Chef Rick Talks Fish! Don’t mess with Rick Alabaugh, the executive chef at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. Although the hands-on chef views his role as an esoteric expression of fine artistry, he just might be as adept at busting bad guys as he is at whipping up some culinary masterpieces.
At 56, Alabaugh wasn’t always focused on a career in culinary arts, a phrase he believes precisely captures his mission at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. He is, first and foremost, an artist; and his job is to create, he says.
As he was leaving high school, he went to college to study law enforcement. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He later entered West Virginia Law School with his sights on becoming an attorney. But that goal was thwarted by dreams of becoming a chef, planted in his early college years working at The Greenbriar at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
He compares his new love for the kitchen to “girlfriends.” Sure, you think your first girlfriend is the love of your life, he said. But then the second one comes along. “I found another love. And I absolutely love this.”
DAD: ‘WHAT! ARE YOUR MAD?’
The news that he wanted to abandon law enforcement and the legal field to become a chef didn’t settle gently on his father. “My dad said, ‘What! Are you out of your mind?’”
The culinary industry requires unique and peculiar personality traits; true chefs immerse themselves in the occupation, letting it consume their way of thinking and their outlooks, he said.
“It is always our way to express our way of life,” he said, rarely seeming to take a breath when he discussing the tools — the creative elements — of his trade. “It is like Disney. When your orders are coming it, you’re on stage.”
Alabaugh has been with Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club for about ten years, before the facility even opened. But he’s been “in the kitchen” since he was 18. “It becomes part of your life,” he said. “It’s like an addiction.”
Alabaugh said he’s a different kind of chef, focused more on what customers want than his own sense of personal artistry and creative inclinations. “I give our members what they want,” he said. He writes all the menus for Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club’s restaurants.
TELLING FISH TALES
Ever the artist who takes great pride in his work, Alabaugh said he wanted to clear the waters about the subject of fish. Future blogs will address other aspects of the culinary service at Golden Golf & Equestrian Club restaurants.
Starting with salmon: The fish at his restaurants are organic and farm-raised in the ocean, as opposed to raised in a pen. The fish are taken from Faroe Islands water in the North Atlantic Ocean where temperatures remain steady all-year round.
All salmon arrive at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club restaurants arrive within 72 hours of capture, meaning the fish are fresh, clean and truly organic. Other fish at the restaurants are obtained from Gary’s Seafood in Orlando(Halperns’ Purveyors of Steak & Seafood) within 48 hours.