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Idea Fair

Culinary Chap Belt Competition

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

The weekly competition has helped to build and refine the talents of our culinary team, introduced hundreds of vibrant, creative and seasonal dishes for our members, rewarded our team members for their ability, and helped to support twenty-five local farms who have been hard-hit during the economic downturn.

How was this idea implemented, and what have been the club members' reactions?

Our club’s culinary team has a deep pedigree of competition, both nationally and internationally. The stewards of our culinary program have included four members of the United States Culinary Olympic Team, two members of the Junior US Culinary Olympic Team, and one runner up for “Best Chef in Britain”. We support and encourage participation in competition because we know that it brings out the best in our chefs by encouraging creativity, self-examination, and we know that competition furthers our craft.

Our in-house competition is held on a weekly basis, with four cooks and/or chefs submitting dishes for tasting, anonymously. Two competitors submit appetizers, and two submit entrees, and all must utilize local ingredients from twenty-five different farms, sourced by Freshlist Charlotte. The dishes are then photographed, tasted and critiqued by four judges who anonymously write feedback on each dish. Based on the scoresheets, a winner is declared, and the dishes are then reworked based on the feedback of the judges. The reworked dishes are then photographed for social media and are then offered to our members that evening as featured items.

The winners not only hold the belt for a week and display it proudly in one of our five kitchens, they also get shouts on social media and receive a gift card for use with Freshlist Charlotte.

We have had many talented cooks and chefs to proudly take up the belt, but ultimately, the winners of the competition are our membership. The dishes created during the competition are rolled out each week as featured items, and those features which sell the most find a place on our regular, seasonal menus in the dining rooms. Our members look forward to engaging with the weekly features Instagram post, and love getting to see the culinary team members that create these dishes.

About the author

Erin Schlegel

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