Executive Chef Carolyn Flinn draws on her extensive experience at high-profile, high-volume operations to bring quality and efficiency to Deal Country Club.
In the 1890s, a wealthy shipping magnate and railroad financier by the name of George Washington Young discovered the Jersey Shore and built an estate near the coastline in Monmouth County, just south of New York City. In 1900, Young added a 6,500-yard golf course to his property, which was thought to be one of the longest in America at the time. So it was that Deal Golf Club, located on Golf Lane in the town of Deal, N.J., was established.
The club had many prominent members in its early days, including Robert Todd Lincoln (son of Abraham Lincoln), Will Durant (founder of General Motors) and two U.S. Presidents, William McKinley and Benjamin Harrison. As many other activities for members were introduced, the club changed its name to Deal Country Club in the 1940s.
Current Position: Executive Chef, Deal Country Club, Deal, N.J. (2007-Present)
Education and Apprenticeships:
One amenity that Deal is now popularly known for is great dining. In 2007, Deal CC brought Carolyn Flinn, a well-known chef in the New York metropolitan areas, to run the club’s kitchen, and the amount of dinners served at the property has since climbed steadily every year since her arrival.
Before things began to heat up for another season at the Jersey Shore, Chef Flinn was kind enough to share some of her thoughts on keys to success in today’s club dining environments.
Q: Chef, you offer high-impact specials each night that really help even out the flow at your club during peak hours and your peak season. Tell us about the perceived-value items you offer that make your busiest nights at the club run smoother.
A: Our menu is versatile in both choice selections and price point. The offerings include vegetarian and gluten-free menu items a la carte. The menu is divided evenly between the various stations, sauté, grill, entremetier and garde manger, to ensure a smooth a la carte service.
Q: Along the same lines, you have experience in very busy public restaurants, where menu writing was essential to whether you sank or swam. One example was lunch at the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, where daily lunch and dinner covers could both exceed 200. What tips can you offer chefs and F&B managers to become more streamlined and efficient?
A: In busy venues, the kitchen staff generally prepares mise en place a full day in advance, and having the appropriate prep is imperative. In addition, the staff both front and back must be well-versed on menu descriptions, preparations and presentations. Daily, informative Q&A at pre-meal meetings can set the tone for a successful meal service.
Q: You incorporate change constantly in the menu design process, whether it’s through your use of day-boat seafood from up the street, or brainstorming with sous chefs. How has this aggressive approach improved your cover counts at Deal?
A: Our members enjoy their club and spend a fair amount of time here. Thankfully we enjoy the frequency of our member dining. Naturally, variety is what drives the menu design, using seasonal ingredients, available sustainable market seafood and produce. I rely on my purveyors who understand our consistent standards and bring top quality and innovative products to our back door.
Q: Carolyn, with the wealth of experience that you have in teaching, high-end catering and restaurants, what’s your take on the private club member and their needs?
A: Honestly, one aspect of my job as a club chef that I really enjoy is the wide scope of different culinary activity throughout the year. It has been helpful in recruiting and my staff is always working on different events, which keeps everything new and interesting.
Q: At your club, you are the banquet chef as well as the head chef. Beyond doing this for budgetary purposes, what made you go with that strategy, as opposed to hiring a catering chef and focusing all of your energies on a la carte?
A: There is advantage to cross-utilizing kitchen staff and growing a talented per diem staff, which has worked well for us. Directing staff with a variety of different tasks on any given day has created a positive team-building experience for everyone.
View Chef Flinn’s Recipes for: