Gross Pointe YC’s Executive Chef Colby Newman has found that strong teamwork will be critical to success this busy holiday season.
With just a few weeks left in my first holiday season at Grosse Pointe (Mich.) Yacht Club, I’ve learned that the holiday season here is not nearly as crazy busy as our summer season. When your club’s main activities are outdoors and revolve around nice weather, this is exactly as it should be. We don’t have as many dining areas to worry about now that the pool is closed, sailing is over and the yachts have been winterized. Of course, it’s still busy with Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas and New Years. But thanks to an organized team and lots of communication, it’s gone smoothly considering one major hiccup in operations—we’ve been without a General Manager since before Thanksgiving.
One of the many reasons I took the position at GPYC was because I had a great connection with the General Manager. We shared the same ideas and agreed on the new direction the food should take here at the club. When the day comes (many many years down the road when my body can’t handle being in the kitchen any longer), I would love to become a GM. I was looking forward to learning from GPYC’s GM, filing away any tips or ideas to keep in the back of my mind if I ever decided to go in that direction. As he starts his transition to retirement, I know he’s just a phone call away and will be someone I can always get advice from.
Even though he’s no longer with the club, we haven’t been without someone steering the ship. Our Commodore has taken on that responsibility and will continue until the GM position is filled. It’s been especially gratifying to see how he has handled this transition. He has made sure to include all the managers in the hiring process and he has sat down with each of us to learn what qualities we believe are important for a GM. He understands we’re the ones who will interact with this person on a daily basis and our opinions truly seem to matter as he and the board narrow down the candidates.
It’s intimidating to know that not long after coming on board here at GPYC, I’ll have a new boss. But I’m thankful the club wants to hear my opinion and make sure its department heads are involved in the process.
Originally, my biggest concern when I found out our GM was leaving was what if our new GM doesn’t agree with the changes I’ve made so far, and the plans I have for the future? What if this person doesn’t like my style of food? Or what if, after taking this incredible opportunity and moving my family across the country, the new GM doesn’t think I’m a good fit for the club? Or what if he or she has a different chef he or she would like to bring in instead?
It’s a rabbit hole and the “what if’s” can be terrifying. So I have to stop myself and remember that the same board that hired me will also hire a new GM. And they will do so with the members’ and staff’s best interests in mind.
I’m grateful this didn’t happen during the summer, but I can’t think of many chefs who would want to start their holiday season without a GM. Thankfully, with our Commodore’s leadership and professionalism as well as the constant communication between all the departments here at GPYC, we’ve done an amazing job so far.
I’m not sure who our next GM will be, but I am looking forward to learning from this person and maybe even being able to teach him or her something about food and the kitchen. I’m excited about the future and the opportunity to form a new relationship with someone I’m certain will further elevate this already incredible club.