Culinary

Mastering the Interview: Navigating First Impressions and Leadership Selection

Mastering the Interview: Navigating First Impressions and Leadership Selection

Interviewing is more than just answering questions; it’s about presenting yourself, talking, and listening. When you interview well, the committee doesn’t just hear you; they feel your personality and patience. Good interviewees tailor their messages based on their audience’s reactions.

People often form opinions within the first five minutes of meeting you. Your body language and how you speak significantly affect their judgment. Chefs usually don’t go through many interviews; they often advance through mentors. It’s not just where you’ve worked, but who you’ve worked under that counts.

Interviews at private clubs are tough for chefs. You’re performing for a diverse group, and members may not understand the culinary world. That’s why having a recruiter helps. They can explain the chef’s background and clarify any misconceptions about the culinary industry.

The best interview committees are carefully chosen, not just made up of volunteers. These members understand the club’s goals, even if they’re not regular diners. But even self-proclaimed “foodies” on the committee might not be as adventurous or knowledgeable as they claim.

Interviews can go off track due to preconceived ideas about what a club chef should be, often based on the committee’s varied backgrounds. After the interview, chefs face a tasting round, cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen for strangers. These tastings are crucial but just one part of the evaluation.

Based on observing hundreds of chef interviews over the past year, here are some key tips:

  1. Arrive on time, as you’d expect from others.
  2. Dress professionally, no matter the club’s dress code. Follow Escoffier’s example: he dressed formally before changing into his chef’s attire.
  3. Remember, you’re there for the club’s brand, not your personal promotion. Keep everything, from your appearance to your behavior, professional.
  4. Speak with a steady, respectful tone. Take your time to show you care about the members’ concerns.
  5. Understand who you’re talking to; research the committee members’ backgrounds.
  6. Stay on topic with your answers, and don’t ramble.
  7. Don’t offer information they didn’t ask for; you might not have time to explain.
  8. Talk positively about past workplaces; it reflects well on you.
  9. Use light, appropriate humor. It shows the human side behind the chef’s apron.
  10. Avoid industry jargon. Keep your language clear to everyone.

Tough questions will come up. Handle them gracefully:

  1. Don’t dwell on past negative experiences. Stay professional.
  2. If you’ve been let go before, be honest, but focus on what you learned.
  3. If asked how long you plan to stay, show you’re committed as long as needed.
  4. Take care when leaving your current job. Good clubs will respect that.
  5. Be honest about why you’re moving on. It shows integrity in your decision-making.

Remember, communication isn’t just about what you say. It’s how you say it and your body language. Like a memorable meal, it’s not just the taste; it’s how you feel while experiencing it. That’s what leaves a lasting impression.

Club Resort + Chef – October 2023

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Mastering the Interview: Navigating First Impressions and Leadership Selection2023-12-07T17:27:49+00:00

Is Your Private Club Kitchen Outdated?

2023-Outdated-Kitchen-McFadden

If your club hasn’t renovated and/or updated the kitchen lately, it may be time to invest in a kitchen renovation or remodel. Outdated kitchens are common in the club industry as money is often spent in areas of the club that are visible to members. However, culinary equipment and kitchen layouts have evolved dramatically over the years and significantly impact efficiency and production.

Certified Master Chef and hospitality consultant Lawrence McFadden often asks club executives to compare kitchens to cars. “Think about the car you drove 40 years ago compared to the car you drive today. From technology to design to cup holder placement, they are very different vehicles. The same is true with kitchens and kitchen equipment.”

McFadden explains club food and beverage offerings were very different 40 years ago compared to today. Back then salads were mostly sides, sandwiches were rarely served, most entrees were served hot and there were no concerns over food allergies (gluten, nuts, etc.). A twenty-to-forty-minute wait between courses was purposeful and little refrigeration space was required. Today, salads, wraps and sandwiches make up a significant portion of menu items requiring tremendous refrigeration space. Member allergies and diet preferences require separation and careful preparation of items. Made to order dishes and quick cook times are required to meet member demand.

Not only have menu items, member preferences and speed of service changed over the past four decades, technology has evolved dramatically as well. The Middleby Corporation represents numerous culinary brands and confirms that kitchen equipment has come a long way in the last 40 years. Technological advancements in culinary equipment significantly increase cooking precision, cooking speed, consistency, nutritional benefit and energy savings. Space-saving design and ventless cooking opportunities allow for more menu items to be prepared, culinarians to be more efficient and cook times to be greatly reduced. As an example, the latest kitchen equipment can cook paninis in 90 seconds, full pizzas in two minutes and 16-ounce steaks in four minutes! One can quickly see how these enhancements can positively impact culinary performance and the member experience!

When employees are difficult to find and retain, having equipment with automation means food items can be cooked to perfection with the click of a button. Today members expect great quality food, more variety, increased consistency and less wait time. While the kitchen is a “back of the house” area and may be difficult to generate member buy-in to the need and cost of the project, McFadden urges club executives to conduct member tours of the kitchen. “Showcase examples and solutions behind changes to enhance their understanding,” he said. McFadden also strongly recommends clubs seek outside expertise from a culinary consultant or food service company such as Boelter, which provides design, planning, logistics, delivery and installment of kitchen items. All too often, club kitchens are piecemealed together. When one piece of equipment broke down, it was simply replaced with a newer version of itself. Therefore, club kitchens lack creativity, efficiency, space and necessity for what is needed to create the member experience expected today.

The food and beverage department is often the area where most clubs struggle with consistency and/or high member satisfaction. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between food and beverage performance and the commonality of outdated kitchens in private clubs? While not every club kitchen needs a complete renovation, every club should consider a review of the culinary needs required for today and consider investing in an upgrade. The return on the member experience could be substantial.

Private Club Advisor – October 2023

Lawrence McFadden, CMC, ECM, Global Hospitality Professional
Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Is Your Private Club Kitchen Outdated?2023-12-07T17:32:21+00:00

5 Tried-and-True Best Practices for Club F&B Programs

5 Tried-and-True Best Practices for Club F&B Programs

 

A recent presentation by Club Benchmarking highlighted food and beverage as the top member-value proposition for most clubs. But as illustrated by other articles in this issue of Club Trends (see p. 6), F&B is also the leading source of dissatisfaction registered in member surveys.

This conundrum is exactly what differentiates club F&B programs from golf or tennis. Club members expect they can arrive without a reservation and still be seated, or that the way they would like a menu item to be deconstructed will always be remembered. But these expectations—or as the members see them, requirements—to meet personalized needs can often compromise the delivery of the product.

EXPECTATIONS

In hotel management, these are called an anticipation of needs, and recorded as individual preferences before or after a stay at a property. They are also documented in a company-wide reservation system. Experiencing the benefits of these practices as they travel the world only adds to members’ expectations to get the same treatment at their clubs.

Unfortunately, clubs don’t traditionally have the same sort of systems in place as major hotel chains, or the ability to make the needed capital investments to install them. This leaves the reality that member preferences and needs are often not recognized or addressed until the diner is standing at the hostess stand, or after they’re already seated.

The greatest conundrum is that while food is a very powerful emotion, what a member wants isn’t always reality. The good news, though, is that most of what club members want and enjoy as they dine really hasn’t changed in years. Much of what’s expected and seen as individual preferences can be defined and anticipated through a proper combination of traditional norms and emerging cultural realities.

Here are five tried-and-true traits that will serve every club well if they are properly embedded in their food-and-beverage programs, to consistently meet and satisfy the range of preferences and expectations that exists within their memberships:

  1. Authenticity 

    It’s no longer good enough to just have a “global” dish on the menu. Clubs need to describe and present that dish or service through authentic ingredients and service touches in a theater-like structure. You must make the member feel as though they are actually visiting the location and sharing its culture.

    Even classic items like curry have taken on new meaning. That yellow spice sitting in the back of Mom’s spice rack can now be green, red, blue or have other regional-specific characteristics. Using the proper mixtures also defines what protein might be used, which vegetables have global origins and even from where the dish originates. This same sort of lineage has moved to every ingredient, from cheese to chocolate. 

  2. Consistency

     

    This is the most humbling and challenging trait to achieve. While it’s not the leading factor in defining what makes a great meal or dining experience, consistency, which frequently emerges in surveys as the top source of member dissatisfaction with F&B, is key to developing trust and moving a dining program’s acceptance to greater heights.

    Consistency applies to more than having the temperature and taste of soups or steaks satisfy the right sensory expectations. Every diner also has an expectation of the right portion for the price. While clubs will never move to including pictures with their menus, a reason behind the sustained success of Denny’s or The Cheesecake Factory is the expectation their picture menus create, as well as the guidance those photos provide for the staff that must prepare and serve those items.

    Clubs need to find ways to satisfy what a member will expect to be served without regressing to pictures. Precise menu descriptions and very knowledgeable servers will help meet members’ expectations for whatever dish they choose.

  3. Repeatable Learnings

     

    Everyone enjoys being exposed to new things and getting educated on their own terms. When dining at a club, members love coming away from something new they learned about the source of ingredients or the origin of a dish that they can then share with friends. The F&B world is filled with such learnings, and it’s the responsibility of club professionals to uncover those unique stories and keep them front and center as part of a club’s dining agenda.

    For example, while some may know how grapes are grown, do they know the story of the farmer who buries quartz into the ground around the vines of his bio-dynamic offerings? Learning more about the process of how something is made, how it has evolved and how it has become part of a specific culture can help give ownership to how food feels, tastes, smells and is experienced. Many of these learnings can also become the basis for launching do-it-yourself or children’s programs that further engage members.

  4. Simplicity

     

    One of the most unique aspects of a club membership is that it spans such a wide range of age groups and generations, but that same characteristic poses special challenges for the F&B program. When the range of ages stretches from four to 94, simple norms like house salads, club sandwiches and regional soups take on added importance.

    Regardless of what dietary mood a member may be in, keeping a few club classics that are readily available and consistent in their appeal will always present a strong backup plan. And if they’re twists on old favorites for which a club has developed a unique presentation or flavor, that can only add to their value as a storytelling opportunity and special source of pride for members.

    Another key aspect of simplicity is making sure classic dishes arrive at members’ tables in familiar, recognizable forms that don’t jar expectations, unless new descriptions or titles have been assigned to them to describe how they’ve been changed. That’s why burgers now merit their own category on menus, stretching from all-beef to vegetarian with various sides. But one should never serve the hamburger bun on the side or with baked fries instead of fried, unless those distinctions have been made clear.

  5. Timeliness

     

    Thanks to wireless connections, speed is valued currency in many lives. Especially as their membership ranks have swelled in recent years, clubs must figure out ways to feed large amounts of people quickly, in great style and with extreme quality.

    This has ramped up interest in how to integrate more grab-and-go and self-service options into club dining without compromising member satisfaction. To accomplish this, clubs must be uber-organized to properly cook, package and deliver items in this fashion without disappointing expectations for proper variety, quality and speed.

    With its individualized packaging, beautiful display counters and efficient touches such as condiment sourcing, Starbucks has created and sustained a great example of self-service options that meet performance expectations. Clubs have the opportunity to build on the concept by also turning yesterday’s tired buffets into action cooking spaces that are set up across dining venues to offer individualized culinary portions. In this way, grab-and-go doesn’t really have to be viewed as a new trend, but as an upscaled extension of the type of self-service that has been around since we first ate at our own dining room table or moved through a school lunch line.

Beyond these five traits, staying at the forefront of member expectations also calls for clubs to remain ready to respond to other trending fads, as well as new dietary or even social movements. The foundation for members’ dining satisfaction, however, will always be formed by accurately delivering F&B products as promised, with quality ingredients at an expected price or portion, and through service that affords proper respect to diners and their time. Clubs that can build and maintain this foundation will gain the trust and loyalty from members that will be reflected by the proper measure of satisfaction with their F&B operations.

Club Trends – Fall 2023

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Annette Whittley, is a food and beverage training consultant and search executive with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries.

5 Tried-and-True Best Practices for Club F&B Programs2023-12-07T17:33:44+00:00

How General Managers Can Be More Involved In Culinary Excellence

How General Managers Can Be More Involved In Culinary Excellence

Most successful culinary cultures share similar norms. These elite clubs are aligned with strong visionary general managers, a membership base that understands their role in the club’s food and beverage success, and both possess transparent trust in the executive chef.

The general manager is often the most important partner for the executive chef, followed closely by culinary resources, a supportive board, and often written strategic plans around the importance of culinary value propositions.

When working with club boards, search committees, and especially general managers on topics of sustainable food and beverage excellence, the conversation always seems to touch on the following areas.

Many clubs believe they have hired executive chefs to bring their culinary vision and direction to the clubs. Feeling confident in hiring the best while not interfering, they hope these steps take culinary excellence to the next level.

The reward comes with a risk whenever leaving professionals to their own uninterrupted actions, even resulting in misaligned service execution, siloed departments and soft or even nonexistent member feedback in the worst-case scenarios.

History has shown that elite clubs act in converse. The more a chef is part of the executive committee discussions, the better the organization’s mission, vision and standards can be absorbed. One of the most important factors is mentoring the chef in defined guidelines for menu offerings. Sharing membership data and comments can help to secure accurate, expected and approachable menu offerings. These conversations include when menu selections can be rotated, time-honored signature dishes and even popular items that need to be improved.

These menu vision sessions are not to be mistaken as requirements. They have been developed from club wisdom through membership interactions. Vital conversations in which direction of a more consistent culinary experience can exist in the club. Often general managers might feel this imputation could dampen creativity. Traditionally shown, creativity is enhanced when the vision is clearly defined, mutual expectations are measured and consistent customer feedback is shared.

The chef was hired for their culinary technique first. Defining membership needs and wants is the responsibility of the entire leadership team. In the same breath, a general manager must embrace a calculated change in the club’s culinary offerings and kitchen structure for the mutual support of the chef.

Great general managers measure the risk in the progression of the culinary arts. They are defining with the chef what are fads before they are trends, even recognizing emerging technology that has or will become part of the service culture.

A vital piece of this leadership relationship is the trust in sharing positive and constructive feedback from members and employees. In that context, partnering in menu feedback while creating a collaborative culinary whiteboard exercise is beneficial.

This process defines what creativity and conservativity look like in the club’s culinary offering, providing the chef areas where the chef can play while defining tight structure around traditions or iconic events. Menu engineering is a partnership between the chef, key club leaders and historical successes in the eyes of club membership. These over-communicated requirements often keep the chef from misunderstanding what can change while ensuring that innovation doesn’t sit on the chef’s shoulders alone. Another great practice found in annualized KPIs is that of a stop-start-continue exercise, a process that, when done correctly, gives general managers a sense of how club chefs see their role.

This exercise can include various stakeholders, employees, leaders, selected committee members, and even vendors. Often, we recommend the general manager or president perform this exercise for a new executive chef, providing the new professional with a clearer sense of expectation and, importantly, historical habits that are appreciated.

If the new executive chef has not been exposed to many of these strategic techniques previously, define “executive” in the title, empowering them to have ownership in the overall club strategy, staff development and alignment with the executive committee. A lack of involvement will alienate true ownership and responsibility of the vision of the club as it relates to culinary excellence. 

Building a relationship between the general manager and the new executive chef will take time and mentorship. Schedule an hour each week (their hour) where the chef and the general manager sit and discuss items necessary for supportive action.

Meeting consistently formulates a better understanding of the partnership and expectations. Staff retention always starts in this relationship and teaching the chef how to manage and participate with defined agendas strengthens it.

Leveraging the organizational chart by alternating the weekly meeting between two offices is a benchmarkable best practice. Young culinarians learn to further respect the craft when seeing a general manager in the chef’s office. These sights inspire and highlight the importance of the executive chef’s role in the organization.

In preparation for these meetings, advice to budding or even established chefs is don’t come to the sessions empty-handed. If your partner, the general manager, can taste, see and feel the product, they have a better understanding of how, if necessary, to pitch it to members and, therefore, better support for the chef.

A talented chef wants new kitchen products, tools and equipment. Those who have a “wish list” traditionally are lifetime industry learners. To support these requests, ask for a capital project business plan, accompanying the vision. Normal costs, projected revenues, potential savings, as well as staff and member improvements are key components to include with wish list requests.

A successful proposal must be able to determine the value proposition to the club. With any capital request, the less personalized, balancing a complete club benefit is more likely to earn a higher probability of support.

In key member touchpoint capital projects, business cases can include a strategy for a “pilot.” This provides less finality to commitment, potentially giving subliminal board support, knowledge and engagement under a culinary research and development method.

Understanding the risk of change, temporary timelines might be more acceptable. These plans include measured feedback, with repair and maintenance for a set schedule of time. Pilots are vital to continue idea generation, uncover potential demand for services and endorse the concept of change.

Examples include menu designs, changes in service ware, service styles, various technology, or even uniforms. During the pilot, both member and employee feedback sharpens the scope and final decisions.

Some clubs have even turned the board meetings into light F/B research and development platforms. Hidden between monthly governance issues, emerging membership updates, or budget assumptions, hospitality can be sold continuously. A gentle reminder at this high-level meeting to not overlook culinary excellence as a key part of the membership value. 

Board members understand that great deals are done over dining. A simple act of culinary inclusion ensures the chef interacts for a few minutes each month, being known and energized at this audience level.

In numerous club visits or discussions, innovation, creativity, or lack of change plagues the reputation of many executive chefs. The balance of change and the consistency required might never be solved.

With these conundrums, an executive chef can begin to lose that creative edge if not measured through education, benchmarking or conference participation. Dining out is required for any club’s culinary product to stay fresh and vibrant. Often members are more versed in local establishments, which can leave the kitchen out of the conversation.

A general manager benefits from dining partnerships by learning insights about culinary excellence. The more time spent on the club’s authority on food, the stronger members’ needs can be understood. One doesn’t need to be in love with food to respect those who are.

Finishing the education sector and creating annual goals around certification within the industry is paramount to the motivation of the existing talent. It is also a tool for recruitment. Education is the number one value proposition of a stronger culinary department.

While all clubs discuss staffing, chefs who have industry reach, local community involvement and succession planning have the greatest chance for a balanced staffing model.

Great trust, respect and education will always be timeless pillars in a lasting partnership. As a mentor once said, “I come to work to be with my friends and together we create greatness.”

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINE – July/August 2023 

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Annette Whittley, is a food and beverage training consultant and search executive with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries.

How General Managers Can Be More Involved In Culinary Excellence2023-12-07T17:35:23+00:00

A Compelling Business Case for Club Kitchen Renovations

A Compelling Business Case for Club Kitchen Renovations

At the pool restaurant, an order for a grilled cheese without cheese came in. Quickly, the servers asked if the member wanted toast, as the request caught the servers off guard. Embarrassed by the question, the member explained that their five-year-old was lactose intolerant. We prepared two pieces of bread pushed together, toasted on the outside, and sliced diagonally.

That was twenty-five years ago; now that guest is thirty, with children of their own and in their wake they left a path for deconstruction through allergens, trends, fads, or personalized preferences. Everything from coffee to entrees and sides is customized by operators or their customers based on appetite. Professional kitchens that embrace these personalized menu designs and pivot regularly will become tomorrow’s leaders. The customer is not always right, but they are paying the bill and have a choice.

In a recent presentation about a renovation at a historical club, we explained why their kitchen was out of date after forty quick years. The location of the kitchen was centralized and sizable, but the equipment and its placement were no longer current. With their board, we pitched the history of modern cookery, discussing the time-honored classic preparations at their club when the kitchen was constructed. Popular dishes like Beef Stroganoff, Chicken à la King, Seafood Newburgh, or roasted Cornish Hens stuffed with wild rice. These batch-cooked, served-up dishes would sit on the club’s kitchen line in a series of steam wells. Even the side dishes of rice pilaf, scalloped potatoes, creamed spinach, and ratatouille were held. Their beloved club desserts of baked cobblers, floating islands, and classic bread pudding followed the same style.

We explained that lighter proteins of fish, poultry, and veal were never ordered rare or even medium rare during those years. This era could be called the well-done era, influenced by emerging food safety standards, the poor quality of meats rationed during world wars, and home pantries stocked with canned goods. Dining out often meant cafeterias where everything was served in sauces as customers pointed out their choices.

Back then, salads were mostly sides, accompanying the entrée-style main course. There were very few hot-cold combinations, as the few cold plates consisted of scoops of chicken/tuna or ham salad. The humble sandwich was not a luxury and was certainly rare in a private club. It would be years before the simple club sandwich had any company on most menus.

These dining habits influenced the classic cooking lines, allocating most of the space for hot offerings and leaving only a fraction for cold items. Most cold appetizers were pre-prepared pâtés, terrines, or smoked fish, pre-plated in advance and placed in the cooler. The cold à la carte section was simply a small carved-out space for special requests or garnishes for those pre-plated cold items. Their club’s kitchen was set up just like this, with very little refrigeration and a lot of French top stoves, holding units, and steam tables. The present kitchen still produced food, but its organization had become overwhelmed by the current menu and member requests, leaving no space for all the made-to-order dishes and quick cooking need to meet member demand.

The discussion during the board meeting shifted to the example of their cars. We compared all the new technology in their own cars that cater to a driver’s requirements. Adding a touch of humor, we suggested that a three-year lease for the kitchen, similar to their cars, would be ideal. Keeping up with kitchen technology, design, or coolers is akin to the beloved “cup holders” that have been added to every nook and cranny of cars. This seemed to resonate with them as they could feel the difference in their automobiles.

To strengthen their commitment to the kitchen, we moved on to changes in member preferences using a classic Starbucks case study. A coffee company that started with a few offerings had evolved into a generational drink outlet, offering milkshake-like Frappuccinos, iced teas, and juice infusions. It has now expanded to fifty odd drinks, sprouting from the humble black coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and latte. Sources confirm that dairy and sweeteners now rival coffee in terms of volume of purchases for the brand.

Even before the current energy drink craze, Diet Coke had already replaced coffee as the morning beverage of choice. Caffeine is the craving, and with America’s love for sugar, this shift made sense. Culinary staff can’t change these trends, so a club must address member desires.

After discussing dining trends and member preferences, we moved on to the evolution of food networks, global travel, and a health-focused population. We are creating foodies out of those five-year-olds, exposing them to some of the best restaurants in the world. Meanwhile, new norms like internet speed, societal impatience, and ordering technology have brought the humble club kitchen to its knees.

Throughout the past forty years of the club’s original kitchen concept, an annual kitchen capital budget wouldn’t suffice to replace more than a few pieces of equipment each year. Chefs often found themselves balancing trends like cryo-vacuum, sous-vide, or blast freezers against the need for a modernized line with more efficient ovens and ranges. It’s almost as if an Executive Chef must choose between the perception of “tools” versus necessities, given that most of their kitchens are really dinosaurs.

Every club struggles with what they call member “touch points” expenses versus back-of-the-house updates. The philosophy of “out of sight, out of mind” prevails since members don’t experience the antiquated back of the club. This confirms the notion that if members were involved in cooking their own meals, as they are in golf or tennis, the modernization of the back of the club would become a competitive race for bragging rights. This lighthearted example illustrates that kitchens could have modern environments, high-tech pans, and even state-of-the-art ranges.

All these points lead us to the advice that an Executive Chef’s great business case starts with an educated story. It involves presenting the history of the professional culinary industry in bite-sized pieces for the members to understand. Speaking over their heads or leaving them to figure things out themselves could relegate the kitchen to an afterthought.

One of the most valuable things an Executive Chef can offer on behalf of the entire membership is to arrange for the board, committees, and others to tour their kitchens. Showcasing examples and solutions behind changes or points of service will enhance their understanding. The dated but effective Chef tables provide members with a bird’s-eye view of a typical night and the professionalism of the culinary staff.

Fortunately, our club project received full support, and the club has embarked on a complete renovation of their classic kitchen. While not every Executive Club Chef needs a complete kitchen renovation, without a business case backed by examples, data, or education, no membership group should approve these expenditures. The cost of the business case is only the time the Executive Chef invests in it, and the potential return could be substantial.

Lawrence McFadden, CMC, ECM, Global Hospitality Professional

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

A Compelling Business Case for Club Kitchen Renovations2023-09-26T17:25:57+00:00

Is a Healthier Future for Club Chefs Possible?

Is a Healthier Future for Club Chefs Possible?

Over the past forty years, the culinary industry has undergone remarkable changes, driven by advancements in equipment technology, cooking methods, and the workforce. As our profession evolves, we must also address unforeseen challenges, such as a cashless economy, the rise of food channels, and the culture of bottled water. Amidst these shifts, one thing remains constant—the physical demands of our profession as club chefs.

Innovation has touched every aspect of our culinary world, from the introduction of computer-controlled cooking systems to the infusion of technology in bread ovens and ice cream machines. However, despite all these progressions, the kitchen will always be a fast-paced, physical environment requiring a healthy and agile workforce. As we embrace new techniques and trends, we must not overlook the importance of physical well-being and its impact on our profession’s future.

The sustainability of our culinary workforce is a growing concern. The physical requirements of our profession demand a healthy and flexible body capable of producing artisanal creations that delight our members and guests. Culinary schools face the challenge of admitting students who can endure the rigors of the kitchen. Health privacy laws prevent us from knowing the physical condition of potential students before they invest in their culinary education.

To ensure a healthier future for our industry, we need to prioritize the well-being of our workforce. Events and gatherings should incorporate topics focusing on maintaining a healthy profession and inviting world-class medical professionals to share insights on physical well-being. Additionally, we can work towards offering healthier meal options at these events, promoting raw, fresh ingredients that reflect the care we have for our members.

As chefs, we have a unique responsibility to lead by example in matters of food ingestion. The public relies on us to understand how different ingredients and cooking methods affect the nutritional value of their meals. By advocating for healthier options and transparent menu labeling, we can empower our customers to make informed choices.

Our role as club chefs goes beyond just creating delicious dishes; it extends to promoting a healthier lifestyle through our culinary creations. Just as a doctor’s diet is a reflection of their field, our eating habits hold a significant impact as representatives of the culinary profession. By valuing and prioritizing quality ingredients, we contribute to the public’s understanding of the importance of a healthy diet.

Ultimately, the future impact of our profession lies not only in the words of an Executive Chef, but in the example they set through their own choices. Embracing a healthy lifestyle and demonstrating our commitment to well-being will strengthen our profession and inspire positive change in the broader culinary landscape.

Let us continue to innovate and improve our craft while remembering that a healthy workforce is the cornerstone of a thriving culinary future. By prioritizing the health of our profession, we can ensure that the art of culinary excellence endures for generations to come.

 

Lawrence McFadden, CMC, ECM, Global Hospitality Professional
Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a Certified Master Chef and Search & Consulting Executive for KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He is also Executive in Charge of the Club Leadership Alliance Food & Beverage Experience Network. Prior to joining KK&W and CLA, Lawrence served as General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. His impressive 30-year career spans the globe with roles in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as some iconic operations state-side, including The Greenbrier, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Ritz Carlton Company and The Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Is a Healthier Future for Club Chefs Possible?2023-08-21T15:04:58+00:00
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