The members at Westchester Hills Golf Club are very proud of young Dan and supportive of his desire to grow
and develop his talent in the industry. Left: Dan Hess, Banquet Chef. Right: Antonio Zepeda, Executive Chef demonstrating a technique with Dan looking on.
Dan Hess grew up watching Emeril Lagasse and other famous chefs on The Food Network and the Cooking Channel, they had inspired him from a very young age. Dan went on to complete an Associates in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors in Business Administration at SUNY Delhi, New York. At 22, Dan has a strong list of achievements in both the theatre and the kitchen. ~ Diana DeLucia
GK: First of all, tell us about your Broadway achievements.
From as young as I can remember, I was interested in musical theater, and I wanted to see Broadway shows. I was involved in the chorus, band, jazz band, concert choir and the performed in an accapella group in high school. I've been in 30 shows. I was part of an off-Broadway acting group, and this allowed me to go to the city and perform with Broadway stars. I can sing, dance, and play almost any instrument.
GK: Do you see a correlation between music and cooking?
Cooking is considered a symphony. We always have to have our eyes and ears open, and we must be paying attention all the time for the service to come together. If you make a mistake, it can ruin the show or the service. And like a symphony working and playing together with a team creates a master piece and has great impacts on viewers aka membership.
GK: What lead you to Westchester Hill Country Club?
Tyler Demarest, the general manager visited my school in searching for an intern to run the pool cafe. He hired me the day after I interviewed and I am now in my third season and was recently promoted to Banquet Chef. I started at the pool and ran that for two years before moving to the main clubhouse and getting a full time job as the Banquet Sous Chef.
GK: How did you get involved in the ACF competitions?
Since my first year of college I have been a member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and have taken full advantage of all they have to offer. I helped train with the hot foods team in college in hopes that some day I would be able to compete on that student team in ACF sanctioned competitions. I was an apprentice for a year and then eventually earned a spot on that team. I competed in individual competitions, team and then the Student Chef competition. I have always looked up the professionals who compete in different categories trying to learn form them so that some day I can compete at that level too.
GK: Does your Executive Chef Tony Zepeda give you opportunities to shine during special dinners at the club?
Yes, I have been very fortunate to do some chefs table dinners and create specials during ala carte service on weekends. One of them was special as I was serving two dishes from my ACF competition. One of the dishes was squab, and I found out that the members were not familiar with it. That is the nervous part of cooking for the members, sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't. Cooking unique foods for members can be a hit or miss. Some of them are willing to try new dishes while others just want the simple meat and potatoes.
GK: Tell us about your new role.
Back in November of 2019 I was promoted to Banquet Sous Chef. I was three months out of college and I became a full time employee at the club. Due to the time of year I only got minimal experience in the position before the club closed for the month of January. Now that we are open and back in full swing I am getting more experience in the role. I assist Chef Tony and make sure all banquets and events go out as efficiently as possible. I still over see the pool café under Chef Tony’s direction and will be in charge and running a mobile wood fire pizza oven new to the club this past November.
GK: What are your long-term goals at Westchester Hills Golf Club?
I hope to earn some great new skills and make many connections with other chefs in the area and members at the club. With the new pizza oven I want to master another skill to add to my repertoire. Working along side Chef Tony has been a great time and I hope to continue it for many years to come. I want to continue trying out new ideas for the membership and want to share my ideas with others in the form of food.
A summer view at Westchester Hills Golf Club. Image courtesy Westchester Hills Golf Club.