Club Chefs Rise to the Occasion in Bedford Hills, NY

(L-R) Hannah Flora Mihajlovic, Executive Sous Chef at Addison Reserve; Zouhair Bellout, Executive Chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee; Anthony Capua, Executive Chef at Sycamore Hills Golf Club; Dwayne Edwards, Culinary Director and Shawn Olah, Executive Chef at Highlands Falls Country Club, celebrate with a Martini!

The first annual Golf Kitchen Invitational and the fourth annual Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards, sponsored by the National Golf Course Restaurant Association (NGCRA), took place last month at GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, NY. 

The Golf Kitchen Invitational kicked off in Bedford Hills at 11:00 AM with well wishes via video from Rob Labritz, Tour Champion and Director of Golf at GlenArbor. A continental breakfast and a Transfusion station supplied by Fred Evanko, Owner of LinksDrinks, and practice shots at the driving range started the day. At 12.30 PM, foursomes enjoyed a shotgun start by GlenArbor Starter, Keith Hernandez, and the entire Golf Shop and Outside Service Staff and proceeded their day on the renowned Gary Player-designed golf course. 

Local area club chefs were stationed out on the course and served up a mini feast that was enjoyed by participants and members of the prestigious club. Matt O’Connor, Director of Culinary Operations at Wee Burn Country Club, Darian, CT, served up first-class course cuisine and signature cocktails including Citrus Cured Ahi Tuna with Avocado Terrine, Imperial Caviar, Yuzu Scented Crème Fraiche, Poppadum Crisps and Cilantro paired with a Tequila Lime Sparkler. Matthew Norman, Sous Chef at Pine Orchard Yacht Club, Branford, CT served Seared Diver Scallops with Native Corn, Chili Infused Tomato, and Cucumber Froth paired with a Basil Cucumber Gin Fizz; Daniel Hess CC. CHS Chef de Cuisine at Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, NY, created a Street Taco Station with Pulled Pork, Shibazi Chicken, and Duck Tacos with Lots of Add-Ins and paired a classic Azalia cocktail. Kelly Morrow, the Executive Chef at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, NJ, served Tennessee Hot Chicken Sliders with Pimento Cheese, Habanero Hot Sauce, and Spicy Pickles and then humored guests with a burning hot taste with his Cherry Moonshine Lemonade! 

Members of GlenArbor, Invitational participants, and other guests began arriving at 6:30 PM for the event’s cocktail hour on the Lakeview Terrace. Michael Ruggiero, Executive Chef, and his staff at GlenArbor provided a unique experience with Passed hors d’oeuvres and a live-action station consisting of Veal Breast, Wild Mushrooms, and Butternut Spaetzle. Zouhair Bellout, Executive Chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, GA, delivered Black Garlic Macaroons, Kabusha Squash, Cured Duck, Rosewater Pickled Onion Jam, and Micro Mustard Greens, and his live-action station Crispy Rice, Tuna, Chili Garlic, Spicy Mayo with Caviar, Green Onions, and Micro Greens. The Macallan, Wines by Caymus, and Lucinda Sterling, Managing Partner of Middle Branch and Seaborne, supplied the beverages. A cover band led by Johnny Bliss entertained with classical jazz and Spanish music.

Fernando Silva, Wine Director, Sommelier, and Wine Critic, was the evening’s MC and opened the dinner at 7.30 PM with an entertaining speech, followed by Diana DeLucia of Golf Kitchen. Delucia discussed the event’s development, purpose, and future initiatives and introduced Steven Cohen, President of NGCRA, the event’s Lead Sponsor. 

“The Golf Kitchen Invitational and Culinary Excellence Awards dinner is a truly spectacular event that showcases the work of great Chefs from around the country. The planning, networking, and passion that went into every aspect of the day exceeded all expectations. The NGCRA was proud to be the Lead Sponsor!” ~ Steven Cohen, CEO, National Golf Course Restaurant Association. 

The first course was a Korean Braised Pork Belly with Red Beet Gnocchi, Yuzu Compressed Melon, Chipotle Honey Gastrique, Pork Fat Crumb, Strawberry Fluid Gel, Carrot Ginger Silk, Upland Cress, Basil Crystal, and Finger Lime created by Hannah Flora, Chef de Cuisine at Addison Reserve, Delray Beach, FL, and the 2021 Golf Kitchen Rising Star awardee. Silva paired the dish with Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, Fairfield, California, 2021.

Chrissie Bennett Winged Foot
Chrissie Bennett, Executive Chef at Winged Foot Golf Club receives the 2022 Golf Kitchen Rising Star Award. (Photo credit: Wei Liu)

The first awardee of the night was Chrissie Bennett, Executive Chef at Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, NY. Chef Bennett received the 2022 Rising Star Award. 

The second course served by Wes Tyler CEC, CCA, at The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands, TX was Epigrammes de Filet de Sole au Grand-Duc with Poached Crayfish Tails, Buttered Asparagus Tips, Sliced Autumn Truffles, Mushroom Liquor, and Soft Herbs paired with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Saint Lucia Highlands, California 2020.

The Purveyor of the Year award went to Natalia Cabrera, President of Khayyan Specialty Foods. “Natalia is a strong advocate for Club chefs and continuously brings superior products from Spain and Italy to the industry,” stated DeLucia. 

The Culinary Excellence Award for an Outstanding Private Golf Club or Country Club was presented to Wes Tyler on behalf of The Club at Carlton Woods. 

Third course was Herb Crusted Loin of Domestic Lamb, Cauliflower Cream, Golden Raisin, Parisienne Potato, Maitre D, Natural Ash, and Griotte Cherry Glace presented by Shawn Olah, Executive Chef at Highlands Fall Country Club in Highlands, NC, paired with Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 2020. 

Marisa Hernandez, Pastry Chef at GlenArbor, ended the dinner flawlessly with a Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake with Lemon Mousse, Grapefruit, and Poached Red Wine Pears, paired with Peyraguey, Premier Cru Classe de Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 2009.

Fernando Silva presented the second annual Golf Kitchen Wine Program Award to Alfredo Hildebrant, Assistant General Manager at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, Fort Wayne, IN. 

“After an exhaustive review of Wine Lists and Wine programs from Private Clubs, I found the most suitable candidate for this prestigious award was Alfredo Hildebrandt at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. Passion and a sincere thirst for knowledge are key to defining the role of the Modern-day Sommelier or Wine Director! It was a great honor to discover such talent and qualities in an individual like Alfredo,” said Fernando Silva.

“This event was a memorable night for all. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming from start to finish. The menu was outstanding, with delectable dishes and the perfect pairing of wines. Every chef exceeded my expectations and took the time to speak about their dishes thoughtfully. The awards ceremony throughout the night highlighted such wonderful and talented individuals,” added Caroline Assumma, Member Communications and SM Coordinator at Winged Foot. 

For a complete list of winners and awardees, go to

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