Executive Chef Deb Scott distinguishes Dominion Valley CC, a property managed by the Toll Golf division of the nation’s largest builder of luxury homes (Toll Brothers), with quality food, presentations and events geared to the entire family.
Toll Golf was formed in 1998 as a division for operating golf and country-club amenities within residential communities developed by Toll Brothers, the nation’s leading builder of luxury homes. Toll Golf now operates 11 clubs in five states (California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia), including Dominion Valley Country Club (DVCC) in Haymarket, Va., less than an hour west of Washington, D.C.
As part of the 2,000-home Dominion Valley community, DVCC offers an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Design Course, as well as tennis, aquatics, a fitness center and a unique Toddler Town childcare facility.
Current Position: Executive Chef, Dominion Valley Country Club, Haymarket, Va., 2010-Present
Education: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Pittsburgh; Associates Degree in Specialized Technology, 2001
Deb Scott, Executive Chef, has been with Toll Golf for six years, working at two of the company’s other locations before coming to Dominion Valley in 2010. Her talent and energy has helped to turn DVCC’s dining venues, including Palmer’s Grille and Mulligan’s, a family dining room, into popular destinations. We appreciate Chef Scott taking the time to share her experiences and thoughts as a young, up-and-coming chef within a well-known parent organization that is now emerging as a significant player in the golf and club industries.
Q: Deb, tell us about some of the family-oriented events you and your team have developed at Dominion Valley, and how you keep young ones occupied while their parents enjoy meals at Mulligan’s.
A: Here at Dominion Valley, kids are members, too! Our community has an average of 1.5 kids per household, so as a chef I often cater my menu to families. Kids are really important to us.
The family dining room is called Mulligan’s, after Arnold Palmer’s beloved yellow Labrador retriever. Just as Mulligan never leaves Mr. Palmer’s side, our restaurant with that name is dedicated to family dining, in the hope that it can become a “home away from home” for members and their families That’s why we are dedicated to providing quality food and events for the whole family.
Two popular events at Mulligan’s where children are the main focus include an Art Show and Valentine’s Brunch Exchange.
The Kid’s Art Show involves children coming into Mulligan’s on a designated day with their parents and friends, to tell us through art what they love about the club, or to show their favorite memory of club activities. Their artwork is displayed in the clubhouse foyer, and they’re given a cupcake coupon for their next visit.
The Valentine’s Brunch Exchange is a new concept I created to generate care among the children at the club. Just as they want to show classmates they are special, kids want to tell their friends at the club they’re special, too. The children will design cards and mailboxes at the Valentine’s Brunch Exchange that will take place in Mulligan’s about two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day. The mailboxes, with the children’s names on them, will be displayed for two weeks in the clubhouse lobby, so friends and family can add cards to the mailboxes.
On a daily basis, our young members can sit in a booth and tune into their favorite show on flat-screen TVs that are embedded in decorative mirrors, to keep them occupied as they wait for their meal to arrive.
Q: Your “Guest Chef Wine and Food Festival” sounds like a really cool event and a great way to utilize all of the resources that are made available to you from other Toll Golf properties. How was this conceived, and how did you execute it at your club?
A: Toll Golf has many talented chefs, and the senior executives wanted to leverage these talents so that more of our operating clubs could glean ideas from other chefs, while also giving the clubs’ various memberships something new to taste.
To kick off the concept, the executives first picked Guest Chef John Soulia, Executive Chef of Hampton Hall Country Club in Bluffton, S.C., to collaborate with me at Dominion Valley. Then I went to South Carolina for a similar event, to showcase my skills to the Hampton Hall membership.
For these events, the executive chef of the home club picks the theme. My inspiration was the DC Street Food Festival, an outdoor festival that incorporates both food and wine. I wanted to bring Southern cooking to Virginia, so Chef Soulia and I prepared the dishes and set up food stations, outside on the patio of Mulligan’s, under open-air lighted tents that overlook our island 9th green. We brought in local wine vendors whose tastes complemented the food.
The chef collaboration, outside dining and new tastes were all a hit with members. And as chefs, we learned to try something new as well.
Q: You also have a new role, as an aide in corporate approval of menus. Give us some insight into your philosophy of menu writing, from its early development at a Toll Golf property to “gluten-free” choices and other healthy menu options.
A: Creating dishes with local and seasonally fresh components is my passion. The reliability of most raw items is what makes me choose them over others. Natural is not only good for your body, but it’s also delicious, which is what I try to demonstrate to members.
I take the well-being of my members very seriously. I do not like to mask my dishes with heavy sauces, but rather enhance the genuine flavor profiles with chutneys, sofritos, purees and glazes. I believe it’s important to recognize member favorites and serve them, while still keeping my healthy approach. The rise of food allergies is a concern that can affect a fair percentage of our membership.
I identify dishes that are gluten-free on Toll Golf menus, to help guide our guests. And when someone on the wait staff tells me that a table has questions about allergies or other concerns, I go out to discuss them in person, so the members are comforted by my education and sensitivity towards health-related matters.
Q: Chef, a good mentor is something special in our industry, where there barely seems like there’s enough time to breathe when we’re busy. What did Cris Carter of Toll Golf see in you as a young chef that helped your development? And what skills are necessary to become a good chef teacher/mentor?
A: Cris Carter started with Toll Golf at Frenchman’s Reserve Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and worked his way up to be the current General Manager at Mountain View Country Club in LaQuinta, Calif. I believe he also saw in me that same determination that he embodies. A good mentor like Cris has the ability to always encourage, yet provide constructive criticism. He has taught me that if you give it your all the first time, you won’t have to re-do it.
Q: You’re a formally educated chef, but a self-taught pastry chef. What tips can you offer those of us at properties without pastry chefs on our staff, as we struggle with the “buy versus make” issue?
A: The struggle with “buy versus make” is not only addressed by talent, but also the equipment equation. We all have sheet trays, but specialty molds, utensils and pans can be costly. My advice is to determine if staff members are interested in growing their knowledge, and if the club values homemade items, and then let those answers guide your direction in this area.
View Chef Debra Scott’s Recipes here: