Segment Spotlight: County and city club chefs have made some permanent pivots

Two years after pandemic shutdowns, some pivots have become permanent fixtures  

By Lauren Kramer

If there’s one truth that’s been magnified by the pandemic, it’s that ‘normal’ no longer exists. COVID-19 has changed everything in the food and beverage industry, and no

chef has gone unscathed. While the private or pre-paid membership base of clubs and resorts delivers a certain insularity to this segment of the industry, chefs have nonetheless been forced to adapt in order to stay afloat and keep their guests safe and happy. The strategies chefs have implemented to make this happen endure to this day, and perhaps the only silver lining is the guests themselves, who are keener than ever to eat out, socialize and place themselves in convivial, nourishing environments.

Supply Chain Management

Chef Nick Barrington, CEC, executive chef at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, has found that close personal relationships with suppliers are essential. “The supply chain is incredibly difficult now,” he says, “and without those relationships, you’re in trouble, as it becomes very difficult to take care of your customer base.”

Chef Brian Beland, CMC, AAC, executive chef at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, has managed his supply chain challenges by keeping a diverse portfolio of vendors, including broadliners and a large group
of local purveyors for proteins. “By doing that, with a little adapting to the product that’s available, we’ve been able to maintain our supplies,” he says. “We also started increasing our inventory of dry goods and items like carryout containers to help us get through a longer cycle.”

Stockpiling has been impossible for ACF Chef Jason Banusiewicz, executive chef at the University Club of Boston. “I don’t have a lot of space in downtown Boston to stockpile food
in a walk-in cooler, so I’ve had to simplify my food and focus on being adaptable and pragmatic,” he says. Supply chain issues are a daily challenge, forcing him to think 48 hours ahead at all times.

That’s meant switching from composed dishes to dishes with a la carte sides and utilizing ingredients that are available at any one time. Fortunately, the guests have embraced this new menu. “People are excited to get back to the club, and they’re more appreciative and understanding now about foodservice

challenges than they were before
the pandemic,” Chef Banusiewicz says. The enthusiasm to eat out was demonstrated when Valentine’s
Day brunch at the club sold out within 30 minutes of reservations becoming available, forcing Chef Banusiewicz to create another seating to accommodate the demand.

Menu Adaptations

How food is served has changed significantly, Chef Banusiewicz says. “Before, we offered a buffet, but now we have a prix fixe dining experience for kids and adults, with an at-table activity like cookie decorating to keep the kids entertained,” he says. “It’s a slight transformation, but guests like it, and they really appreciate the effort our industry is putting in.”