Just another night at Edgewood Country Club.
The unofficial plate count easily topped 1,000. But that’s what happens when you host 220 guests through appetizers, four main courses, dessert and corresponding wines. But such was the flow of the first annual “Golf Kitchen” magazine awards dinner on Oct. 4 at Edgewood, in the northern New Jersey town of River Vale.
The event was co-sponsored by Golf Channel with on-air personality Chantel McCabe serving as host and lead interviewer. Golf Kitchen founding editor and publisher Diana DeLucia, who coordinated the event, also managed to tie in a fundraising auction to benefit St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, N.J.
The hospital’s chairman is businessman Bruce Schonbraun, whose family partnered with Eric Witmondt’s family in buying Edgewood CC. The club’s facilities have been subsequently upgraded, including expanded banquet facilities in the 40,000 square foot clubhouse so that Edgewood could easily host a major event like the Golf Kitchen awards dinner.
Edgewood, a private membership club, occupies 165 acres in suburban Bergen County, 8 miles southwest of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The club's 27 holes incorporates woodland, ponds, streams and open meadow, along with a practice range and short-game area.
The Golf Kitchen awards dinner honored leading chefs from some of the country’s elite clubs. Chef Anthony Villanueva, a four-year veteran of Edgewood CC, showcased a rose poached halibut with a vegetable that is new to the American palette, sweet stem caulilini (pictured above). It made for a plate that Villanueva said was “as beautiful as it is tasteful.”
That dish was followed up by an offering from Chef Anthony Giacoponello, who had trained at restaurants in Manhattan before setting up shop at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. in 2009. His dish, called fresh garganelli a la creole, is essentially prosciutto, sausage and mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce.
When McCabe asked Giacoponello about the secret to fine dining in a golf club atmosphere, he praised the virtue of basic ingredients and said that “sometimes, simple is the hardest thing to do.”
Just back from @GolfKitchen gala awards dinner at @EdgewoodCountry NJ, co-sponsored by @GolfChannel - here club owners Eric Witmondt & Bruce Schonbraun w/ host @ChantelMcCabeGC & event founder @DianaDeLuciaGK. Amazing 4-course celebration of golf club cuisine. pic.twitter.com/nPk0cEQE11— Bradley S. Klein (@BradleySKlein) October 6, 2018
Show segment with @GolfChannel's @ChantelMcCabeGC after the inaugural @GolfKitchen Culinary Excellence Awards and Fine Dining Soirée hosted by @EdgewoodCountry. McCabe joined us in the clubhouse to chat about the evening, and her move to @GolfChannel https://t.co/m8NlniU171— Danielle Tucker (@TheGolfClub) October 8, 2018
Full list of Golf Kitchen Culinary Excellence award winners
GOLF KITCHEN CULINARY EXCELLENCE AWARDS FOR A PRIVATE GOLF CLUB, COUNTRY CLUB OR RESORT, 2018
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida, USA – Executive Chef Robert Lee
If anyone understands the palette of Arnold Palmer himself, it is Robert Lee. Robert was hired by Mr. Palmer over 27 years ago and together they collaborated over many years to establish a unique menu focused on one of the Golf Industries legends. Lee’s tireless work, love and respect for Mr. Palmer makes him a valuable part of the industries culinary history.
Cassique at Kiawah Island Club, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA – Executive Chef Doug Blair
Executive Chef Doug Blair and his team at Cassique deliver a unique dining menu featuring selections sourced from local farmers and fisheries, creating a unique, intimate farm to table experience.
After 6 years in some of Seattle’s finest restaurants and following a stint in New York training under ChefTom Colicchio, Chef Doug took the helm as the Kiawah Island Club’s Executive Chef in 2000. Doug and his team have developed a culinary prowess to create outstanding menus to rival any of the great chefs.
Kohanaiki, Kona, Hawaii, USA – Executive Chef Patrick Heymann
Kohanaiki andPatrick Heymann have developed a unique blend of island and beach cuisine that is also indulgently elegant, and the members and guests love it. I have rarely seen a membership so involved in the dining scene then at Kohanaiki. Patrick’s ability to communicate on a culinary level with the members and guests at Kohanaiki is quite remarkable.
Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico – Executive Chef Pato Persico
Carl Emberson, COO at Punta Mita had recognized the importance of the culinary side of golf many years ago and at Punta Mita, he has developed his culinary team, led by Executive Chef Pato Persico, that is not only very talented but openly welcome collaboration with culinary teams from the industry globally.
Punta Mita has now become the home of Golf Kitchen Punta Mita, a four-day culinary extravaganza that takes place each April and features leading culinary teams from some the world’s finest Golf, Country Clubs, and Resorts golfing and cooking for those fortunate to attend.
Sebonack Golf Club – Southampton, New York, USA – Executive Chef, Anthony Giacoponello
Sebonack Golf Club has been an instrumental part of the Golf Kitchen journey, supporting the culinary vision since 2010, when the industry was lagging.
Giacoponello is one of the finest chefs in the business. His global training reads like the who’s who of leading chefs of the world. His ability to consistently produce high-quality cuisine at all levels of the club’s menu and to remain calm under all conditions is notable.
GOLF KITCHEN VISIONARY LEADERS IN CLUB MANAGEMENT
Troy Albert, Certified Club Manager and General Manager– Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, New York, USA
Troy Albert is a General Manager that has a genuine love of people and it immediately shows when you enter the gates at Sebonack Golf Club. Albert, with the guidance of the club’s owner Mr. MichaelPascucci, has developed a unique management style that makes not only the members and guests feel appreciated, but also the staff, who are a part of the family.
Albert, who had previously worked with Executive Chef Anthony Giacoponello, had the culinary knowledge and expertise to recruit Giacoponello to take charge of this unique and prestigious kitchen which will continue to bring culinary innovation to the members, guests and the industry for many years to come.
Frank H. Benzakour, Certified Club Manager, CCE and General Manager
Frank Benzakouris a highly motivated and strategic General Manager. Benzakour’s style is quite individual and he possesses the ability to see through the fog. He is one of the visionary leaders who “can foresee where the puck is going to be rather than where it has been.”
Frank’s passion for the industry has lead him on a professional journey to earn his Master Club Manager Certification which will be presented at the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) World Conference in February of 2019.
Colin A. Burns, Certified Club Manager and General Manager – Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York, USA.
Colin Burns, longtime General Manager at Winged Foot Golf Club possesses a management style that is purely and genuinely focused on the members and guests at all times. Burns was one of the first in the industry to improve the culinary landscape in the Private Golf Club industry. Over nine years ago he appointed renowned Executive ChefRhy Waddingtonwho has successfully achieved and surpassed this goal. With a new kitchen, a renovated clubhouse and another US Open in 2020, I am sure there is even more innovation Colin has yet to unveil.
Jay DiPietro, Chief Operating Officer (recently retired) and Consultant – Boca West Country Club, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
There are not too many General Managers that have created the culinary legacy thatJay DiPietrohas at Boca West Country Club. His flamboyant management style and extraordinary vision has shaped the many culinary eating spaces at this famed residential country club.
The industry thanks Mr. DiPietro for over 30 years of outstanding service and wish him a long and entertaining retirement.
GOLF KITCHEN EDGEWOOD PARTICIPATING EXECUTIVE CHEF AWARDS, 2018
Keith Armstrong, Executive Chef at Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York, USA
Zach Bell, Executive Chefat Addison Reserve Country Club, Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Anthony Giacoponello, Executive Chef, Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, New York, USA
Dana Iannelli, Pastry Chef at Addison Reserve Country club, Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Michael Ruggiero,Executive Chef at GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford, New York, USA
Tony Villanueva, Host Chef and Executive Chef at Edgewood Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey, USA