Rosemary Prisock, Director of Hospitality, Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, Mississippi, USA. Recipe on right: Old Waverly Lemon Ice Box Pie
When I met Rosemary Prisock at Old Waverly Golf Club, I was immediately taken with her intelligence and wide range of food, beverage and hospitality talents. She fits seamlessly into Old Waverly without ever trying to take credit for her efforts, rather she focuses the credit on her team. She has a large knowledge of what the Bryan family are trying to accomplish at Old Waverly and during my stay there, I saw first hand how she is the gel that keeps the front and back of the house focused and together. ~ Diana DeLucia
GK: Are you from Mississippi, Rosemary?
I am from Starkville, Mississippi, home of Mississippi State University. In 1984, I became a graduate, when I majored in Communications and Public Relations.
GK: You moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. What took you there?
Upon graduation, I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. I quickly discovered that in Louisiana and especially New Orleans, everything was all about the food, but I was not in the food business. I was in the real estate business. The time I spent in New Orleans exposed me to new food and I became very interested in the different cuisines. Even though I was working in real estate, I had friends that cooked Cajun style, so I learned a lot as I was not exposed to that type of cuisine before.
My mother was a great cook, in fact exquisite, but she had no formal training. She just learned because she had to cook for her four brothers and four sisters. She couldn’t tell you a recipe, but she cooked by sight, feel, touch and taste. You know, that’s just the way she cooked.
I moved back to Starkville and earned another degree in Paralegal Studies at Mississippi University for Women. So then I was a Paralegal, which also has nothing to do with food, but it has helped me in this job reviewing contracts with bands and entertainment that we book, celebrities that come here, and other matters requiring legal documents, accounting and even membership services.
In 1992 I moved to Clearwater, Florida and began my club business career at Clearwater Country Club, which was owned by Club Corporation of America (CCA). CCA owns or operates over 200 clubs throughout the world, so I got to travel a lot, and I became more interested in both the club and food business.
GK: How did you end up at Old Waverly?
I was considering coming back home at about the time Old Waverly was opening, and I thought it might be a good match. I could be home and be a great Auntie to my brother’s new baby girls. It turned out to be a perfect fit, and I’ve been here for 22 years.
When I first came to Old Waverly I was working in catering and banquet sales. I was not working with the chef at that time as he was in transition and left right after I got here. Then our next chef was David Schnell, and we all worked well together as a team. He came from Houston, Texas, so he had some Southern cuisine experience, and that’s what Old Waverly kitchen was about - producing high-quality Southern food.
How did you meet Mr. Bryan?
I grew up knowing the Bryan name. When my mother would send me to the store to buy sausages or something that she needed, she would tell me to make sure I got the Bryan brand. She would say, “It’s a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.” So I knew all about Bryan Brothers, which was the original company name. Bryan Brothers started in West Point, where Old Waverly is located, and we grew up close by in Starkville, so their roots were here. I could tell this was a perfect fit. It was family-oriented and that was what I wanted, and I have been here ever since.
GK: Mr. Bryan told me that you understand his concepts very well. What did he mean by that?
Oh, that is nice to hear…
I love the Bryan family. The way I was brought up is the way that they raised their family. We never had to “figure it out.” I got them, and they got me.
GK: Did Old Waverly always have a high level of cuisine?
When I first started at Old Waverly, it was all about the golf. Golf ruled, as it should. The food and beverage side of the club was not as important. That has changed now, and not just here, but all across America. With the growth of the Food Network and other food channels, people are just more interested in it. We have seen that evolve here too, and our members are more involved. We have a social membership here for people who just dine here and don’t play golf, so we have to be at a high level with our food and service department.
Our expertise is perfectly seasoned and high quality Southern cuisine. Occasionally, we hold events here with the Memphis Wine and Food Society, which requires preparing very different dishes, like Foie gras and other French-based cuisine. Our culinary team is able to successfully diversify their preparation and presentation for many types of cuisine.
GK: Tell us about the Smokehouse.
We have our own smokehouse here where we can smoke ribs, chicken, turkey, and ham. With Mr. Bryan’s background in the meat business, he is going to feature the Smokehouse recipes on a regular basis.
GK: Explain how that came about.
The Bryan family business began with Bryan Bacon and Bryan Sausage. Of course, they are typically breakfast foods. We have become known for having a great breakfast buffet - not over the top - just good classic eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits and gravy. People who don’t cook that much at home, and especially our members that live on the property, always enjoy our breakfast buffet. Frankie is our grits queen. She knows the family recipe and she knows how to prepare them perfectly.