Geoffrey Lanez, CEC, Executive Chef of The Patterson Club in Fairfield, Conn., began building a name for himself while in college at Johnson & Wales University by competing on the student level and studying under prominent chefs. At age 29, he now manages and oversees a team of about 40 staff and three kitchens to produce a high-quality dining experience for the club’s more than 450 member families.
I recently spent some quality time with Certified Executive Chef Geoffrey Lanez, Executive Chef of The Patterson Club in Fairfield, Conn.
The Patterson Club is situated on 170 acres in Fairfield’s Greenfield Hill section. It was founded by General Electric employees in 1929 and today, as one of Fairfield County’s premier private country clubs, offers a family-oriented experience by delivering high-quality personal service to members, their families and their guests through golf, racquets, recreation, dining and social events.
Chef Lanez started cooking in college at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), even though his passion started much earlier, often getting him chased out of the kitchen by his mother. As an undergraduate student at JWU, he began building a name for himself by competing on the student level and studying under prominent chefs. He went on to earn his MBA from JWU and at just age 29, has already established himself as a well-seasoned culinary professional through his robust education, advanced training and participation in various national and international competitions, in addition to his exemplary work at high-end clubs (prior to joining The Patterson Club, he was Executive Sous Chef at the Somerset Club in Boston, Mass. with Executive Chef Michael Shannon).
At The Patterson Club, Chef Lanez manages and oversees a team of about 40 staff and three kitchens to produce a high-quality dining experience for the club’s more than 450 member families. He also stays active in culinary competitions, and prior to the pandemic’s disruption, he and I competed together in Stuttgart, Germany earlier this year as members of the National Culinary Team USA.
If and when things return to normal, Chef Lanez’s goals are to compete for the title of the American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year and to become a Certified Master Chef. He plans to continuously grow as a chef and leader through his current role at The Patterson Club and to inspire other culinary leaders who share the same passion for the highly skilled art of food.
Certainly, Chef Lanez’s leadership skills were put to the test this year, and we thank him for taking the time to share his insights into how he has helped to steer his club through the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
C+RB When did you start making adjustments for COVID at your club?
Lanez It was mid-March; the club converted to 25 for indoor dining and canceled all catering events. We also started to do a curbside to-go, family-style meal for four people that they can order through our dedicated club app that can be downloaded from our website.
That menu consists of three different choices, a rotating salad and a rotating dessert, and every meal includes cookies and the main course. Members can order and pick the meals up Thursday through Sunday. It’s the same menu of three choices for the four days. We go a long way to make the price reasonable and focus on a 50% food cost; that way, the price is between $55 and $75, everything included.
The process is pretty simple and starts when the order is placed. The member gets a confirmation code that goes into our system, and it prints automatically through our POS system. We organize it by date, to limit our costs, and the cutoff time for orders is 6:00 p.m. the night before. As members arrive for pickup, they call the direct line, then a member of the service team brings out the food, drops it directly into the trunk, and that’s that.
C+RB Did you make any modifications to how you work in the back of the house?
Lanez We now have a complete check-in procedure with foot traffic patterns and a temperature-monitoring station. In the kitchen, we use masks while we work and the staff works spaced out. Additionally, we needed to modify how we served our family meal.
I also developed a new system for how we receive product; we installed tents and a welcome center together, at the same spot where all the delivery drivers drop off. All produce and anything in a carton, we sanitize, remove from the external containers, then break down the shipment so that no boxes enter the building. If for some reason we need to bring in a box, we sanitize it with a solution that kills any bacteria or virus within three minutes. It’s a system that has become efficient.
C+RB What’s the biggest challenge you’ve now been facing day-to-day?
Lanez It has been challenging getting the staff to come in; because of circumstances with day care and family members, there have been a lot more callouts than usual.
C+RB How do you keep your team engaged?
Lanez I spend a lot of time working with the team on their goals. Together, we spend a lot of time increasing their responsibility and ability to handle more, to grow their skill sets.
With my management team, it is a little different. Weekly, we go over labor and sales, then develop a plan for how we will tackle the kitchen organization and cleanliness. With the most engaged cooks, I lean on them to create specials, and broaden their skill set by showing them new techniques and products.
C+RB How are you approaching budgets for next year?
Lanez We are trying to project for what is going to happen in January and the beginning months of 2021; then, we are planning to look at that data and forecast later on in the year.
Right now and for the foreseeable future, we have to assume that we will do the same amount of activity and business. I don’t think coronavirus will be gone soon, but our membership feels comfortable coming to the clubhouse, so we are trying to predict what lays ahead. We are confident that the curbside business will increase. Surprisingly, some members are coming three or four times a week.
C+RB What are some offerings that you are considering for next year?
Lanez Currently, I am working out a pizza program featuring a moveable pizza oven. Additionally, I am looking into a vertical salamander to do some fun preparations like tacos al pastor or gyros. I am optimistic that it would be very cool for the membership, and I am confident they would love the addition.
GEOFFREY SOSA LANEZ, CEC
Current Position: Executive Chef,
The Patterson Club, Fairfield, Conn.
Previous Experience: Executive Sous Chef,
Somerset Club, Boston, Mass.
Education & Professional Achievements:
• Johnson & Wales University, Bachelor’s in Food Service Management, 2012
• Johnson & Wales University, MBA, 2014
• IKA/Culinary Olympics 2020 (silver and bronze medals); Boch Culinary World Cup 2019 (two silver medals); AKA Culinary Team USA Member, World Cup Villeroy, 2017
• U.S. representative, Chaine Rotisseur Young Chef competition, Durban, South Africa, 2014
• Northeast Region representative, ACF Student Chef of the Year competition, 2014
• Captain, Silver Medalist Team, ACF National Student Team competition, 2013
• Apprentice, American Culinary Federation USA National Culinary Team, IKA/Culinary Olympics, 2012
Getting Personal with Chef Lanez
Do you have any hobbies?
I try to play some video games—right now, it’s RuneScape.
What’s your go-to book?
The Eight Pillars by James Allen.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Right now, pho.
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
What’s the best seller on your menu?
The best seller is seared halibut with a potato ragout, pickled cherry tomatoes, crispy potato, and an herb salad
You can have lunch with anyone dead or alive—who is it?
My mom would be great; I don’t see her every day. Or having lunch with my mentors or my girlfriend, since I don’t see her often either.
What’s your most commonly used phrase?
Make it work; make it happen.
What’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment?
Seared Halibut with Potato-Leek-Corn Ragout, Pickled Cherry Tomatoes and Pea Tendril-Radish-Fennel Salad
Ingredients For the Seared Halibut:
672 grams (168 grams per portion) halibut
56 grams tarragon and dill cure (see recipe below)
28 grams whole butter
14 grams lemon juice
28 grams white wine
28 grams fish stock
28 grams canola oil
to taste kosher salt
to taste black pepper
7 grams chives, sliced
Procedure For the Seared Halibut:
1. Begin by fabricating and trimming halibut loins. Cure for 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
2. Take plastic wrap and tightly wrap the halibut loins, tying the ends of the plastic wrap to create a consistent cylinder. Allow it to rest for 12 hours.
3. Heat a sauté pan and add canola oil. When it begins to smoke, turn the temperature down halfway.
4. Season halibut fillets all around and sear until golden brown, then flip over. Deglaze the pan with white wine and roast in a 350º F. oven.
5. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 114º F., take it out of the oven and add fish stock and lemon juice.
6. Add butter and emulsify it into the pan, creating your butter sauce. Baste halibut fillets and garnish with chives.
Ingredients For the Tarragon and Dill Cure:
28 grams kosher salt 28 grams sugar 8 grams dill 8 grams tarragon
Procedure For the Tarragon and Dill Cure:
1. Begin by chopping dill and tarragon.
2. Mix with kosher salt, sugar, dill and tarragon.
3. Reserve for fillets.
Ingredients For the Potato-Leek-Corn Ragout:
28 grams marble potatoes
28 grams smoked bacon 28 grams corn 28 grams leeks
112 grams heavy cream
to taste kosher salt
to taste black pepper
3 grams parsley
Procedure For the Potato-Leek-Corn Ragout:
1. In a sauté pan, begin rendering bacon until crispy. Remove and drain fat.
2. Using the same sauté pan, add bacon fat back into the pan and begin sweating down shallots and garlic.
3. Add roasted corn, blanched leeks and potato, and sauté.
4. Deglaze pan with white wine vinegar and add heavy cream.
5. Reduce heavy cream, season and finish with butter and herbs.
Ingredients For the Pickled Cherry Tomatoes:
4 each cherry tomatoes
56 grams red wine vinegar
56 grams water
56 grams sugar
3 grams thyme
3 grams tarragon
1 each bay leaf
Procedure For the Pickled Cherry Tomatoes:
1. Remove the core of each of the cherry tomatoes and score throughout.
2. Blanch and shock cherry tomatoes and remove skin.
3. Take red wine vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaf and bring it up to a boil and pour over cherry tomatoes.
Ingredients For the Pea Tendril, Radish, and Fennel Salad:
28 grams pea tendrils
14 grams radish
7 grams fennel
7 grams olive oil
7 grams lemon juice
to taste kosher salt
to taste black pepper
3 grams chives
3 grams parsley
Procedure For the PEA TENDRIL, RADISH AND FENNEL SALAD:
1. Combine, pea tendrils, radish, fennel with chives, parsley, kosher salt and black pepper.
2. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice.
Submitted by Geoffrey Sosa Lanez, Executive Chef, The Patterson Club, Fairfield, Conn.
Gerald Ford, CMC, is a contributing Chef Editor for Club + Resort Chef and a contributor to Club + Resort Business. He is also the Founder and Culinary Director of Legit Culinary Concepts, an organization that aims to improve the quality of life for chefs and culinarians around the world by providing tools and systems tested and developed with the experience of a master craftsman. Previously, he was the Executive Chef of The Ford Plantation (Richmond Hill, Ga.).