Peter Zoole, Executive Chef at Addison Reserve Country Club, Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Images by Gideon Heller
Golf Kitchen asks Chef Zoole how he creates his menu for the first exclusive, once-a-year Underground Club dinner. ~ Diana DeLucia
GK: How do you decide on a menu for your Underground dining event at Addison Reserve? Tell us about your process.
First, I determine which kitchen we will be using and what season we are in. This information assists me in establishing the number of guests and product availability, and then I can assess the number of courses I need to create and in what order they will appear.
Tasting menus need to be progressive with flavors - each course building in strength of flavors. For example, I start with cold, subtle flavors and build throughout the dinner. At this point, I have an outline, for example, light chilled shellfish, vegetable course, fish course, poultry, meat, etc. This is followed with a “brainstorm”. I do this to get the creative juices flowing. I may draw on dishes or parts of recipes that I have seen or created in the past or create entirely new dishes that I have been wanting to try.
GK: Is there typically a theme associated with the dinner?
Generally, there is no theme. Unless a member specifically requests one.
GK: Is pastry an afterthought or a part of the entire vision? Elaborate on that process.
Pastry courses are not an afterthought. I work closely with Chef Dana Ianelli for our menus to make sense. Dana is fantastic and often helps me with the brainstorming process.
GK: How much do you work with the Sommelier when creating your menu?
Once we get the menus nailed down, I share flavor details with our wine people. They then work to pair wines with courses that they think would be the best fit. Of course, what sounds good on paper often does not work, so we do a tasting before the event.
Tempura of Abalone with Glazed Micro Veggies
Dish by Peter Zoole | Image by Gideon Heller
GK: What role do the members have, if any, in the menu creation? Are they happy to be surprised?
If a tasting dinner is specifically requested by a member, then they play an important role in menu planning. I always try to get a feel of what they are looking for, including likes and dislikes.
GK: How do you source your purveyors, and are they the same or ever-changing?
My role here at Addison Reserve as Executive Chef is new. Most, if not all, of our purveyors that we work with have a long, well-established relationship.
GK: Do you think purveyors need to stay focused on quality ongoing, not just at first POS? Does it annoy you when they deliver anything outside of your original agreement? Share your advice to purveyors, if any.
Just like the saying that a Chef is only as good as the last meal he served, purveyors are only as good as their previous delivery. Customer service and consistent quality are paramount. I will let them know right away if products provided or customer service is substandard.
GK: How much preparation goes into executing a successful 9-course dinner, and what are some of the biggest challenges you face leading up to the dinner service?
Preparation is everything in order for any dinner to go smoothly. Some major challenges that we face are timing and execution. Timing for deliveries, as we want everything as fresh as possible, timing of prep, as things cannot be made too far in advance. Proper execution cannot be accomplished without teamwork. I cannot possibly prepare and plate these dinners on my own. From my Sous Chefs to our cooks to our steward team, we all must work together in order to be successful.
Lasagnette of Bleu Crab with Buerre Nantais and Pistachio
Dish by Peter Zoole | Image by Gideon Heller
GK: What else is essential during the smooth execution of a dinner like this?
Planning and teamwork.
GK: How do you ensure the guests enjoy each course and are not overwhelmed by the amount of food?
I carefully plan a progression of flavors that build on the previous course. Consideration definitely must be given to portion size for our members to enjoy their meals.
GK: Demand must be great for this unique event; how are members chosen, and how often do you offer this event each season?
We only offer our underground club event once a year. We do, however, offer Chef tasting dinners monthly during high season. For these dinners, we first take reservations and then do a “lottery” to determine our final guests.
GK: After the success of the event, what is the process of doing another?
Back to the drawing board!
GK: What were the members’ responses to this unique event?
Our members truly enjoyed this unique experience.
Orange Dulce with Gianduja Cremeux, Bitter Orange, Passion Mango Sorbet
Dish by Dana Iannelli, Executive Pastry Chef | Image by Gideon Heller
To see the full story with member comments see our current issue of Golf Kitchen Magazine.