Don’t let his youth fool you, 23-year old Head Chef, Zach Bridges, has had more than enough experience in the kitchen. Raised in Foley, Alabama, Zach started as a 16-year old dish washer in the Clubhouse at Craft Farms.
“When the Chef asked if I wanted to experience the line, I said yes. After that, I was hooked!” said Zach.
Zach’s mother noticed he had an interest in cooking early on, and bought him an Emeril Lagasse Cook Book for Kids at the age of seven. He and his dad used to watch Emeril’s show all the time, and eventually, his father got him an apron with Emeril’s famous “Bam!” written on it. Zach said he still remembers what he ordered the first time he was able to eat at one of Emeril’s restaurants in New Orleans, “Mahi Mahi with Shoestring Fries.”
Zach enrolled in culinary school in Spring 2015, which started the journey that led him to where he is today, as the Head Chef at Rock Creek Golf Club in Fairhope, Alabama. But Zach is no stranger to the Rock Creek Clubhouse. He’s been working diligently as Sous Chef for the past three years.
“When they learned I was enrolling in culinary school, they asked if I’d be interested in a position at Rock Creek, where I would have more one and one learning opportunities. I gladly accepted.”
Zach recently earned his degree from the Gulf Coast Culinary Institute at Coastal Alabama Community College, where he was awarded Culinary Student of the Year. Now, he’s stepping right out of graduation and into the role as Head Chef.
“To finish culinary school and immediately fall into this position means that all the hard work and dedication to this craft has paid off. The long hours I put in, staying late after class and paying close attention, has been worth it. The Culinary Institute at Coastal Alabama is the number one culinary school in the state, and it’s ranked in the Top 20 in the nation! When you graduate from there, they make sure you’re industry ready.”
Zach said that the greatest lesson he learned while in Culinary School was Mise En Place, Mise En Place, Mise En Place! The French phrase for “everything in its place.” He learned how to stay ahead of the game, how to challenge his limits, how to accept criticism as a challenge to improve, how to embrace it and learn from it. And lastly, he learned there’s no great chef without a great team. Zach still has two distinguished Chefs he will continue to learn from and use as a resource at Craft Farms and Peninsula Golf Club, Chef Kurtis Krum and Chef Connie Patmalnee.
“As I step into this new role, I am planning to grow and evolve as head chef. I want to bring new and different things to the table for members and guests. I plan on making anything I can possible from scratch. Yes, scratch. I didn’t go to culinary school to buy pre-made products. I want for us to be known and for Rock Creek to become the number one venue for weddings and events. I’m mostly excited for the future of Rock Creek, for the community and for the members.”
Rock Creek’s restaurant is open to the public seven days a week. Come taste test Chef Zach’s culinary skills as we continue to spice things up in the Rock Creek kitchen!