Gordon Maybury has traveled the world as a chef, seeking to find a challenge large enough for his liking. A Dublin native, Maybury has worked at the tony Peninsula Hotel in New York and the Loews in South Beach and is now at the helm of the mega PGA Resort complex. Maybury chatted with Clean Plate Charlie about his passion and how he constantly seeks out more challenges.
Clean Plate Charlie: First of all, I love your accent.
Chef Gordon Maybury: I'm from Ireland, originally from Dublin. I went to London in '91 and Grand Cayman in '92. In '98, I moved to New York and lived and worked there for nine years. I moved to Miami in 2007 to work at the Loews at 16th and Collins.
In New York, I worked at the Peninsula hotel and the Grand Hyatt. In Grand Cayman, I was at the Hyatt.
What brought you to PGA Resort?
Well, I was at the Loews from March of 2007. It's not run by a huge corporation; it's run by the Tisch family. We pretty much did what we wanted to do. Over time as the economy changed, the property became more corporate and streamlined. It wasn't as much fun anymore.
PGA is an independent. We have our own management company, so between myself, the food and beverage director, and the general manager, we can do pretty much what we want to do. We've got 40,000 square feet of space at PGA. We have the hotel, catering, the golf club, and residences, so there's always a challenge. I've never worked at a club before. I want to work more and do more every year.
How did you get into cooking?
I started in Ireland in 1986 washing dishes. In 1987, I started cooking. It's a hobby and a passion. This is what I do.
What aspect of your responsibilities at PGA do you enjoy the most?
At Ironwood Grill, there's a chance to do good local food. It's work, but it's not work. People think we're mad. It's a 75-hour workweek, but in my world, that's normal.
You'd better love what you do if you're there 75 hours a week.
That's the thing. That's what I tell young people. If you don't love this business, it's the worst thing in the world. You're going to have a wife or a girlfriend or a husband at home asking why they never see you on Saturdays, on holidays, or ever.
So do you have a significant other?
I have a girlfriend. I met her at Lowes. She works now in Fort Lauderdale, and a lot of times she works weekends. Look, it's all about finding quality time rather than quantity time. If you go out and spend quality time together one day a week, if you have a great picnic at the beach or plan a wonderful day, then you learn to really look forward to and enjoy the time together. If you spend the day off arguing, then it's not worth it.
Did you have formal training, or did you learn on the job?
I started working at restaurants, and the chef where I worked got me into an apprentice program, and I went to school one day a week. In school, we would do menu cost, butchery, stocks and sauces, fish, and I did that for three years, and I took exams, but I think that working in a restaurant is key.
I think there's some culinary schools that are wonderful. There's no question the CIA in New York and California give you a great education, but it's a hands-on business, so if you work for a year or two or three and go to school as well as work, you've got the upper hand.
For the first four or five years, you have to work, work, work. Work at two jobs and learn to make stocks and soups correctly. Don't take a job for the money. The minute you take a job for the money, you're always taking a job for the money. Yeah, you're making $50,000 two years out of school, but you've got to learn from a good person. The first years are critical.
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Look for part two of our interview with Chef Maybury, coming soon.