Major: Culinary Arts
Job Title: Executive Chef, Woodfield Country Club
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
When you’re in charge of every aspect of foodservice for an exclusive country club property, you have to maintain the highest standards and constantly raise the bar to delight your customers. Fortunately for Bart Messing ’90, executive chef/director of operations for Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton, FL, the CIA taught him well.
“The first and most important thing the CIA does is give you the pride of being a CIA graduate; the feeling that you went to the best culinary school in the world,” Bart says. “The CIA does the best with everything, and its vision is something I carry through to this day. It makes me maintain high standards with every decision I make, everything I do, and where I choose to work. You don’t remember everything you learned in your classes—the culture is what’s most valuable.”
Bart came to the CIA and the food world via the Navy. “I was on a nuclear submarine cooking for three years,” he says. “It was that experience that made me realize I wanted a culinary arts career.” After a friend told Bart that he planned to go to the CIA when he got off the sub, Bart read up on the college himself. “I got so excited,” he says. “I saw my whole future in front of me.”
Bart says his CIA education turned out to be everything he expected and more. He took his externship at the Stanhope Hotel in Manhattan under Consulting Chef Jean Verne and, after graduating, went to the three-star La Reserve. Bart next spent four years at the Essex House Hotel working for Chef Christian Delouvrier, rising to sous chef and then executive sous chef. “Every experience helps mold you,” he says. “But working for Christian Delouvrier probably influenced me the most.”
Relocating to Florida, Bart took the executive chef position for the Boca Country Club at the Boca Raton Resort & Club and helped triple its food business. After a few years, he was promoted to club manager and stayed another year before moving on to become executive chef for Prezzo Restaurant. In 1999, Bart landed the executive chef position at Woodfield Country Club. “It was an exciting opportunity to take a beautiful club from the bottom to where it is today,” he says. Together with his team, Bart built the culinary program—including a brand-new building, kitchens, and menus—from the ground up. From the very beginning, he’s faced the daily test of pleasing the palates of the 1,300 families who live in the Woodfield community. “The country club is a unique experience,” Bart says. “I liken it to the sub. If you serve a bad meal, you’re living with the people you served it to and you’re going to see them again. The pressure is there, but I like the challenge of having to exceed expectations all the time. It fuels my creativity.”
Bart says that at Woodfield, they do it all—casual bistro fare, upscale buffets, poolside dining, ballroom events, a restaurant menu that changes every week…the list goes on. In addition to his executive chef responsibilities, in July 2007 he took on the front of the house. “It’s important for students to know that chefs are beginning to be in charge of operations,” Bart says. “I’m part of that trend and I’m proud of it. Running a kitchen is more than just about the food, and chefs are moving up that ladder.” And Bart is convinced that the CIA’s legendary focus on standards will help students prepare for these new opportunities—just as it did for him.