Gary Klinefelter is an executive chef in Delray Beach, Florida. You want to work in the sunshine state? He tells you all sorts of useful tips.


Today you work as Executive Chef in Delray Beach, Florida , with lots of previous Executive Chef before. Where does your passion for cooking comes from?

My passion for cooking comes from the love of creating memories and experiences for people. Cooking is all about creating memorable experiences; Family Gatherings, Anniversaries, birthdays, weddings.  These are all opportunities where cooking with passion creates these lasting memories.  People will always remember a great meal and when it is attached to a special event, it is even more memorable.


How did your chef career started/ what drove you to become a chef?

I stated in the restaurant business at the age of 13 as a dishwasher.  I did not like that job very much and the kitchen manager who was a 20 something looked at me like a little brother and looked out for me.  I told him that I did not like washing dishes and that I was fascinated watching him cook.  I told him that I wanted to learn to cook because the rush of the smoke and flames and high pace environment intrigued me.  He agreed to teach and I agreed to learn.  I could not learn enough fast enough about the restaurant business.  I have been in love with the business for 29 years now.  I promised myself that I would do this until it was no longer fun; thankfully I have never had to have that conversation with myself.


Which cooking school did you visit at the beginning of your chef career?

In the beginning of my career, I visited several schools in search of where I wanted to receive my education:  Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales and the American Culinary Federation Chef’s Apprenticeship Program.  I chose the ACF apprenticeship program as I felt it gave me the opportunity to learn hands on what I needed to be successful in this business.  I would later go on to do my continuing education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York.


With over 25 years of experience in all aspects of the hospitality industry, you developed a complete understanding of high-volume resorts. What are the new trends with in such high-volume resource in the US?

There are always going to be trends and fads in this business, but one that I feel is here to stay is eating fresh, local and seasonally. I always purchase fresh food that is not processed or adultered.  I purchase fish from local dayboat captains who practice responsibly fished aquaculture practices.  This is extremely important and a cause which is very close to my heart.  As far as what is hot right now, ethnic foods are giant.  With the invention of all of the cooking shows, today’s diners are much more food savy than they have ever been.  They are much more willing to try new things and ethnic food are at the top of the list of what people are trying now and are hot.



You are also well experienced within the Country Club business, with their multiple outlet venues. How did the culinary offer changed in this segment the last years?

This segment changed drastically in my establishment. We went through a 14 million dollar renovation last year to our clubhouse and our members utilize the facility more than ever.  We created an upscale casual lounge area that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is a very popular attraction.  We also have two new dining rooms and a beautiful outdoor veranda that is a very popular choice for member dining.


What will be some innovative culinary concepts in the future?

As far as innovative culinary concepts in the future, as far as clubs are concerned, I am not certain that they will be looking to re-invent the wheel; Clubs are steeped in rich history and traditions that do not change too drastically, but what I can say is that our members are looking to have more simplistic dining experiences with high quality fresh / local and ethnic foods in a more casual environment (no jacket and ties which most clubs require).



What are some of your unique regionally inspired cooking techniques?

When I describe regionally inspired cooking techniques, I am more referring to regionally inspired products that are fresh and local which we allow the quality product to be the star with a minimalist approach.  So often you see all of these fancy artistic looking foods on Instagram with smears of sauce and dots everywhere and it is a bit confusing to eat.  We like to use the absolute best products and cook them with time tested true cooking methods which allow the product to be the star and be non -pretensious.


As Executive Chef at Gulf Stream Bath and Tennis Club in Delray Beach, Florida today; what do you offer/ what’s is your culinary set up?

What I bring to the table is 29 years of experience in all aspects of every type of environment; I have worked in country clubs and country inns to ski resorts, beachside resorts and spas to privately owned restaurants, private families, private jets and private yachts.  What has remained the same is my approach – I have developed the ability to connect with, motivate and train large multi-cultural workforces to create incredible dining experiences within the properties I run.  I believe in the old saying  “that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I treat all of my ambassadors with the same level of care and respect as I would expect.  I run a teaching kitchen where I have developed a “food culture” where we constantly are learning and growing and my passion for food  is unleasehed.  This excitement is contagious and id felt throughout my kitchens.



You are a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation and the World Certified Executive Chef through WACS. How are both certifications are different?

As a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation, my credentials are recognized on a National level .  as a World Certified Executie Chef through the World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS), my credentials are recognized on a Global level.


As fellow of the American Academy of Chefs how are you in contact/ involved with the American Academy of Chefs?

As far as the American Academy of Chefs The honor society of ACF, the American Academy of Chefs (AAC) represents the highest standards of professionalism in the organization, society and industry. The Academy’s primary mission is to promote the education of all culinarians by mentoring culinarians, awarding scholarships to students seeking a future in the culinary industry, and by providing grants to professional working chefs looking to further their career.  I embody this mission eeryday in all that I do.  I also attend the regional meetings and dinners where the camaraderie of this is shared amongst all Academy Fellows.


Florida’s traditional kitchen, how would you describe it best? 

Floribbean: Floribbean cuisine is found in varying forms in Florida restaurants and in the homes of many Floridians throughout the state. The essence of what makes a particular dish “Floribbean” is similar to that of certain other aspects of variable Floridian culture: it is influenced by visitors and immigrants from all over the world, but especially from the Caribbean (with notable influence from Haiti, the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago), Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Floribbean cuisine also borrows features of Latin American cuisine from such countries as Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, as well as the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico, adding more influences to the mix


Modern Florida Cuisine today; how would you describe it best?

Fresh, local, clean, bright flavors with focus on quality of ingredients over quantity.


What are some of the latest trends at Florida’s food/ chef scene?

Reducing food waste, eating globally, transparency, Milk alternatives now include oat, soy and numerous nut milk blends, sugar substitutes such as pure honey, maple or date syrups, sorghum and stevia.  Aquafaba, the liquid found in canned chick peas and other canned beans, is a recent discovery for people who need to eat gluten-free but want a good egg white replacement.  Real Breads and ancient grains, sparkling beverages.



If you would have the time to come up with a culinary book; what would it be about?

I am in the process now of writing my first book which will be entitled “Mastering the Art of Dry Aged Meats and the Steakhouse Menu”.


Thank you for your time Gary.


How did you start your career as a chef?
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