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Justin Vann is the executive chef of Calvert’s, a restaurant located near the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
The restaurant is sold out during Masters week with pro golfers, NFL stars, and more.
Here’s what Vann says it’s like working during the golf tournament, as writer Kaila Yu said.
This narrated essay is based on a conversation with Justin Vann, a 37-year-old executive chef and manager in Augusta, Georgia, about working during Masters Week. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My grandparents have brought me to Calvert since I was a kid, and it was the first place I had in mind when I decided to get into the restaurant business. I was the manager here for seven years and became the executive chef last year. My family and my grandparents always come with my five and a half year old son and create new memories.
Many iconic golfers have been coming to the restaurant for years as we are literally across from the Augusta National Golf Club. Champion golfer Frank Urban “Fuzzy” Zoeller comes to every Calvert Masters on Sunday. He talks to everyone – he’s a straight shooter and farm boy from Indiana. The last time he came here, he gave my son his green sunglasses, right on his head.
Although I love working in the restaurant during the Master, it can be difficult. We work 14 days in a row before the event, then everyone works 12-14 hours a day. The weather is also a factor – yesterday we had a huge thunderstorm so everyone was kicked off the course. It ruined their day, but we tried to help save the night and serve everyone a good meal.
People come back year after year for our food and atmosphere
All of our meats, from filet mignon to tomahawks, are cut by hand. Customers especially love our whole Maine lobster served at Savannah, where the lobster meat is diced and stuffed into the tail shell and baked with shrimp, scallops and cream cheese sauce. After a long day on the course, they also appreciate our wine list — we offer over 300 labels and over 1,200 bottles of wine.
We only start taking reservations for the Masters at the beginning of the year. Many large groups return each year and book several nights, and we are fully booked Sunday to Sunday in March. We can only accommodate 100-110 guests at a time and only half that when we had to follow pandemic guidelines, but we still had a lot of people for the previous two Masters during COVID-19.
There are always bribes offered by people trying to get a reservation, but I just say, “Do you want to stay here and eat your food from a take-out box?” If there’s not a single chair in the restaurant that you can sit in, it doesn’t matter how much money you try to give me.
Another tactic often used is to name a celebrity and then the star never shows up when the group checks in for their table. But for those lucky enough to land a booking during the Masters, it’s like being a kid again – you never know who you’ll see.
For many years living legend Arnold Palmer came every Monday
He would sit at one of our booths next to the bar and talk with the fans all night long – that was his thing. Everyone tried to cram in on Monday nights because they knew he would be there at every Masters. We also have NFL players and celebrities arriving this week, although I can’t give their names.
This year, I can’t wait to see all of our regulars and new faces again. They are so excited to attend the tournament, walk into our restaurant around the corner, enjoy the food and atmosphere, and maybe hang out with an icon or two.
Read the original article on Business Insider
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