A Chef’s Strength And Spirit – Chef Leon Teow Of The Club At Arrowcreek
By Joëlle Creamer
Chef Leon Teow, Certified Executive Chef®, oversees culinary operations at The Club at ArrowCreek, leading a team of 30 people to execute the club’s recently reimagined dining program, including five indoor and outdoor dining outlets and 40,000-square-foot event venue. Located in the center of a gated residential community of 1,100 homes in Reno, Nevada, The Club at ArrowCreek completed a clubhouse renovation earlier this year that doubled its non-golf offerings, and upgraded all existing amenities, providing a recreation lifestyle and dining mecca set against an undeniably stunning backdrop. According to Chef Teow, patience and determination pay off in the culinary profession, as he illuminates the true essence of leadership.
TROON If you could use only one word to describe your culinary approach, what would it be?
TEOW Evolving. The cow, the pig, and the chicken will not change. As a chef, we need to constantly evolve and change how we prepare and serve our food, especially as preferences and diets change. I like to educate people as I evolve, too — to help them eat healthier and more simply.
What characteristics do you look for when hiring someone to join your team?
It’s very important to me to hire people who are open-minded, willing to learn, and have a positive attitude. It’s important that the chemistry is right, and that I see that the person is serious about their career, industrious, and willing to contribute.
How do you motivate and inspire your team, especially in a challenging labor market where smaller teams are doing more?
I come to work to be with my friends. Together, we create excellence. I will lead and guide, and I also want everyone to feel comfortable and happy. Leading by example is important for
me — I’m 100 percent in the culinary operation with my team; I work in every position. Washing dishes is fun. It’s the foundation of cooking — if you can cook but don’t know how to wash dishes, you’re useless.
What’s one ingredient you can’t live without?
There are many ingredients I can’t live without. But in my kitchen, trust is my main ingredient. If you don’t have mutual trust, it’s hard to build a team and create a positive work environment. Lack of trust prolongs and blocks growth. I do love garlic and fresh herbs, but the ones I use change day to day.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your career thus far?
Watching people grow. Some chefs have even overgrown me, but that investment in people who want to learn the culinary trade is what’s truly rewarding. It’s how I contrib-ute and how my legacy lives on.
Is there anything you wish to share about the culinary trade that most don’t know?
Be patient. As a chef, there’s a lot of sacrifice. A lot of people say balance of life will come; if you want to grow your career as a chef, you need to have patience. It can take you to the top of your career.
Chef Leon Teow was born in Malaysia and raised as a young boy in Singapore. At the age of eight, he returned to Malaysia’s Penang
Island, where he helped with the family catering business, delivering orders every evening in the village, and eventually learning the art of his mother’s cooking. Prior to joining the team at ArrowCreek, Teow worked in some of the finest kitchens around the world, including Shangri-La Hotel in Malaysia; Mutiara Hotel (managed by Mandarin Oriental); The Princess Hotel in Bermuda; The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla.; and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Fla. Teow recently earned the highly regarded Certified Executive Chef® designation from the American Culinary Federation. He enjoys time in nature and with his family, including his wife and two college-bound daughters.