Meet Chef John Cafarelli | Westhaven Golf Club

john cafarelli westhaven golf club
John Cafarelli, photo from golfwesthaven.com

In October 2019, with just a day-and-a-half to prepare and pack, Chef John Cafarelli left Cleveland, OH, to begin working as the Executive Chef at Westhaven Golf Club. He brings 25 years of culinary experience to the club’s dining facilities.

“At first I thought I’d try Southern food with a twist,” says Cafarelli, “but quickly pivoted when I realized how many members we have from the area I grew up in: Northeast Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. I’ve found many members enjoy when our team puts out something that’s very ethnically European. Pierogi (pasta stuffed with potatoes), for example, is one of those dishes that was commonplace where I grew up but people here have never seen and now they love it.”

The cuisine exchange has gone both ways. While Cafarelli has introduced favorites from his hometown of Akron, OH, he’s also discovered traditional Southern dishes like cubed steak and brown gravy that are new to him.

“In a private club setting, we try to take care of everybody’s tastes and desires,” says Cafarelli. “Many of our members want to eat clean and healthy, so a lot of our dishes are in the Mediterranean style. We cook for the tastes of our guests.”

The Club’s new summer menu (introduced July 7) features several salads, a perfectly smoked drumstick, and a seared tuna entree with sesame seeds and a cherry blossom soy sauce that brings a bourbon-like aroma to the dish. Yuzu kosho (a zesty pickled condiment from Japan) brings in the acidity to cut through the fat of the tuna, yielding elegantly understated results.

Many of the ingredients used in Chef Cafarelli’s kitchen are locally sourced or provided by small farms. The lettuce comes from Greener Roots Farm at Southall just a few miles away. Burgers, rib eye steaks, and American Wagyu beef come from Black Hawk Farms just over the Tennessee/Kentucky border. Lamb is provided by Freedom Run Farm, and poulet rouge chickens come from Joyce Farms in North Carolina. “We’re always looking for quality ingredients, whether they come from our own backyard or a little further away,” says Cafarelli.

While COVID-19 initially slowed business, Westhaven Golf Club has been able to expand seating by nearly 70 percent, while still maintaining proper social distancing, by seating guests on the downstairs patio. “It’s been a very popular setting,” says Cafarelli. “We have been happy to accommodate. At the end of the day, we work hard for our guests, but it’s very rewarding. Our members here are very kind and make the effort worth it.”

Learn more about Westhaven Golf Club at golfwesthaven.com. Westhaven Golf Club is located at 4000 Golf Club Lane | Franklin, Tennessee 37064.