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Five-star cuisine

Executive Chef Kevin Donnelly stirs up distinctive dining

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May 13th, 2016
Devonshire Executive Chef Kevin Donnelly

To prepare for the evening’s meal, Devonshire Executive Chef Kevin Donnelly starts setting up the buffet line in the Verandah clubhouse restaurant.

Kevin Donnelly, the new executive chef at Devonshire at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, has more than 15 years of culinary experience at fine dining venues in Pennsylvania and his native New Jersey. 

He moved to Florida to explore a different part of the country and to work with Devonshire Director of Dining Services Jorge Lopez.

The two chefs had worked together at Stroudsmoor Country Inn, a large-scale event venue in Stroudsville, Pa.

“Jorge is very talented, and we developed a great chemistry,” Donnelly says. “When he gave me the opportunity to join the Erickson Living team, I was definitely happy about that.”

As executive chef, Donnelly carries out important responsibilities.

He oversees culinary production for Devonshire’s five clubhouse dining venues: The kitchen provides daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Sunday brunch; and resident events and banquets. 

He supports recruitment, hiring, development, and retention of culinary staff. And with Lopez, he works to ensure Devonshire’s well-deserved reputation for five-star cuisine.

Donnelly orders the food, creates the menus, determines the specials, and makes sure everything meets the highest standard of excellence. 

“I can’t be everywhere at the same time,” he says. But he checks nearly every plate before it’s served.

High praise

The kitchen is doing a fantastic job, says Polly Sherk. As chair of Devonshire’s culinary committee, she receives her neighbors’ feedback about the meals.  

“It’s all good,” Polly says. “We have excellent chefs, and our meals are exceptional.”

The clubhouse restaurants all have their own distinct menus and ambience, making dining at Devonshire a culinary adventure.

While Piccadeli’s menu remains reliably the same, Verandah’s buffet menu changes every night. Menus at Windsor Steakhouse, Cavendish Café seafood restaurant, and Oxford Pub change every three weeks. 

Everything on the menus is something that Donnelly, his two sous chefs, or his lead line cook have created. “And they’re all my favorites,” he says. 

He introduces new flavors as daily specials.

Taste sensations

Some of those, like seared Chilean sea bass, and pompano with seared shrimp and citrus buerre blanc, have sold out every night since their introduction. 

Residents especially like bronzino, a Mediterranean sea bass. “We always have to order more sea bass, pompano, and bronzino when they’re on the menu,” Donnelly says.

Prime rib and lamb chops reign as red-meat favorites. Were he dining at Devonshire, Donnelly says he would be hard-pressed to choose between filet mignon and seared sea bass.

His culinary background features stints at hotels and restaurants. At Devonshire, he cooks for the same clientele every evening. Donnelly likes that.

“It’s pleasant because you can develop relationships with the diners,” he says. He knows their likes and dislikes and can create menus accordingly.

What does he cook for himself? He doesn’t. 

A newcomer to Florida, for now Donnelly is exploring the Palm Beach area and sampling its many restaurants. 

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