The fourth annual Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence Awards and the first Golf Kitchen Invitational sponsored by The National Golf Course Restaurant Association (NGCRA) at the prestigious GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, New York, was a sell-out event and enjoyed by all on September 8th, 2022.
Competing teams arrived at the GlenArbor clubhouse at 11 a.m., built on the White Estate site, one of the largest historic estates in the Town of Bedford. Designed by Mark Finlay of Fairfield, Connecticut, the 30,000 square feet clubhouse is situated on a commanding site overlooking the golf course and provides countless amenities in an intimate and comfortable environment.
The Golf Kitchen Invitational kicked off at 11:00 a.m. 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 Links Drinks, and practice shots at the driving range started the day. At 12.30 p.m., foursomes enjoyed a shotgun start by GlenArbor Starter Keith Hernandez and the entire Golf Shop and Outside Service Staff 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, Connecticut, served up first-class course cuisine and signature cocktails including Citrus Cured Ahi Tuna with Avocado Terrine, Imperial Caviar, Yuzu Scented Crème Fraiche, Poppadom 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, New York created a Street Taco Station with Pulled Pork, Shibazi Chicken and Duck Tacos with lots of add-ins and paired a classic Azalea cocktail. Kelly Morrow, the Executive Chef at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, New Jersey, served Tennessee Hot Chicken Sliders with Pimento Cheese, Habanero Hot Sauce, and Spicy Pickles and then packed a burning hot taste with his Cherry Moonshine Lemonade!
Winners of the Invitational were announced during the awards dinner; Gross Winner: Warren Burdock, Brian Conroy, Chris Meringolo, and Philip Manceri of Wee Burn Country Club, Net Winner: Matthew Mosebrook, Branden Komm, Tim Hughes and Tim Mullen of Chefs Warehouse, Closest to the Pin on Hole #11: Patrik Waxin of the National Golf Course Restaurant Association and Longest Drive on Hole #15: Scott Vallary, Business Development, DE Title.
Members of GlenArbor, Invitational participants, and guests began arriving at 6:30 p.m. for this annual 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 fantastic live-action station consisting of Veal Breast, Wild Mushrooms, and Butternut Spaetzle. Zouhair Bellout, Executive Chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Georgia, delivered his live-action station of Black Garlic Macarons, Kabocha Squash, Cured Duck, Rosewater Pickled Onion Jam, and Micro Mustard Greens, and his action station Crispy Rice, Tuna, Chili Garlic, Spicy Mayo with Caviar, Green Onions, and Micro Greens.
The Macallan provided cocktail hour tastings, Wines were supplied by Caymus and Martinis by Lucinda Sterling, Managing Partner at Middle Branch cocktail lounge in Manhattan. A cover band led by Johnny Bliss entertained with classical jazz and Spanish music fitting for the occasion.
“It was a great experience; cooking with all the different chefs and meeting other industry individuals is always fun. Needless to say, being a part of the movement of showcasing the high level of culinary talent at golf clubs is a great honor,” said Zouhair Bellout, Executive Chef at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
The weather was perfect from start to finish, and at 7.30 p.m., guests were ushered to the main dining room for more culinary adventures.
Fernando Silva, Wine Director, Sommelier, and Wine Critic, at GlenArbor, was the evening’s MC and opened the dinner with an entertaining speech for which he is renowned, followed by Golf Kitchen’s President Diana DeLucia. Delucia discussed the event’s development and purpose and future initiatives and introduced Steve Cohen, President of NGCRA, the event’s Lead Sponsor.
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-Mihajlovic, Chef de Cuisine at Addison Reserve Country Club and the 2021 Golf Kitchen Rising Star awardee. Silva paired the dish with Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, Fairfield, California, 2021.
The first awardee of the night in attendance was Chrissie Bennett, Executive Chef at Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York. DeLucia presented Chef Bennett with the 2022 Rising Star Award with a heartfelt statement about her journey to one of the industry’s finest golf establishments.
The second course was served by Wes Tyler CEC, CCA, WCMC, Executive Chef at The Club at Carlton Woods, The Woodlands, Texas. His Epigrammes de Filet de Sole au Grand-Duc with Poached Crayfish Tails, Buttered Asparagus Tips, Sliced Autumn Truffles, Mushroom Liquor, and Soft Herbs was a hit and was paired with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Saint Lucia Highlands, California 2020.
The Purveyor of the Year award was presented to Natalia Cabrera, President of Khayyan Specialty Foods, who has been a strong advocate for Club chefs and continuously brings superior products from Spain and Italy to the industry. Next, 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.
The 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 Falls Country Club in Highlands, North Carolina, paired with Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 2020.
Marisa Hernandez, the Executive Pastry Chef at GlenArbor Golf Club, 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 Hildebrandt, Assistant General Manager at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“After an exhaustive review of Wine Lists and Wine programs from all the Private Clubs, I found that the most suitable candidate for this prestigious award was definitely Alfredo Hildebrandt at Sycamore Hills Golf Club”. “The passion and sincere thirst for knowledge is key in 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.” expressed Fernando Silva.
“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.
Silva and DeLucia closed the event with a tasting of The Macallan, tea, and coffee; guests signed the traditional aprons and collected gift bags.