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Country club life

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, I'm curious about working in a country club. I've been starting to get burned out with the fine dining scene. I've heard club cooks generally have better hours and benefits. Is this the sort of greener pastures rumor that exist, or is there some truth to it?

post #2 of 14

Your nights are going to be a lot nicer.  

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post
 

Your nights are going to be a lot nicer.  

I wont be making a move for a year or so at least. Nicer nights in what way? Less covers? Less hours? both?

post #4 of 14

 A lot will depend on the country club.  I've had chef friends that loved it.  I hated my stint at a club, but that was because the members all felt that they should have a say in the menu, and all of them had very specific ideas about how food should be cooked.  I'd have drunk club members come storming into the kitchen to lecture me, or the staff,  on things.  My favorite was that I always had to keep lobster tail and lamb rack around in case guests wanted it.  I couldn't menu it because I hardly ever sold any and most times it would rot before being used.  So I had to keep the stuff frozen and placed a note on the menu that with people could order them with 24-48 hours notice.  Never would happen.  A guest would come in and decide that is what they wanted-and the expectation was it was to be ready in the same amount of time that other peoples' food was ready.  Ever try to thaw and cook a frozen lamb rack or lobster tail in 20+ minutes?  So I stop offering it, and get my a$$ handed to me for not having it available, although everytime I had to serve one, at a moment's notice, I got my a$$ handed to me for not knowing how to cook.  I lasted about 1 1/2 years before I snapped and walked into the GM's office and handed in my 2 week notice (BTW, the GM was my wife and she had no clue that was coming).

post #5 of 14

What Pete said.  LOL!  But, many country club dining rooms close befor 9pm.

post #6 of 14

My experiences were somewhat like Pete's.

 

There were a lot of sales reps on the director's board, and guessy-guessy which suppliers I HAD to use? (rhymes with disco) And then they had the balls to tie my food cost to my salary.  One time I got into a hissy-fit with disco-rep, showed him a pic I snapped of the Chinese fruit & veg store down the street with 99 cent/lb roma tomatoes, and his cost of well over $20 for a friggen flat, then we compared prices of peppers, then the romaine.  He just grinned.....

 

Bqt sales had her head so far up her  rear you coulda sworn her lips were sphincter muscles--wanted me to do a wedding for a member @12/ head with Prime rib and a dessert buffet.

 

The final straw was when I was grilled by the board a few weeks after I started, basically they wanted to know what my golf score was.  I was looking for any excuse I could to get outta there, so I replied:

"Golf?  I've never even held a golf-stick in my hands before" .

 

And my prayers were answered, I was outta there.........

 

Seriously though, there are some well run G & CC clubs out there, I just haven't found any yet.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 14

One of our members owned one of the major liquor distributors in the state.  I had numerous members wanting a specific wine, but this distributor didn't carry it, so I called on rep from another that carried some of the really popular wine brands.  When this guy found out he told me that it would never happen (ordering booze from any company but his) and actually threatened bodily harm.  He was on the BOD, so I told him I wouldn't order from anyone else, but that if he ever thought of threatening me again, I'd make sure that I would force him into a position where he would have to try and then he would be extremely sorry.

 

But then there are the memorable stories such as the time one of our extremely elderly guests was walking across the lobby with his pants falling down as the dining room manager chased him to get his pants pulled up, or having one of the little old ladies try to explain to me why I should make an exception to the rule of no take out boxes for the AYCE holiday buffet, because she was older and can't eat much-this after watching her eat 3 heaping plates of peel-n-eat shrimp. Or watching male members hit on staff, almost to the point of it being sexual harassment and then showing up later that evening with wife and family. Or the occasional fist fight because someone took offense because someone belittled them because they didn't come from money, but actually had to work for it, or, in other cases because they didn't work for their money but had it handed to them. Or being threatened because a member took offense that it was suggested that maybe we should call them a cab because of the 8 scotches they had and they can barely stand let alone drive.

 

Sorry, rant over, but as you can see my country club experience wasn't great.

post #8 of 14

I'll throw one in. One private tennis club I worked in had a sign posted in the lobby basically stating that the employees were not servants and should not be treated like servants. They were employees and needed to be shown respect.  The sign went in to more detail but that was the point. 

     When I asked about it, I was told they had to put the sign up about every six months to remind the members. Ironically, the club had two dining rooms, one gourmet and one cafe with burgers, etc. but the casual  menu outsold the gourmet menu by a large margin. 

      On the other hand, in a private yacht club the members were more relaxed and affable. They ate the good stuff but mostly just came down to hang out on their boats. The quality of food was pretty high and the chef was very skilled so it was a good kitchen to work in. The hours in both were limited to forty and the pay wasn't great but acceptable. 

     I should add that I was part time at the yacht club, brought in for special occasions and odd shift work. I was hired because the new Commodore (elected head of the membership) didn't want to hear that the kitchen staff was ever shorthanded. Commodores were elected for a year. The following year the new Commodore thought staff was bloated so I got let go. 

post #9 of 14
I worked as an ex chef in a country club for several years and left with good terms and made very good money. That being said, unless you have a very thick skin and a great tollarence for bull sh@% you should avoid them like a plague.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm assuming most of them have a problem pretty strict background check as well?
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingfarvito View Post

I'm assuming most of them have a problem pretty strict background check as well?

Where I was at did background checks as well as pre employment psycological testing.

To be fair, I had a very positive work expierence at the CC i was at and it had many 20 year plus employees. However, at least via hearsay, mine was an atypical expierence.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingfarvito View Post
 

Hey guys, I'm curious about working in a country club. I've been starting to get burned out with the fine dining scene. I've heard club cooks generally have better hours and benefits. Is this the sort of greener pastures rumor that exist, or is there some truth to it?

 

My advice for you is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If you're getting burnt out from fine dining there's a reason. Management problems? Cooking standards too high for you? Re-evaluating your career as a whole? Is it just your particular restaurant and your problems fixed by going to a different restaurant?

 

If you're looking to make an honest living cooking and are happy at that level but looking to improve your work and financial conditions I would say yes, a country club might be up your alley. The hours are much better (service usually ends at 9) and you'll see perks you never thought possible in a stand alone restaurant like maybe a paid vacation, some health coverage and minor benefits, holidays off and not to mention typically a better wage for doing less work. There's nothing wrong with this and if you have a lot of years under your belt cooking and just want to better yourself I would say go for it.

 

If you're cooking to become a go-getter looking to learn, grow and hone your craft a typical country club is probably not for you. One problem typically associated with these types of places are that their a la carte service is just not busy which creates a myriad of problems in of itself (if you've managed a dying place or a place on life support you know exactly what I mean). Functions and banquets are really where most of the activity goes on and the the type of food going out is, well, boring function and banquet foods! Also, members and the board directors ultimately dictate what goes on the menu and even how it's cooked. The kitchen is there to serve THEIR needs as they are the ones paying the membership dues which keeps the whole operation running. You're serving people that generally think they're entitled to anything and the kitchen is to make whatever they want whether it's on the menu or not. Even choosing what vendors to use and choosing who to hire in the kitchen may not be up to the head chef which of course also creates problems too.

 

I'm not saying ALL country clubs are like this because they're not. But they have a bad reputation for a reason. Finding a well run country club with a well run kitchen is pretty difficult to find but not impossible. Generally speaking go to one that is busy and caters to a very affluent member base and the chances of the kitchen situation being better increases!

post #13 of 14

i have been lurking for a good while, but as i have a little experience in this, i decided to chime in.  I have been at a private country club for 10yrs, Executive Chef for 7yrs.  Some days it still seems like a difficult transition from a restaurant.

 

 I haven't found my nights to be any more free, but I have found my 16+ hour days increase each year.  Boards of Directors are difficult and have no understanding of how our business operates.  (Always beware of any sentence that begins, "I don't know anything about F&B, but......) Like any group of people the members run the spectrum from the kindest to those that would try the patience of Job. Although our main restaurant is geared toward golfers and teenagers (they eat the same here), there are events that test my skill and knowledge on almost a daily basis.  Like anything else, it is fun, exciting and aggravating. 

 

It's not a bad thing to take a run at if you are interested in a variety of menus and cooking techniques.  

post #14 of 14

I did the CC thing as Exec. Pastry Chef. That should give you an idea of how long ago that was. I always seemed to have a labor problem. Very transient. 

The kitchen budget was always member driven. So if membership dropped, so did your labor even though you might be doing outsides sales and functions up the wazoo.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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