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Country Club vs Restaurant

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey Everybody,

 

I have worked in country clubs the past three years and have been recently looking for a new job. I have an awesome opportunity to join another excellent country club near me. The issue is that i feel like I'm not sure if i'm losing out on opportuities to learn more or if I am just looking for something just because. I've had two seasons experience in actual restaurants but it was just as a fry/salad cook at a local restaurant. So my question is what would you do and why?

 

Thank you for your input!

post #2 of 25

Country clubs work like this.

 

PEOPLE GET WHATEVER THEY WANT. I don't like being blunt like that, but it's how they work.. there is no rules, menu's, etc..  there are guidelines that the staff will follow, to a certain point.

 

If you can accept that fact, you'll be fine, because they pay a lot more money, and depending on the chef, you can learn so much.. i've been lucky to learn from a couple of the best chefs in New England, but I also have to deal with everything else on the side, as well.

post #3 of 25

You usually get to run a much higher food cost percentage at a country club, so thats one added bonus as you usually get to work with some great product :P

post #4 of 25

In most cases country club menues are more diverse. There are Theme Night dinners. You are also dealing with a sought of captured clientel, so it shold be different as to not bore them with the same all the time. You get to do elaborate presentations on the buffets, restaurants in most cases don't have them. Usually clubs pay better and better benefits, rarely will they go broke. You get to deal with many foods from all nations. . Much better chance for overtime pay.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies but maybe i worded my question wrong. I've worked in both but certainly do not claim to know what both are 100% about. I'm just wondering where i can learn and advance my career more.

 

I know the restaurant is riskier but i feel like if i can get into the right place i'll be able to progress much faster.

 

Thoughts?

post #6 of 25

Already answered you re.. my opinion . Its your choice

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'm sorry i thought you just were explaining positives and negatives. Thank you

post #8 of 25

I've worked all my life in the biz and would NEVER go back to a regular restaurant. Clubs have Better money, Better product to work with, More flexible food cost and labor cost, different events so you don't get board doing the same old thing, We just did a swim in movie night, very cool. coming up is a car show and dinner on the course, again very cool.....Oh did I say better Money.....I'm not rich but I make a pretty good living doing the club scene. I have 15 more years to work and would like to finish up my career here at the Oswego Lake Country Club......also after awhile it becomes a family atmosphere after getting to know your members.....If you can move into a chef or sous chef position you can really set yourself up for a very lucrative career with a lot of fredom and creativity.....also if your in the right state you work your ass off in summer and kick back in the winter....

post #9 of 25

Depending on location and club sometime you work harder in off season because you have less staff.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 25

Also there are some pretty good perks for the chef. I ran one back in the mid 80s in the Los Angeles area and was allowed to play golf monday thru friday any time I felt like blowin out of the kitchen. Also better food cost for sure and the freedom to pretty much plan all the food for your parties as well as Banquet and Buffet experience. This job became a boon on my resume and gave me the back up to move up in my pay scale at my next jobs.

Good luck, Doug.........

The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #11 of 25

Everyone needs to spend a little time at the club......it's a whole different ball game.  "Chef and sous chef were reportedly driving  golf carts erratically across the fairway"......I had to explain that one a couple of times.

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post

Everyone needs to spend a little time at the club......it's a whole different ball game.  "Chef and sous chef were reportedly driving  golf carts erratically across the fairway"......I had to explain that one a couple of times.

usually after the Christmas party

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

I hear all of what everyone is saying and I appreciate it. But I'm not in it for the money now. I'm currently the grill cook at the country club I work at but i'd be willing to take a Garde Manger or prep cook at a restaurant if i thought i could learn more. I know the products are all grade A in clubs but i figure if i can learn to make wicked dishes with OK product i could transfer those skills back to the product club gets and elevate dishes that much further. You also mentioned a less strict food cost in clubs, but again i feel like restaurants could teach me to use more of everything. But who knows, maybe it would just be smart to stay in clubs......Anyway wher do you think i could strictly LEARN more. I don't care about pay or benefits or position, i just want to learn more.

post #14 of 25

Most restaurants do not have a Garde" Manger they have a pantry or salad person. The Garde" in a club or hotel does all the displays and fancy platter work only where the pantry does the rest (salads, appis etc)

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamBurgerDavis View Post

I hear all of what everyone is saying and I appreciate it. But I'm not in it for the money now. I'm currently the grill cook at the country club I work at but i'd be willing to take a Garde Manger or prep cook at a restaurant if i thought i could learn more. I know the products are all grade A in clubs but i figure if i can learn to make wicked dishes with OK product i could transfer those skills back to the product club gets and elevate dishes that much further. You also mentioned a less strict food cost in clubs, but again i feel like restaurants could teach me to use more of everything. But who knows, maybe it would just be smart to stay in clubs......Anyway wher do you think i could strictly LEARN more. I don't care about pay or benefits or position, i just want to learn more.

Don't get too rosy of glasses about a restaurant... most of them don't give you the chance to "learn to use more of everything".   Most go to Sysco and / or frozen pre-portioned etc.  Don't get me wrong many places do it right but i'd say they are in the minority.

 

Honestly - work your way up the club chain before deciding to go and try other stuff.   IF you jump club right now you're likely going to get slammed and likely canned as the grill cook at an average restaurant ... you'll be expecting too much, and likely not be used to the low cost - high speed mentality.

 

But - do what you want too... explore / travel etc. I'll be the first to say that I've made mistakes ... gone to the wrong places and done the right / wrong things but still done very well.  

 

This is a very forgiving business if you can 'produce' ... ie. get the damn job done.  (standards are where you find the differences - clubs generally = higher standarc, your avg resto = lesser... now if  you have an in for the french laundry, alinea or wd50 well then stop typing and get on a plane)

 

ymmv

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #16 of 25
Quote:
But - do what you want too... explore / travel etc. I'll be the first to say that I've made mistakes ... gone to the wrong places and done the right / wrong things but still done very well.

That's the truth. In the end, you are in control of what you do and don't learn from any given situation. All of your achievements and accolades will be because YOU pushed yourself to succeed, not because you choose to work prep in a restaurant over grill in a club.

Also, who you work for is more important than the type of place. There are great chefs ands bad chefs everywhere. We cannot say that club or restaurant chefs are generally better than the other, they are all the same, mostly average, some DBs, some great. Your job is to stay open, make the most of your opportunities, and when you make a bad decision, learn from it and move on.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you Michael and Sparkie, that makes a lot of sense. If you've seen my other thread I've been reading a lot of chef's autobiographies and maybe that glamour is getting stuck in my head with restaurants where in fact it's usually much shittier. The one thing I really want to avoid is becoming complacent at a club and never getting a chance to do better stuff. But it sounds like a smart move to climb the club chain of command then look around. Thanks again everyone!
post #18 of 25

Florida statistics       Rest Chef   $40,000 -60,000 year maybe benefits and bmall xmas bonus  

 

  Club Chef   $48000---130,000. year plus bonus, benefits and xmas bonus.(most time 1 week salary)

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #19 of 25

You can do real pastry and garde manger work at a club.  You can develop menus.  You can take classes.  You can work on your certification.  You can do competitions.  Wonder why so many CC chefs are CEC?  ;)  If you get into the correct one you can really learn about cooking.

 

You will do banquets.  You will run the concession stand.  You will do the Friday fish fry and Tuesday ladies' outing.  You will do cigar dinners, outdoor pig roasts.  You will do brunch.

 

All said, working in a quality club will take you through all stages of traditional cooking from barely better than McFood to Ritz Carlton dining. 

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View PostAll said, working in a quality club will take you through all stages of traditional cooking from barely better than McFood to Ritz Carlton dining. 

Virtually every country club, to which I'm familiar, requires members to spend significant dollars monthly in its dining facility. It ensures that there will be a steady clientele and consistency of staffing and work hours. It makes job stability far more likely in a country club than in any restaurant. We're all are well aware of how many restaurants go belly-up, daily, in large metro areas.

It was also mentioned that in a country club, you become increasingly familiar and friendly with your clientele; a major plus. And, of course, as kuan noted, you get to grill brats and Kobe.

post #21 of 25

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it sounds to me like you still live in your parent's house when you say things like "I'm not in it for the money now.", and "I don't care about pay or benefits or position, i just want to learn more.". OMG kid, are you married to a rich woman? What you learn is all up to you. All of everything about working at a CC is better than a restaurant. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #22 of 25

BINGO we have a winner !!!!

post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Florida statistics       Rest Chef   $40,000 -60,000 year maybe benefits and bmall xmas bonus  

 

  Club Chef   $48000---130,000. year plus bonus, benefits and xmas bonus.(most time 1 week salary)

sorry forgot this

post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

Ha thanks Iceman. I do not live at my parents nor do i have a rich woman but i do have a very low rent, as of now anyway, but i am only 20 so what i was saying was experience is more important than money, at the moment. But i am definitely feeling the club scene now though!

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamBurgerDavis View Post

The one thing I really want to avoid is becoming complacent at a club and never getting a chance to do better stuff.

 

Working in a club is no different than working in a restaurant in this regard. If you find yourself getting complacent or feel stuck in a position then next season move to another club. Clubs are also like restaurants in the sense that there are very run of the mill clubs and very exclusive clubs. Assuming you are working under a respectable chef IMO you will learn more in a CC simply because of the multiple techniques and the range of products you will get to work with. Garde Manger in most of the better clubs is about as high end as it gets plus there is often a butcher and a pastry chef to learn from as well as nice equipment. As others mentioned doing theme dinners and buffets can be a lot of fun. In several clubs I've worked we had killer maintenance guys that would build big props for theme buffets. While there are select personalities to deal with in a club you get to know your clients and what they like very well. Not every club will expect you to take any unreasonable abuse from a member. I worked in one private club where we had a member that was a real a** hat.  During service he called me out bitchin and moaning and the owner finally had enough of his mouth and walked up to the table and tossed his 25K membership fee on his plate and told him to GTFO. Working in clubs has a lot of great moments. As far as free golf goes most clubs allow the staff to golf for free the day the course is closed and when you get to know the members there can be a lot of nice perks.

Hint; The starter should be your new best friend.  cool.gif

The erratic golf cart driving comment had me rolling and then there was that poker night party party with the ...uhmmmm ladies of the night on the putting green.lol.gif Lots of good times at a club that you just don't get to enjoy in a free standing restaurant.

The vast majority of my work has been for Clubs and Hotels. I would not change that and the only time pay shouldn't be an issue is if you secure a slot in a restaurant with a chef that is so good it will pay off in the future. In years past here if you could survive a year under Chef Milos at the Golden Mushroom you could pretty much write your own ticket. Other than situations like that when you get back into a restaurant and you get cut off at 40 instead of making all that OT wages will become very important. Especially as you get older.

Which ever path you choose if you do decide you want to branch out and try working in a restaurant under a well known Chef for a lot less $$$ the time to do that is when you are young.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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