As the executive chef at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., 2002 M.B.A. graduate Brian Sode has a bigger challenge than most culinarians: “In a private club setting we’re constantly challenged to provide a world of styles and ingredients in our cooking,” he says. “Menus have to be changed constantly because our members frequent the club two, three and four times a week.”
These menus might include braised short ribs with pappardelle and toasted mustard seeds, or a pan-seared chicken breast with andouille sausage and sweet potato flan. It’s a lot of work—more than chefs at traditional restaurants might go through. But it’s worth it. In March, he received the American Culinary Federation’s Southeastern Region’s Chef Professionalism Award for exhibiting the highest standards of professionalism through certification, training, competitions and community involvement. He was honored only a few months later during the association’s national convention, where 500 attendees watched a video of his accomplishments.
Although his cooking style leans more toward Contemporary American, Sode’s methods are grounded in French Classical. “I trained with European chefs who passed this style down more than 30 years ago and it still is the foundation for all my cooking,” he says.
An executive chef since 1981, Sode tries to keep current with trends in four- and five-star restaurants and incorporate the recipes and concepts into the club. He also mentors young chefs, shares his cooking skills at a number of charitable events and oversees the club’s culinary program with food and beverage revenues of $1.1 million. And with those kinds of figures, it helps to have a chef with an M.B.A.