Meet Robert Huff: Golden Ocala’s New Director of Food and Beverage
Becoming the new Director of Food and Beverage at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club is a dream come true for Robert Huff.
He’s thought about working here ever since moving to Ocala in 2005, when he first played golf and enjoyed fine dining experiences here at the club. The timing just never seemed to be right until now.
“As Director, I will oversee all aspects of food and beverage that are served out here,” he said. “I will assist our culinary team, our banquets and events team and we’ll develop events, menus and more. I’ll work hand in hand with Executive Chef Rick Alabaugh in creating an amazing dining experience for all of our members.”
Huff’s food and beverage experience goes back 23 years and includes work at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Council Oak Steakhouse at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and Hollywood, as well as locally at Sky Asian Fusion, Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse and the former Felix’s. For the past four years, he’s worked as director of operations for the Mojo Grill and Catering Company, helping to open four restaurants.
Huff brings a wealth of wine experience to Golden Ocala’s restaurants. During his time at Ruth’s Chris, his wine lists won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence four times. According to WineSpectator.com, this award goes to restaurants whose wine lists “typically offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.”
He’s looking forward to using his great wine experience in making some additions to Golden Ocala’s wine list, including a new half bottle menu. This allows people to enjoy a wine that they may not normally order. It gives them the flexibility of trying new things at a lower cost.
“When I was at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, we put together a half bottle menu in South Florida and it was extremely popular,” he said. “There were 35 selections on there. It was nice because you could try a $100 bottle of wine for $55 or $60 in half bottles.”
Huff will also be working on some new martini and specialty drinks. Don’t be surprised if you’re at Knickers one afternoon and find him passing out some test drinks for you to try.
“We used to have test kitchens at Ruth’s Chris, so we had test bars, too,” he said. “We might make 75 variations of one cocktail to get to the flavor profile we want to do. No different than what a chef does when he’s creating a sauce.”
Speaking of great sauces and food, Huff said he’s looking forward to working closely with Alabaugh.
“He’s incredibly talented,” Huff said. “He produces such an amazing product already. I’ll follow his direction and lead on that. He’s known for creating just amazing dishes that please the palate like you won’t believe.”
When he’s not tending to food and beverage duties at Golden Ocala, Huff enjoys spending time on his boat in Crystal River and doing some fishing. He’s got a 6-year-old yellow lab named Cuervo.
Huff said he really enjoys the atmosphere of a private club and is excited about his new role at Golden Ocala.
“I think we can raise the member experience to another whole level by being hands-on with our members and getting feedback from them,” he said. “I’ll also be creating training programs for our team members that will give them the tools they need to provide an improved experience for all of our members.”