The Joy of Sharing

by M. Linda Lee

 Jul 04, 2019 at 12:42 AM

A sister club exchange program allows McConnell Golf chefs to mix things up

There's wisdom in that old adage,“two heads are better than one,” especially when it comes to dining programs at McConnell Golf.“We asked our chefs to take a turn both hosting a chef and visiting a chef during the year,” says James Patterson (aka JP), the company’s corporate executive chef who oversees the culinary programs at Sedgefield Country Club and The Cardinal by Pete Dye. “It could be any type of event, a beer dinner, a wine dinner, a farm-to-table dinner, even a member-guest.”

Patrick Budniewski, executive chef at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tennessee recently visited The Country Club of Asheville for a Sunday brunch with Chef Bruce McIntosh. He brought local cheeses and Benton’s bacon with him from East Tennessee. “We used the bacon in three ways — we even made coconut, chocolate chip and bacon scones.” At the suggestion of one of the Asheville line cooks, they also made a bacon-maple glaze to drizzle on the scones. “I had no idea how the membership would respond to it,” Budniewski admits, “but we ran out of scones about halfway through brunch that day.”

From plating styles to recipes, the chefs bring ideas they get from working events at other properties back to use at their own clubs. It might relate to a menu item, like the popular frozen grapes that JP borrowed from McIntosh, who puts them on his kids’ plates at CC of Asheville, or the idea of setting up grilling stations on the golf course during a member-guest tournament that Budniewski first saw at another McConnell Golf club. It could be as simple as the way a banquet is set up. When McIntosh worked with JP at Sedgefield, he noticed that they spread their banquet items out around the room, creating stations of food rather than a straight banquet line. Similarly, he was inspired to jazz up his club’s snacks by Chef Todd Jackson who makes his own beef jerky for golfers at The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation.

Yet the chefs aren’t the only ones who find value in visiting other clubs. Members also benefit from having exposure to different styles of cuisine. “It keeps dining exciting,” Budniewski says. “When Bruce came up [to Holston Hills], we did a health and wellness dinner. He did a demo of an Asian-style gluten-free noodle bowl. It was fun for members to see, and it was something we could do here, too. Every chef has a different style to show off.”

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Healthy Summer Recipe Swaps

by M. Linda Lee

 Jul 03, 2019 at 2:51 AM

Wellness is the self-proclaimed specialty of Executive Chef Bruce McIntosh at the Country Club of Asheville, so, naturally, he was our go-to when we wanted some suggestions for making classic summer recipes healthier. A native of California — where healthy cuisine is de rigueur — McIntosh moved to Asheville in 1981 and earned his executive chef certification at Asheville-Buncombe County Technical College. After years of working in different places around the country, he moved back to Asheville five years ago to work with McConnell Golf.

At the Country Club of Asheville, Chef and his team bring a cornucopia of healthy ideas to the table. Though McIntosh’s cooking style leans toward French cuisine, he swaps the heavy butter sauces for vegetable or fruit purées, and replaces butter and flour with cornstarch and arrowroot to thicken sauces. “For example, we recently ran a grilled salmon with a pineapple and mango salsa,” he notes. “We also do a pork chop with chimichurri sauce and avocado.”

In addition to accommodating vegetarian and vegan diners, the kitchen team also offers salt-free and gluten-free items. “We do a lot of brown and basmati rice, and a lot of steamed vegetables,” says Bruce. “And we serve all our entrées with three different vegetables, which we make fresh each day.”

“For collard greens, we use chicken stock that we make [from scratch] and we smoke turkey legs and use them instead of ham hocks.” Throw in some onion and vinegar, and you have a pot of tasty collards, without all the fat of the traditional Southern version.

Portion control is another big focus. For a recent children’s event, the chef whipped up 2oz burgers on little whole wheat buns. “If kids grow up with healthy food, they might turn that way when they get older,” he says.

To cut some calories from your summer fare, Bruce suggests substituting your favorite vinaigrette for mayonnaise when making potato salad. Or consider cauliflower as a stand-in for the potatoes (see recipe below). The same goes for coleslaw, which is just as good — maybe even better — with an Asian-inspired dressing of sesame oil and rice vinegar (see recipe below). Bon appétit!


Cauliflower Salad

Chef Bruce Suggests this easy substitute for summer potato salad. Serves 4. 

1 head raw cauliflower

1/4 cup chopped baby spinach

1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon

1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Cut cauliflower into small florets, and mix it with other ingredients in a bowl. Chill several hours before serving.


Chinese Slaw

Here's the chef's healthy hack on traditional coleslaw - minus the mayo. Serves 4. 

2 lbs. Napa or Savoy cabbage, shredded

2 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup shredded daikon radish

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Let mixture sit in the bowl for about 30 minutes, then drain off any water.

In a separate small bowl, mix together rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Pour dressing over slaw mix and serve. Slaw will keep up to four days.

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In Good Taste

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Jun 21, 2018 at 3:30 PM

There’s never been a better time to have dinner at the club. Here's, one of McConnell Golf's Executive Chefs dish on everything from locally sourced ingredients to the best entrée and wine pairings.

Bruce McIntosh, Certified Executive Chef

“The halibut we’re serving tonight will fly out the door,” exclaims Bruch McIntosh, who helms the kitchen in Asheville.

“It’s gorgeous. Smoked tomato cream sauce, grilled corn succotash, lemon aioli. You’ve got three different notes on the plate there, and we try to hit that every time.”

Hitting the right notes, indeed. McIntosh and his team earn praise for quality and consistency, two of the most important factors for any restaurant, but especially so in foodie-centric Asheville.

“We try to get North Carolina fish whenever possible,” says McIntosh. “We look at what season is coming up, and that dictates the menu. We have some of the best fish in town. We’ve been buying from the same fish purveyor for more than 30 years, so they know what I want.”

The citrus notes in Juslyn’s new sauvignon blanc pair well with McIntosh’s seafood plates, especially, he notes, in the calamari and pan-seared fish entrées.

Sourcing locally extends to other ingredients, too. Local mushrooms and produce come from Franklin, NC. The creamy
grits in McIntosh’s shrimp and grits dish hail from a nearby purveyor in South Carolina. 

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Kentucky Apple Cider - Cocktail Recipe

by Kyle Perry

 Dec 19, 2017 at 4:42 PM

Created by Kyle Perry, Bar Manager, Country Club of Asheville  

"Kentucky Apple Cider is the perfect crowd-pleasing cocktail to serve at holiday get-togethers. The balanced flavors of boozy and sweet, with the festive fruit and cinnamon spice, creates a wonderful combination of seasonal cheer." 


Fresh Apple Slices

Ground Cinnamon


2 oz Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon

Apple Cider

Simple Syrup


Muddle apple slices, cider, cinnamon, honey, and simple syrup. Add ice and bourbon to shaker. Strain cider and bourbon mixture into glass. Garnish with apple slices and drizzle with honey. 


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Gather Together

by Jessie Ammons

 Dec 01, 2016 at 8:08 PM

At the Country Club of Asheville, members enjoy tastes of fine wine alongside gourmet paired bites at Chef Bruce McIntosh’s chef-led cooking demo dinners. “I call them demos instead of classes,” Chef Bruce explains. “I prepare the food in front of members, so they can see what I’m doing and learn from it, but then it’s plated for them to enjoy.”

The dinners began by happenstance and as an extension of the club community. Chef Bruce knew a group of men at the club who wanted to have a special celebratory dinner on Tuesday nights, when dinner service is closed. To make the meal memorable, he thought to utilize the club’s spacious kitchen outfitted with a large wooden block table.

Members sat around the table, and Chef Bruce made every course to order right there in the kitchen. The evening was a success, and the men raved about it enough to spread the word. Soon, another group wanted a private kitchen dinner, and then another. Chef Bruce decided to make it a regular occurrence. “But I wanted to take it a step further,” he says.

Now, demo dinners involve five or six small-plate-sized courses and shared bottles of wine. When they arrive, members receive a printout with the recipes for a few of the courses (never all of them, because “I like to keep an element of surprise for a few of the courses,” Chef Bruce says). There’s also a space to take notes on any tricks and techniques gleaned from watching the chef at work. Some members take ample notes and others sit back and enjoy — both are welcomed and encouraged. “It’s a real social event,” Chef Bruce says. Between the convivial gathering, the quality time with the chef, and the ability to recreate recipes at home, the dinners are truly something special. “We’re enjoying offering something different to our members.”

Bites by Bruce

These two easy appetizer recipes from Chef Bruce make winter entertaining a breeze.

Mushrooms Royale 
1 pound mushrooms 1 tablespoon olive oil 8 shallots, julienned
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1⁄4 cup white wine
1⁄2 cup espagnole sauce (available at grocery stores) salt and pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley 1 tablespoon butter toast points, for serving

Directions: Heat sauté pan and add olive oil. Add mushrooms and shallots, then sauté. After one minute, add garlic, salt, and pepper. Add white wine and reduce. Finish by adding brown sauce (espag- nole), parsley, and butter. Serve over toast points. Serves 8

Spinach-Artichoke Dip 
1 15-ounce can artichokes
8 ounces spinach, chopped
16 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
tortilla chips and pita bread, for serving shredded cheese of choice, for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Puree artichokes and cream cheese. Fold in seasonings and spinach and spread into serving dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups

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