Having studied cooking and worked in restaurants in the south of France before owning his own restaurants throughout Southern California, chef Philip Carter has a unique eye for keeping a wide variety of customers happy with a range of dishes. Here, he talks to bask about the importance of humility and his vision for reinventing the stereotypical country club menu.
What drew you to cooking at Aliso Viejo Country Club after stints in many other Southern California restaurants, including your own?
I had always wanted to work in a country club, and it was a random conversation with another parent at my daughter’s school that got me the interview here at Aliso Viejo Country Club. While owning my own restaurants was a wonderful experience, the very long hours and being away from family was not worth it to me. I always had a goal of owning my own restaurants and did it; I learned a lot in that process, which I know makes me a better chef and businessman today.
How does its Southern California location affect the menu at Aliso Viejo Country Club?
At this club, I am able to show my expertise in the culinary field. The diverse membership and the private events give me the opportunity to prepare a wide variety of cuisines. We will have a high-end wine dinner on a Friday night with foie gras, pesto-crusted Alaskan halibut, and an Indian wedding on Saturday with all the food prepared here in our kitchen.
How is your cooking style influenced by your time studying and working in the south of France?
What I learned in France in the ‘90s has influenced pretty much everything that I do in this industry. Hard work and long hours are normal in the one-, two-, and three-star Michelin restaurants in France. The chefs I’ve worked for taught me to love my food; it takes quality ingredients, time, and patience to create incredible dishes.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in your cooking career?
To be humble. I am not the greatest chef in the world and there is always someone who can teach me something new every day.
What experience do you want diners to have at Aliso Viejo Country Club?
I would love our members here at Aliso to leave every day with a smile on their face because of their experience in our dining room.
What ingredient can you not live without?
What is your favorite dish to cook when you’re off-duty?
Slow oven-roasted baby-back ribs with a seven spice barbecue sauce.
What do you look for when going out to eat?
Customer service and good food. I can’t stand horrible customer service; I worry about the other people eating in the restaurant who are getting the same bad service and it ruins what might have been a great meal for me.
What do you think is the most exciting new culinary trend?
It’s not new, but coming back is fried chicken. Chefs are finding new ways to spice it up, and with all the different flours, such as banana flour, brown rice flour, almond flour and many other varieties, it’s giving chefs the opportunity to expand on a classic dish.
What do you have planned for your future with Aliso Viejo Country Club?
We are going to reinvent ourselves here at the club. The typical country club is burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and a special prime rib night. We here at Aliso Viejo Country Club are offering pasta night with chefs cooking right in front of you; gastropub night with a wide variety of new and exciting items such as slow roasted pulled pork sandwiches, chicken pot pie, and prime New York steak salad; and we offer a Friday night all-you-can-eat buffet, which features a carving station with items such as grilled lamb chops, whole cedar plank salmon, prime rib and pork loin stuffed with brie, spinach, and cranberries.
ALISO VIEJO COUNTRY CLUB 33 Santa Barbara Dr., Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 ~ 949.598.9200| ClubCorp.com