By Mary Brady, Member Since 1989
Chef Shelby Confer is likely a name you know well if you’ve ever been to the Cooking School. Prior to running the Cooking School at Carysfort Kitchen for the past three years, Shelby spent several rotating in every kitchen on The Reef, sushi bar included. But a choice Shelby made many years ago could have easily led her in a different direction.
The middle daughter of three, Shelby was born in Waynesboro, PA and spent much of her time playing musical instruments. She had a love of flute and was set to pursue a degree in music until a gut feeling told her this was not to be her career path. At the lastminute she decided on culinary school and has never looked back.
“I have a passion for the savory side of cooking,” said Shelby. “I feel that cooking and sharing delicious meals helps bring people together, creating a bond between family and friends alike.”
Shelby graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (UPI), where she studied culinary arts, and, eight years ago, was recruited by Chef Philippe Reynaud, Senior Director Culinary Operations, to work at Ocean Reef Club. Shelby worked, (and we all know this is very hard work), her way up the ladder and was most recently promoted to CH Prime Chef de Cuisine. With her vast ORC Food & Beverage experience and her time working in the Cooking School alongside famous guest chefs from all over the world (Sara Grueneberg, Aaron Brooks and Tory McPhail to name a few), you could say Shelby is “primed” to take on the Clubhouse this season.
Shelby told me she feels working at Ocean Reef has been the opportunity of a lifetime. “What an education I have received,” she gleamed. “Where could I ever experience working for so many diversified venues and teams? I never stop learning and the possibilties are endless. I just love what I do. It’s not a job to me, it’s a way of life.”
We’re excited to see what the passionate Chef Shelby has in store for CH Prime this year. She assured me that this season’s menu will be familiar (Members should still be able to find their favorites), but will be elevated, and expanded. In planning the new menu, Shelby combined foods she enjoys with Member-favorites, saying, “Every meal is an extension of the chef and I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Shelby credits the tremendous support given by Chef Philippe Reynaud, Giovanni Melis (Senior VP F&B and Lodging), and her mentor Chef Andrea Van Willigan (ORC Executive Chef), for believing in her long before she believed in herself.
“I am so excited to embark on this new venture and use the skills and techniques from all I have learned,” she said.
With everything Shelby has going on, she also managed to contribute to the new Ocean Reef cookbook, “Flavors of the Reef,” which can be purchased at the Gift Shop. I promise you, it is well worth the read, beautifully illustrated, and will get you all the more excited for dining at The Reef this season to come.