Local chef Tim Carrigan recently took over the kitchen at the Orchard Hills Country Club in Buchanan. Carrigan is also the executive chef at the cafe at Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles.

Familiar face in new kitchen

Published 3:19pm Sunday, February 6, 2011

Masters of the culinary arts are often equipped with the skills to satisfy an array of palettes.

For local chef Tim Carrigan, those skills are not limited to a singular menu.

Carrigan, who has been working as a chef for more than 20 years, heads up the kitchen at the Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve cafe in Niles and he also teaches a class in the culinary arts at Buchanan High School.

And, recently, Carrigan added the Orchard Hills Country Club to the list of kitchens he oversees.

“We’ll take over all the food service part, all the parties,” Carrigan said of the new project he has undertaken with his culinary team.

“We have a full staff there that’s been in place,” Carrigan said. “We’ve pretty much retained all of the wait staff they already had because they were really good and five or six staff in the kitchen.”

Carrigan doesn’t plan on scaling back at Fernwood but will simply split his time between the two.

“I’ve already hired a full staff and I’ll be floating back and forth a lot,” he said.

At Fernwood, Carrigan filled the cafe’s menu with items that combine fresh flavors like the salmon salad asparagus wrap and a smoked turkey panini with peach-blueberry relish.

Crafting a menu, Carrigan said, really comes down to understanding two main ingredients: people and place.

Turnover in the kitchen at Orchard Hills, has led to a menu that, “just hasn’t been very consistent,” he said. “I think that’s what we want to bring (to the club), is just consistent, good food service.”

The chef has experience serving club diners, having worked for Knollwood in South Bend for seven years and he said he doesn’t think “a lot of people have a realistic idea of what a country club is like. (Diners) don’t want food they can’t recognize. I think they want good service and consistent food and I think that’s an easy thing to achieve … It’s really a team effort … Most of it is just surrounding yourself with people who are really like-minded.”

Carrigan, who is currently finalizing the menu, said he and the staff plan to “simplify it a bit.”

“We’re going to keep the menu a little smaller than it has been,” he said.

Menu items will change regularly, he said and he will “make things a little bit lighter and a lot more fresh.”

In preparation, Carrigan said he and the staff are planning to hold a couple of hors d’oeuvre nights to meet members and give them a chance to look over the what he has in mind when it comes to food items and he’s looking forward to “keeping an open ear” to what diners are looking for in a club menu.

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