Dubuque Golf & Country Club’s Executive Chef, Chad Myers, is especially grateful for experiences that remind of him why he’s a chef and why his work matters.
When bad things happen, I look for the meaning in the situation. Searching for the answer to “why” allows me to cope and move through and past what’s happening around me. It allows me to stay positive as I search for answers. For instance, I lost my mother in my early 20s. Her death put me on a path that led to the kitchen and to my role as an Executive Chef. While it was incredibly difficult, her life and her death impacted so much of who I’ve become and I’m eternally grateful to her for that.
Last year, I lost my 13-year-old nephew and I’m still trying so hard to find the meaning. It’s crappy, and no family should have to feel this kind of pain and loss. But I know that Gavin would want me to rise above and keep my head on straight working toward achieving my goals, while also helping my team reach theirs.
So how do I do that? What are my coping mechanisms?
Family, work, relationships and camaraderie are at the top of my list. I crave moments and people that nourish who I am, what I believe and reaffirm what I am good at. These things ground me and are critical to my success.
I recently had the pleasure of being invited to a popup in Milwaukee at Birch + Butcher Restaurant. My friend Paris Dreibelbis, who won the Ment d’or young chef competition last year, invited me to be a part of a send-off party where a bunch of local chefs got together to cook before Paris headed off to Napa to train with Team USA for the Bocuse d’or. It was a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. There was me, Paris, Kevin Scharpf of Brazen in Dubuque, which has been the home of the RU dinners, and some of Paris’s friends from Milwaukee, including Jackie Woods, who Paris worked with at Ardent.
It was an incredibly fun experience filled with moments that will stick with me forever. For instance, I did the pork dish and was just going to roast it. Paris suggested I sous vide it, and he and Jackie walked me through how to do so. It was the first protein I have ever done for a dinner start to finish using sous vide. It was kind of a milestone for me. To them, it wasn’t a big deal. They do it all the time. But I don’t get that kind of experience often. I was so proud of that dish and that preparation. This was a tiny moment, but one that keeps me moving forward. One that makes me crave more.
I also got to use the wood-fired grill, which was a good experience too (albeit, a hot one).
The night was filled with the camaraderie that comes with working with a bunch of chefs, giving each other crap while at the same time producing some of the best food anywhere. It’s like a weird competitive vibe that keeps you on your toes and pushes you to be better. It inspired me. It made me want to come back to my club and show my members what I learned. It made me want to learn more so I can be an even better club chef.
I wish Paris luck as he embarks on the next step of his career. I also wish Kevin luck in the upcoming season of Top Chef. I look forward to future collaborations with them and with others, when we can create more moments that remind us all why we love this business so much.
These are the experiences that make the blood, sweat, and tears worth it. They help me find meaning in places there seems to be none. They help me look my kids and my wife in the eye and remind them that even though bad things happen, it’s important to still work hard to find the good in this world.