Chef’s Thoughts: Charles Carroll, CEC, AAC

Charles Carroll, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef, River Oaks Country Club
Charles Carroll, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef, River Oaks Country Club

Charles Carroll, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef, River Oaks Country Club, Houston, Texas

Two-time award-winning author, Charles Carroll, is currently the Executive Chef of River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas, with 1,500 members and a culinary staff of 61. Before coming to River Oaks, Carroll was Executive Chef at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. for four years, and Executive Chef at The Balsams Grand Resort—a four-star, four-diamond resort in Dixville Notch, N.H.—for 13 years.

Over the course of his career, Carroll has received over 70 national and international awards and has served on seven United States Culinary Olympic teams, earning the number-one spot in 2000.

He will provide the keynote address, “The Essence of Greatness,” at the 2014 Chef to Chef Conference, to be held March 2-4 in San Antonio (go to

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1. You’d be surprised to learn that I am the founder and producer of “Operation Honoring Our Troops (HOT).” Made up of a team of 20 celebrities and chefs, the group’s intent is simple: Entertain the finest troops in the world with some of the best talent in the world, while bringing them a taste of home with a Cajun meal.
2. If I could trade places with one chef, I wouldn’t.
3. One of my most memorable meals was at Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.
4. My go-to drink is a wonderful pinot noir.
5. My last meal would be with my family, barbecuing on the lake.
6. My worst culinary decision ever was when I had a lot of country-style pâté en terrine left from an event. I thought I would treat a wedding the following day to an “extra” passed hors d’oeuvre. Turns out, it was a Jewish wedding, and there was pork in the pâté.
7. My favorite junk food is French fries—preferably truffle French fries with duck confit, shaved Parmesan and scallions.
8. If I weren’t a chef, I’d love to be an NFL owner.
9. I knew I wanted to be a chef when I did not get drafted into the NBA.
10. The most ridiculous member or guest request I’ve ever had was when someone sent back a sandwich because there were too many holes in the Swiss cheese.
11.  My biggest mistake when I first started as a chef was not exposing myself to more incredible chefs and experiences. (On the other hand, I am proud to have only had three jobs.)
12. I think that truffle is the most overrated ingredient, but it is also my favorite ingredient.
13. If I could change one thing about my club, I would have unlimited funds to pay the staff.  
14. I love being a club chef because concepts, ideas, events and menus are as big as we dream them to be.