A sister club exchange program allows McConnell Golf chefs to mix things up
There's wisdom in that old adage, “two heads are better than one,” especially when it comes to dining programs at McConnell Golf. “We asked our chefs to take a turn both hosting a chef and visiting a chef during the year,” says James Patterson (aka JP), the company’s corporate executive chef who oversees the culinary programs at Sedgefield Country Club and The Cardinal by Pete Dye. “It could be any type of event, a beer dinner, a wine dinner, a farm-to-table dinner, even a member-guest.”
Each of the sister properties differ based on size, membership, and activities, and each chef has his own style and menu. Some are more formal, others laid-back. So the informal exchange program lets the chefs switch things up. “It gives us a chance to step outside our box and our comfort zone, and go to another property and see what that chef and that staff deals with on a daily basis,” states Chef JP, who honed his cooking skills in the distinguished kitchens of Cypress and Magnolia restaurants in Charleston, SC. “It gives us a chance to do things for another club’s membership that they may not see on a regular basis, and gives us a chance to see what the chef at that property is capable of.”
In addition to these individual visits, all the chefs come together each year for the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield. The result is a collective culinary brain trust.
“Anytime we get an opportunity to cook with another chef or another staff or even go to an event where we’re volunteering our time, it broadens our horizons and gives us an ability to see different styles, different flavors, different presentations,” declares JP, who makes it a point to visit other cities to stay on top of current culinary trends. “There’s so much to gain from working with other people."
At one Sedgefield event, he hosted chefs Jason Neal from Providence Country Club and Todd Jackson from Wakefield. “We let them have their own Knife Fight [based on the former TV show], where they each had mystery ingredients they had to cook with, and our members were the judges. So the members got to see how Todd cooks and how Jason cooks and they got to vote for what they liked.” That type of exchange gives members another reason to come to the club – “it creates another buzz,” as JP puts it. “Whatever we can do to mix things up, that’s what we’re looking for in the club business; to come up with that next idea.”
The visiting chefs program puts the onus on individual chefs to continue to push the envelope. “Visiting other clubs really does push our chefs to be as creative as possible and to give members the best dining experience possible,” JP notes. “And for McConnell Golf, it’s a point of pride to be able to say we’ve got some of the best chefs out there.”