Thursday, December 15, 2016
What You Need To Know About Chef Lenard Rubin of Scottsdale Country Club
Lenard Rubin - of Scottsdale Country Club - has an impressive resumé which shows him to be a globe-trotting, award-winning chef. His “recipes, commentary and/or food styling” have been featured in a dozen books. Today, Scottsdale, Arizona, is his home and the center of his culinary world.
At the Scottsdale Country Club, Rubin is ultimately responsible for a range of dining
experiences, from upscale meals to pool snacks. Thank goodness he’s handled everything from fine dining to casual, “even fried chicken and deli restaurants,” as part of the group he worked for in Russia, Rubin says. “And I’m well-versed in all styles of and cuisine.” He likes to create international and regional dishes and events for his members, who “truly appreciate the diversity of offerings, as most of them are also well-traveled.” Rubin enjoys giving back to his community, too; he was a Guest Chef for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Rainbow Camp for six years.
Here’s more on his career and activities:
Q: At the Ritz-Carlton, you found yourself “starstruck and with a knack for the cooking thing.”
LR: In the early ’80s the Ritz Café was the place to see and be seen, and I got to cook for
and often meet celebrities and politicians, like Robert Redford, Jackie Onassis, Ted Kennedy, Diana Ross, Peter Falk .... I started as a “runner” for the Café. That kitchen was so small, they needed someone to go up and down the stairs to the main kitchen to deliver food for each meal period. I got to help cook as well, in an open kitchen. In a short time I moved up to the main kitchen and worked my way around all the areas of the classically French brigade. I was hooked and haven’t looked back! Then Lenny’s Gumbo, because I’m told it’s better than what you get in New Orleans. I actually lived there, and while working at the InterContinental I did a function for the mayor with Paul Prudhomme, who showed me how he made his gumbo. It’s all about the roux!
Q: Your food helps recruit Scottsdale Country Club members—so what’s your approach to staffing?
LR: I don’t look for the most talented or experienced cooks, although that is a great
quality. I look for eager cooks without egos who will fit into the culture I’ve created in our kitchen—to create great dining experiences for our members and their guests, and to learn from each other how to get better at what we do every day. To keep good : Give positive reinforcement at every opportunity, get to know everyone well and show empathy at all times. Also, hold them responsible but be fair and consistent.
Q: And how are the Scottsdale Golf Club food and beverage amenities promoted?
LR: We use Twitter, Facebook, magazine advertising, email marketing, PR and our website. Being a private Scottsdale Golf Club, club we don’t really promote our banquet services. For the most part we exclusively do member or member referred events and weddings. During the slower months we’ll consider non-member requests on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Today, pleasing Scottsdale Golf Club families is a large part of your success. Great ideas?
LR: We do quite a few family events throughout the year at Scottsdale Golf Club, such as Disney Night, End of School Party, Dinner with Santa, Labor Day Luau, The Cowboy Cookout,
Father/Daughter Dance, Back to School Party, Memorial Day BBQ, Taco Tuesday, Easter Brunch, Mother’s Day Brunch, and many, many more!
Q: You recently won ACF’s “Western Region Chef of the Year.” So the DC Ranch cuisine is no slouch!
LR: I completely changed the Scottsdale Golf Club dining room menus shortly after I got here to reflect my style, but more importantly to reflect what members want to eat.
Q: Top two menu items?
LR: Mexican Corn Made Easy, because it’s delicious—and cut off the cob so it’s not.
Q: For as long as you’ve worked in Shamrock Foods territory, you’ve been a fan. Why?
LR: I’ve been a loyal Shamrock Foods customer for nearly 30 years. What initially won my business was the way that the sales representatives, management and ownership—as big as they are as a company—treat their customers. They celebrate my accomplishments and support me like a family member. Our business relationship is a partnership, not just a series of transactions.
Q: And your rep, Tom Moore?
LR: I’ve worked with Tom for many years, and he’s always there for me no matter what. If I need to source or sample a new product, he makes it happen. He helps me get products if I miss something or have an emergency, and goes out of his way on a daily basis to make sure I have what I need, when I need it. And before every season I ask Tom to go over pricing with me to see if there are any products we need to re-evaluate to get the best price-value relationship and still fall within my specs.
Q: You say you purchase “about 99%” of your products from Shamrock Foods.
LR: Yes, and they are all great products at great prices. I do buy bread from a local baker, because there is nothing like fresh!