Five Questions for Dennis Freeland, Certified Executive Chef at Raleigh Country Club
Finding five minutes to ask Chef five questions is no easy task. With nearly four decades under his belt – the last 11 years at Raleigh Country Club – he is quite content with the hustle and bustle the job demands. He says of his occupation, “I truly enjoy what I do.”
Jamie Waggoner: When did you first start cooking professionally?
Dennis Freeland: I first started cooking after high school at a restaurant called McCarthy’s in Chapel Hill. One day the omelet cook didn't come in, so I came to the rescue. I'd never made an omelet in my life, but I said "yes.” In a couple weeks I had moved to lead line cook.
JW: Take me through the different work environments you’ve experienced and how they benefited your career.
DF: I worked under some really great chefs at Washington Duke Club and Carolina Club in Chapel Hill. After, I attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1996. Being able to have real-world experience before culinary school was very beneficial. I got a lot out of my education because I understood why we were learning the things we were learning.
JW: How have you seen the industry change during your tenure?
DF: While I was in school there was a big change of thinking. Working in the kitchen used to be closely tied to traditional methods. In the 90s there was a “changing of the guard” where new ideas and methods became welcome. It was nice to be in the middle; I have respect for the old methods and appreciate the new.
JW: What is your favorite thing about working at RCC?
DF: I enjoy the member atmosphere, and seeing familiar faces. I’ve always felt that you need to be a servant at heart to thrive in this business. We have an awesome team of chefs at McConnell Golf, and the comradery is great. We love coming together for the “blood, sweat and tears” of putting on the Wyndham Championship and having a team of chefs to help each other out with special events throughout the year. and new ideas is an awesome resource.
JW: What is your favorite dish to prepare?
DF: A new one! One of the joys of the private club business is that I don't get tied into one type of cuisine. I like being able to choose and invent. I grew up a Southern boy so of course local, fresh Carolina cuisine is close to my heart.