182. Barrington EATS with Biltmore Chef Mike Battaglia
If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I often refer to cooking as a sport. I recently met Mike Battaglia, the Executive Chef at Biltmore Golf, Beach & Tennis Club in North Barrington, and I’m telling you he is a player. Major Leagues. The kind who is always in the game, covering the whole field and going above and beyond average play. He changes up his strategy (menus), stays on top of changes in the industry (ingredients) and covers all the bases (making the most sense with his food).
Getting a chance to chat with a chef who plays this well is always a treat and inspiration. Chef Mike’s passion for his food is evident. And, to him, flavor is so important… as it should be for any great chef. So, Mike took us on a tour of his kitchen home base, showing us where he creates the meals for the Biltmore Country Club dining rooms that host weekly dinner menus and scheduled and private events…
That day he was preparing for a funeral reception for 200 and working on a golf luncheon for 120 ladies, in addition to the daily service.
Needless to say, there was a lot on his plate. But that made it fun to watch Chef Mike as he lovingly showed us the fresh vegetables going into his salsa, including the beautiful bounty of heirloom tomatoes he was working with.
We learned that Mike and his dedicated staff cook with a flavorful assortment of fresh herbs grown in a garden along the greens on Biltmore’s golf course. You can’t get more locally grown that that!
When we asked Mike what he likes best about his job he said, without hesitation, “It is the people. I have been working here for 12 years and fed these families as their kids grew up. Now I get to hear about their college pursuits and lives as adults and I cherish that relationship.”
Chef Mike says he loves getting to see everyone and stop and chat as he travels between the various food service areas that the club offers. From pizza and snacks in the locker rooms and game room, to the Halfway House on the golf course, the beach club on Honey Lake and more formal dining rooms with vista views, there is a lot of ground to cover and people to see. And Mike feeds them all.
Selections at the Biltmore Beach Club menu live up to Chef Mike’s major league status. Sure you can get a pizza or fries at this poolside and beach side service counter, but you can also enjoy a wide selection of things that aren’t so everyday, like Wild Mushroom Empanadas or their very popular Fish Tacos.
Their salads are fresh and delicious and we particularly loved the Chicken Panini with Avocado, sundried tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella and basil.
Dining room options range from the traditional grilled chicken salads and hamburgers to delicacies such as Seared Tuna with Wasabi Aioli, Carrot Ice Cream and Scallops in Nasturshum Broth with Preserved Grapefruit.
As for private events hosted in the Biltmore dining rooms, I asked Chef Mike what is a typical menu. “What do you want?” was his reply. Boy would it be fun to put that creativity to the test, I thought. With his talent, passion for food and dedication to his customers, I have a feeling everyone who eats at Biltmore Country Club, from the pool to weddings, gets just what they want.
Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.
Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our new, local and regular food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!
If you’d like to us to feature your favorite chef or restaurant or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE.