RANCHMEN'S CLUB RISES TO CHALLENGE
Minimal membership losses during pandemic; new leadership has big plans
It has been an interesting and challenging two-year term for Dena Dixon, the first female president of The Ranchmen's Club, but she has achieved a lot during her pandemic-era leadership.
Following last week's annual general meeting she will continue to serve as past-president/ board member for another year, happy to have maintained a solid membership during the eight months the club was closed due to COVID restrictions and finding excellent replacements for general manager Kim Iwamoto, who has returned to Ontario, and head chef Kenneth Titcomb, who retired after an impressive 26 years serving members.
Only nine per cent of the membership was lost; include the normal drop due to attrition and the figure shows a strong loyalty to the club that maintains a healthy membership of around 1,160.
A search was held to find the best chef and the word was sent to the Canadian Society of Club Managers to make members aware of the Calgary opening.
The result is the hiring of the two men who have created a national culinary gem for this city; the small but much lauded Von Der Fels restaurant on 1st Street S.W. between 10th and
Owner/operator Will Trow has sold the restaurant as a turnkey operation to friends who will run it under a new name specializing in Italian cuisine. Already spending time getting to know The Ranchmen's Club, Trow will take over as general manager in September.
Born and raised on the West Island of Montreal, his first jobs were at some of Canada's most prestigious golf courses, working his way up in positions in bag shops and pro shops and, deciding that golf would be his career, took the golf management course at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont.
But second thoughts about a profession that had such a short Canadian season led him back to Montreal where he graduated in business and marketing at the University of Montreal's Hautes Etudes Commerciales Business School.
While earning his bachelor's degree, Trow started his first business, taking over a health food bar in a fitness centre. He diversified into catering and meal planning, and discovered a new passion in wine. After more schooling to become a certified sommelier, he had another calling — the West.
His father was in business here and after several trips to Calgary and Banff — his wife, Sandi, is a ski instructor — he sold his business and moved here in search of new opportunities.
Von Der Fels was opened in 2016 and the following year won Air Canada Enroute third-best new restaurant, followed by many more accolades.
Trow's chef since 2018,
Douglas King, who elevated the cuisine at Von Der Fels by relying on high-quality locally sourced ingredients, has been hired as the new head chef at The Ranchmen's Club.
King will bring his experience from fine kitchens such as the Lumiere, Hawksworth and Kissa Tanto in Vancouver but, although he looks forward to introducing Italian and Japanese menu items to the club, says his favourite preparation is still ribeye — and he promises to always serve club specialties of toasted lobster sandwiches and liver and onions.
King is also a skier, having completed the strenuous 55-kilometre Canadian Birkebeiner cross-country race six times
Trow and King look forward to this new chapter in their careers, along with a staff of 30 serving members and guests of the 130-year-old club.
Now under the leadership of newly elected president Harry Taylor, it is planning more exciting changes that will include converting the Wolf 's Den into a welcoming cocktail bar and more workspaces available for members in the post-pandemic business world.
Sport has always been a guiding passion for Marco De Iaco, and he is now back serving the industry as the newly appointed vice-president of business development for the Western Hockey League. De Iaco's career involvement with sports includes terms as vice-president of sales, sports and major events at Tourism Calgary, executive director Calgary Sports Tourism Authority, and a director for Olympic & Paralympic Bid Exploration. Add his business degrees from the University of Calgary and the Smith School of Business at Queen's, and De Iaco is well suited to his new position.