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The Club Car's Head Chef: Tom Proch

Lobster Ack 'N Cheese Video

The Club Car restaurant has been a standby Nantucket establishment for quite some time now. Maybe it’s the piano bar, the fact that you can dine in a piece of Nantucket’s history, or the irresistible dishes created by Chef Tom Proch, all things that keep diners coming back year after year. Whatever it may be it's clear that The Club Car is doing something right.
If the atmosphere isn’t enough to draw you in, Tom’s dishes certainly will be.
Tom Proch started working at The Club Car over 25 years ago, in the position of the cold station. He may have started in a small position, but quickly learned the ins and outs by watching Michael Shannon, who at the time was the head chef. For over 10 years now Tom himself has held the title of The Club Car’s Head Chef.

As Tom explained to me, “it’s a happy dysfunctional family at The Club Car.” Well, I guess we all do need a little dysfunction in our lives to truly enjoy the happiness. The Club Car certainly brings that happiness out in its loyal clientele and staff. Restaurants often see staff come and go, switching positions or moving along to another restaurant. This is not the case at The Club Car, which has had the same Sous Chef for 17 years, head-waitress for 12, and the main (do it all) kitchen man for 23. Not only is this establishment treating its customers right, but their staff as well. I guess they truly are a “family”

Tom puts long hours into the seasonal restaurant, starting his days at 8:00 a.m. prepping for lunch, taking a short midday break to spend with his children, and then coming back to start all over again preparing for the fine dining crowd. Don’t worry though; he does take the usual chef’s day off, Sunday. Most likely during his little down time you’ll find him spending time with his wife Pauline and two children, Michael and Sophie. When asked where he likes to dine out his humble side was quick to shine through, “I do love Fusaro’s for some classic spaghetti and meatballs”. Even though he works at a fine dining establishment, Tom still loves that home-style food. Let’s put it this way: if Tom had a choice for a last meal it’d be spaghetti and meatballs.

The featured video below is the entire clip, which I promised in my “Monday Funday” post, of Tom creating the first course: Lobster Ack ‘N Cheese (priced at $22.00). Let me tell you, it is definitely worth the money! This is no average macaroni and cheese considering it contains lobster, ditalini pasta, truffle cheese sauce, and even a lobster beurre blanc. We filmed this dish being made before 11 a.m. on a Friday morning. That definitely didn't bother me after seeing Tom create this scrumptious dish and then being offered a large spoon to try some. If you are trying to eat on the healthy side and can’t remember the last time you touched carbs, I promise you this is definitely the time to “break your calorie bank!”

Click the following link to watch Chef Tom Proch create The Club Car's Lobster Ack 'N Cheese:

Aside from the delicious Lobster Ack ‘N Cheese dish, I was able to try a special veal preparation of Tom’s, which as expected was out of this world. I personally am not a veal fan, but this has changed my mind. When dining at The Club Car, the veal preparation of the day is not something I will stay away from (as I normally do at other dining spots). What I found most interesting was Tom’s true appreciation for the dishes he creates, the thought that goes into them, and his true passion for cooking. He has a love for the “OFFALS” (organ meats) of the culinary world such as: sweetbreads and calves liver. This may sound disturbing to some, but Tom explained there are those diners who appreciate the right preparation of these dishes, and he loves to share his creations with them. During the interview Tom was extra enthusiastic about a monkfish liver dish (from The Ruthie B. fishing boat) that he created: Monkfish Veronique. As he explained, this is essentially “the foie gras of the sea”. The nightly entrée: Local Fresh Catch from the Ruthie B. is also sourced from Nantucket resident Bill Blount’s fishing boat, The Ruthie B.. Every day Tom creates a new fresh/flavorful entrée from whatever type of fish The Ruthie B. has just caught. Tom explained he does have a love for the classic French dishes; therefore the nightly preparation may fall into this culinary category. 

Maybe it’s Tom’s enthusiasm along with his humility which is the key to pleasing diners year after year. Whatever it may be, The Club Car not only brings back the same faces annually, but has also attracted famous faces such as Jimmy Buffet, Walter Cronkite, and even a band member of Yes. They have clientele who have told Tom they “dream of certain dishes over the winter”.
If you’re looking for a spot to indulge a little, or even just listen to some good music, The Club Car is the spot to go. I know you’ll find me there for a late night drink, to listen to the piano bar, and of course to indulge in Head Chef Tom Proch's indulgent dishes. 

Stop by The Club Car for lunch, dinner, or to listen to the live piano bar located at: 1 Main Street 

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Can't wait to get to the Club Car to try this!