Nelson Millán, Executive Chef of San Antonio (Texas) Country Club, recently served as a guest chef for two events at Baltimore CC. There he was able to interact and learn from a handful of close club chef colleagues.
Last month, Richard Jallet, Executive Chef of Baltimore (Md.) Country Club, invited me to be the guest chef for two different events at his club. I was honored he asked and even more excited to accept.
Every time I have an opportunity such as this to go to another club and experience its operations, I say yes because I always come back to my club feeling re-energized. It’s also useful to experience firsthand the practices of other club chefs to learn practical ideas that I can implement here.
A few weeks before my arrival at BCC, I was talking with Jerry Schreck, Executive Chef of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. about my plans to help Chef Jallet. When I mentioned the events at BCC, Chef Schreck immediately offered to help. I couldn’t decline such a generous offer, plus the added camaraderie would really make the experience special.
Departure day arrived and Chef Schreck showed up at BCC with three other members of his crew to help us prepare for the first event. What a great honor that was to work with these talented culinarians. Chef Jallet even commented that it felt for a moment like we were having a mini Chef to Chef Conference at his club!
In spite of being extremely busy preparing for the two events, we all stopped at one point to pay a visit to Chef Todd Sellaro of Elkridge Country Club (Baltimore, Md.). Elkridge is about 20 minutes from BCC and while we were there Chef Sellaro took us on a tour of his operation. I learned about his dry-aged beef program as well as how he changes 75% of his menus every six weeks. He does so by conducting coordinated brainstorming sessions with his culinary staff. It was very impressive.
We also had the opportunity to go to dinner to a local restaurant where a handful of chefs from different clubs in Maryland joined us. We had a great time. Chef Thomas Hall from the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club (Owings Mills, Md.) picked a fantastic restaurant in Columbia, Md. called the Turn House. During dinner, Turn House’s Chef, Thomas Zippelli, took great care of us and served an incredible array of dishes.
The following day, Chef Hall showed up to help prepare for the wine dinner. He had to leave before service though because there was an event at his club that he needed to be present for. Just after Chef Hall left, Chef Sellaro joined us to help throughout the wine dinner.
We had a very successful wine dinner and I am extremely grateful that Chef Jallet invited me to serve as the guest chef. I’m even more moved by the willingness, camaraderie and support that permeated my time on the east coast with top-notch club chefs from the area. It made me reflect on the fact that as club chefs we are all willing to help one another just for the sake of spending quality time together doing what we love to do the most and expecting nothing in return. That is the importance of cultivating a great professional network. I would encourage clubs chef from all corners of the country to attend conferences like Chef to Chef and to read magazines like C&RB’s Chef to Chef. These two avenues will connect you with other culinary professionals who share your challenges and can offer new ideas. And if you’re lucky, as I am, they’ll connect you to some fantastic friends, too.