Over 100 top club and resort chefs found many delicious insights and ideas at the famed Fairmont Hotel, during C&RB’s Third Annual Chef to Chef Conference.
When they weren’t experiencing the wonders of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel from top (the panoramic views from the 28th-floor Gold Room, where breakfasts and cocktail receptions were held) to bottom (the after-hours entertainment in the fantastically kitschy Tonga Room), over 100 top club chefs gathered in the hotel’s classic ballroom (see photo, above) for three days last month, to gain valuable information from the presentations and cooking demonstrations offered during Club & Resort Business’ Third Annual Chef to Chef Conference, and share culinary insights during the conference’s interactive sessions.
The Conference began on Sunday night, March 6, with a sit-down dinner prepared by The Fairmont’s award-winning culinary team. Attendees then heard Mark Erickson, CMC, Vice President/Dean of Culinary Education of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), deliver a keynote address that began with an overview of the current focus of all three CIA campuses in the U.S. Erickson then provided insights on the state of the culinary industry, including commentary on emerging flavors from other regions (Mediterranean, Asian, Latin American) that are now having a great effect on American cuisine. Erickson concluded by alerting his audience to new research into “modernist cuisine” and other developments in food science that may revolutionize future culinary approaches.
When the Conference resumed on Monday, March 7, David Scalise, Executive Chef of Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa, explained in his presentation, “Sustainable Foods Are Here to Stay,” how locally sourced foods are becoming the foundation of the sustainability movement. Scalise also highlighted the importance of partnering with local markets, organizations and charities to help strengthen local resources, and presented creative ideas for holding “farm to table” dinners at club and resort properties.
Charles Kehrli, Executive Chef of The Yale Club of New York City, then presented on “Understanding Food Costs and F&B Financials.” Kehrli walked Conference attendees through the nuts and bolts of achieving maximum food cost percentage performance, outlined the technological advantages that can be gained from purchasing and recipe software and inventory control programs, and stressed the importance of proper menu design and content.
The first morning of the Conference then concluded with two cooking demonstrations. First, Olivier Andreini, Executive Chef of Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, Pa., showed profitable ways to create hors d’ouevres from leftovers, and demonstrated eye-catching appetizers that can boost check averages. Andreini also showed how garde manger can be an attention-getting opening act.
Next, Francisco Migoya, Associate Professor of the Culinary Institute of America, showed attendees some ways to cut costs, without sacrificing quality or creativity, by making desserts in-house. Migoya’s demonstration featured easy-to-prepare custards, curds and mousses that can change seasonally; he also showed techniques for preparing doughs for more than one use.
On Tuesday, March 8, John Wright, GM/COO of Norwood Hills CC in St. Louis, Mo., provided a general manager’s perspective on the credentials that are now needed to be a top-of-the-line club chef. Understanding financials and demonstrating an ability to be a mentor/educator, communicator and have passion about the culinary arts are all now as essential ingredients for success as cooking talent, Wright stressed.
In their presentation on “Creating Distinctive Dining Destinations,” two executives from Black Butte (Ore.) Ranch—Charles Kingsbaker, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Dean Ecker, Food & Beverage Director/Executive Chef—outlined how well-conceived and implemented concepts, and diverse menus, can attract a wider audience to a property.
Tuesday’s presentations concluded with two more cooking demonstrations. Michael Matarazzo, Executive Chef of Bear Mountain Inn in Rye Brook, N.Y., shared “out of the box” thought processes and techniques for taking club cuisine to the next level. When putting new spins on old classics, Matarazzo counseled, start by taking a step back and thinking how you can set a dish apart and make it special. And remember to respect what made a dish a classic in the first place.
The final demonstration, by Gary Wigand, Executive Chef, Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wis., and Paul Smitala, Executive Chef, Blackwolf Run, Kohler, Wis., showed how collaborative cooking events can generate a positive buzz, and how signature foods can create an identity for your property.
On both days of the Conference, Jerry Schreck, Executive Chef of Merion Golf Club, moderated interactive “Chef to Chef Live” discussions among the audience on topics including food costs/financials, menu design, marketing, and staffing/training.
View additional photos from Club & Resort Business’ Third Annual Chef to Chef Conference here.
View presentations from Club & Resort Business’ Third Annual Chef to Chef Conference here.
View recipes from the Club & Resort Business’ Third Annual Chef to Chef Conference here.