Grosse Pointe YC has elevated and expanded its menu with dry-aged proteins.
Traditionally, steak can be a pretty boring menu item for club chefs. But the problem with reinventing steak is that when a member orders a filet, he or she expects a super-tender cut of beef with a well-seasoned crust, cooked medium-rare.
Instead of fighting this reality, Colby Newman, Executive Chef of Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., is finding new inspiration in the meat itself by featuring unique, dry-aged proteins created to his specifications by a local producer, Fairway Packing Co.
Dry-aging meat is by no means a new technique, but it can be labor-intensive and expensive. The process involves resting protein in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment for a desired amount of time, to tenderize it and increase its flavor.
Countless club chefs have embraced the dry-aging process as a way to offer their members a unique, high-end, steakhouse-style product. Many are even dry-aging in their own clubhouses. But for Newman, dry-aging in-house isn’t practical.
“I could do dry-aging here with a small cooler, but I’d be jumping through hoops with the health department—and even then, I don’t have the space or the time to do the volume we need,” he says. “This partnership allows us to have a custom dry-age program without having to do the aging ourselves. All of the controls are closely monitored, and we can combine Fairway’s expertise with our creativity in their state-of-the-art dry-aging room.”
THE GOAL: Colby Newman, Executive Chef of Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (GPYC) wanted to elevate and expand the club’s menu with dry-aged proteins.
For example, Newman and GPYC’s Commodore wanted Fairway to dry-age a bourbon-soaked ribeye. Newman planned to run the ribeye as a special for one week. The booze-aged beef was wrapped in cheese cloth that had been soaked in bourbon. It sat in Fairway’s closely monitored environment for 60 days before it was cut and sold to the club.
“The bourbon amplified the dry-aging process,” says Newman. “It gave the ribeye subtle notes of vanilla and oak. And the room, because it has a salt-block wall, essentially seasons the meat all along the way. It was ridiculously good.”
The ribeye, which ran as a weekly special, sold out in four days. And Newman has Fairway aging a similar cut for later this season.
“Quality and the consistency are important,” he says. “Beyond that, the relationship we have established with this company—one that many of our members also purchase meat from—gives us an edge.
“There are a lot of clubs in Detroit,” Newman adds. “We’re right down the street from some of the most elite clubs in the country. These products differentiate GPYC and give our members something to brag about. Plus, this relationship allows me to teach my culinary team about dry-aging, what it does to the meat, how it does it, and why it’s worth the effort.”
For example, GPYC recently aged a domestic lamb loin for 20 days and then cut the loin into T-bones for a wine dinner. “The aging completely mellowed out the gaminess of the lamb and gave it a beef-like texture,” says Newman. “My staff had never seen anything like that before, so this was cool for them, too.”
The relationship has been so productive that GPYC now has its own rack inside Fairway’s aging room, and Newman frequently visits it to check out the products he’s aging, while admiring the meticulousness of the operation.
“My goal is to get this program really far ahead,” says Newman. “In May, for example, I want to be looking at when we should start things for November—and beyond.”
Taking note of an increase in the number of food allergies among children and adults in its membership that its staff was being asked to be aware of—and that it was becoming more difficult for staff to communicate effectively during service about them—the Tampa (Fla.) Yacht & Country Club developed an “allergy burgee” system that could unobtrusively alert everyone on the team to the need for special awareness, while also fitting in with the club’s nautical environment. Whenever a member makes the service staff aware of an allergy, that information is recorded in the member’s profile and alert boxes are generated when that member’s number is entered into the club’s computer system. Now, each evening before dinner service, the Dining Room Manager checks all reservations against the member profiles and places a small allergy burgee flag on appropriate tables before the member party arrives. The flag serves to subtly caution anyone working the table to check the member profile and be aware of possible allergic situations. The procedure, the club reports, has eliminated questioning among the staff while greatly improving confidence among the membership about the food they will (or won’t) be served.