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Brenda Wilson Bickham, a kitchen chef at Stone Creek Club & Spa in Louisiana, is the bright spot of every member and employee’s day. “Brenda is the epitome of a loyal, dedicated team member,” said Marvin Gresse, the club’s assistant general manager. “Brenda is one of the longest serving and integral team members in our very successful café operation. Her specials and down home Southern cooking are what our members look forward to on a daily basis at the club. From her healthy salads to heartwarming red beans and rice, she has everyone covered for a great meal and experience at Stone Creek.”
According to Gresse, Bickham also embodies the club’s service principle, doing anything needed to make a member’s day and to contribute to the success of Stone Creek. This includes customizing a member’s meal request to performing ordering and management duties when past food and beverage directors have left the club.
“Mrs. Brenda is the heartbeat of our club, and I cannot imagine Stone Creek without her,” said Gresse.
Here, Bickham shares the favorite aspects of her job and what’s kept her at Stone Creek all this time.
Title: Kitchen Chef
Club: Stone Creek Club & Spa
Years of Service: 8 years
CS: What is the favorite aspect of your job? What’s kept you at Stone Creek all this time?
BB: My favorite part is talking with the members — getting to know them and them getting to know me. I like when the members stop and wave to me in the kitchen. Everyone is amazing!
CS: What was your “aha” moment that made you realize you loved this job? And how does Stone Creek make you feel valued as an employee?
BB: When the café manager took me on a tour the very first time I came to Stone Creek, I thought “this is the place for me!” Everybody respects me. Everyone loves my gumbo so much they put my name on the menu. It’s now called Mrs. Brenda’s gumbo!
CS: Where do you get your work ethic?
BB: I learned it form one of my former coworkers, Mrs. Nell Garrett. She told me, “I’m going to give you my legacy,” and she taught me everything I needed to know in the kitchen. I always try to live up to her legacy.
Also, I just never sit still — I’m always moving. When I get home, I get cooking for my family. My whole family knows they won’t find me laying down or taking a rest unless I’m sick!
CS: How do you keep a positive attitude?
BB: Think positive every day. No matter what I go through, I don’t let it affect my job. I just stay away from the negative stuff. Also, every day when I come in, I pray and ask the Lord to bless my food and help me put love into it. When you do that, it shows in the food, and the members feel it and taste it.
CS: What practices or techniques do you use to make strong connections with members?
BB: I just take time to try to get to know the members and remember what they like and don’t like. I still remember from my past jobs what my customers liked and didn’t like. It just comes naturally, and it makes them feel special. Everywhere I have worked, I learn people’s names.
CS: What best practice tips can you share that would be beneficial to professionals in a similar role at other clubs?
BB: Communication and teamwork are the most important things to get the job done right. Everybody needs to know what’s going on so we can all work together. When I’m training new kitchen staff, I teach them how to make a plan to start the day and follow it — it’ll make your whole day go smoother if you start ahead of the game.
CS: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and what did you learn from it?
BB: I had a chance to partner with someone and launch a business many years back, but I didn’t do it. I still wonder what path my life would have taken if I would have done that.
CS: What’s your funniest member story?
BB: One morning a member I knew started yelling at me about how I messed up her food and saying she was going to get me fired. She really caught me off-guard, and then she smiled and said, “April Fools!” She still teases me about that day!
CS: What’s the best gift from a member you’ve ever received?
BB: A member treated me to a day at our spa. I enjoyed a manicure, facial, massage and lunch —and even a beer! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Final thought — I just love my job. I enjoy what I do. Try to leave a mark and say hey, I’ve been here.
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