Plating Up The Fun – Chef Yakov Koyenov of The Club at The Dunes
Posted on March 21, 2022
by Joëlle Creamer
Nestled on Florida’s Paradise Coast, The Club at the Dunes features a variety of food and beverage experiences, from upscale and full-service to casual and shoes-not-required. Prioritizing extraordinary ambiance and culinary brilliance, the club’s dining operations are led by Executive Chef Yakov Koyenov. Full of energy, Koyenov shares his reflections on the culinary arts, a fun-first mindset, and how the club’s locale inspires his menus.
TROON: As a chef, where do you find your inspiration? KOYENOV: So much of my inspiration comes from cookbooks. One of my favorites is Yotam Ottolenghi’s, Ottolenghi Simple. The recipes let simple ingredients speak for themselves. At The Dunes, we pride ourselves on offering variety, often changing the menu every four to six weeks.
What’s something you do every day in the kitchen that you can’t imagine doing without?
The sous vide method of cooking. This is a technique where meats and seafood are vacuum-sealed and cooked in a water bath at precise temperatures. We like to use aromatics when we sous vide, like thyme and garlic. This method ensures that our product is cooked with ﬂavor, without common allergens, and helps us with the execution of our dishes in the kitchen so we can serve our members delicious, quality food.
Wellness is an important aspect of your club’s overall experience. How do you take that into consideration?
My team works directly with the wellness director of the club to create unique dishes to enjoy that are healthy and delicious. We feature these items on the DunesFit section of our menu.
How do you infuse the club’s geography into your culinary experience?
Our main produce supplier, Farmer Mike’s, is a farm just 10 minutes down the road. A lot of our menus are based on what they are growing, so if cauliﬂower is in bloom, then we put it on the menu three ways. We also source from local Oakes Farm, and many of our desserts are created just for the club by Mikkelson’s Pastry Shop right in Naples.
What’s an industry trend that you think will get hot?
Because of the pandemic, with people not being able to go out as much, dining together with family and sharing those moments is really special. People are yearning for something comforting — hearty pasta dishes, short ribs, classic comfort foods. I like to use the same ingredients, reinvented into new styles, so the outcome is just a bit different.
What’s something we can look forward to from you and your culinary team?
Obviously great food! And you’ll always see us having fun. We get into the day-to-day grind and sometimes it can be mundane, but adding the element of joy is key. We are big on clapping for team members; there’s just something about it that automatically puts a smile on people’s faces.
What’s something we can look forward to from you and your culinary team? Obviously great food! And you’ll always see us having fun. We get into the day-to-day grind and sometimes it can be mundane, but adding the element of joy is key. We are big on clapping for team members; there’s just something about it that automatically puts a smile on people’s faces.