The Benefits of a Culinary Career in the Private Golf and Country Club Industry

A sampling of the high end culinary output from golf & country club chefs includes Baby Octopus with Pickled Mustard Seeds, Garden Tomato Pico, Compressed Watermelon, Crispy Plantain and Petit Greens, recipe by Anthony Capua, Executive Chef at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Why would you pursue a culinary career at a private golf and country club? Isn’t that where chefs go to retire?

The private golf and country club industry has come a long way in the last 12 years; no longer is it acceptable to have a mediocre culinary team. Having worked for NY Restaurant Insider in the 2000s, I learned a lot about the restaurant culture and what great days they were. It is sad to see that culture restructured during the pandemic. 

Private clubs had to adapt as memberships and waiting lists grew as affluent people, young and old, began finding alternative places where they could meet with their friends. With this greater demand came a greater need for unique culinary experiences, and clubs excelled. Clubs were a great option they may have never considered before 2020.

What is so different at a club? 

You will learn all facets of culinary operations from breakfast, lunch, fine dining, wine dinners, tournaments, events, and banquets. You will be able to give input and ideas if you find the right club. The club life brings some challenges with the current staff shortages, but what you will find if you are the right personality type is a second home that will help you to succeed in your career. 

Will I be fairly compensated at a club? 

The pay is much higher at a private club with health benefits and other perks; many include staff housing or rental and gas allowances depending on the location. Career advancement opportunities are available if you seek them. Many chefs study to become club managers, which in turn continues to improve the culinary culture. 

I am interested in a career in wine and mixology is there a place for me at a private club?

Campfire Old Fashioned Cocktail
A sampling of the high end culinary output from golf & country club mixologists include the Campfire Old Fashioned, recipe by Jeremy Bland, Mixologist at The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands, Texas.

Mixologists and sommeliers now have a new field for career advancement nationwide. With the influx of new and younger members comes the demand for artisan cocktails and fine wines. Wine dinners are the latest must-have at the club, wine lists are being overhauled, and the need for a club wine director or sommelier is growing. Members’ demand for higher quality wines and wine education is driving this. 

I am noticing that the younger executive chefs in the business are learning about mixology and wines to better master menu creations. This knowledge is passed on to all interested in learning, staff or members. Wine brands are starting to take notice; what better-targeted market could you find if you are a smaller but prestigious wine brand? 

Will I have any opportunity for awards, or accolades?

At GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, we have created several new industry initiatives. We have the annual Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards, The Wine Program Award, and a Private Club-targeted Wine Review program led by Fernando Silva. These initiatives have developed with much support in the industry itself. We developed a Certification of Culinary Excellence program during the pandemic, which we will continue to evolve. In 2023, I hope to begin an international staging program to enhance the talent pool in the industry further. 

Raspberry Tesseract Dessert
A sampling of the high end culinary output from golf & country club chefs and mixologists include the Raspberry Tesseract with Raspberry Syrup, Raspberry Mousse, Raspberry Macaron, Raspberry Jam, Buttercream and Jaconde Sponge, recipe by Mike Trabel, Executive Sous Chef at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I love event planning. What opportunities are available?

Clubs are not only hosting golf tournaments, but they are producing multiple events on a daily basis, which calls for a variety of new ideas for all of them. If event planning is your passion, this industry is for you!  

Members may be at the club 4-5 days a week, so the demand for variety is high, further increasing the culinary creativity culture. 

Will I be treated with respect? 

A club is a unique blend of staff and membership; they both need each other. 

I am witnessing younger chefs create new kitchen practices, and no longer is the brigade system king. Yelling is unacceptable at a club, and the culture must be nurturing and encouraging. A toxic culture would never survive in this business.  

In the September 2022 edition of Golf Kitchen magazine, I feature four young executive chefs, two men and two women, from Indiana, New York, and Philadelphia. They have all unique stories and paint a picture of a career in the industry. Chrissie Bennett, Jamaican-born and Bronx-raised, recently took the executive chef role at one of the most renowned golf properties on the planet, Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York; her story is nothing short of inspirational. 

Whatever you put into the club will return to you if you are dedicated. I have seen this over and over again at clubs internationally. If you are interested in a career in the private golf and country club industry, please email me at [email protected]

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