Tag Archives: Valley Center

Maderas Golf Club in San Diego California

Maderas: Flavor To the Max – A Q & A W/Maderas Sous Chef Max Walder

Maderas Golf Club in San Diego California

Variety is the spice of life and the same goes for the kitchen, where Maderas Sous Chef Max Walder says variety and spice are his two favorite ingredients.

“I don’t like to limit myself to a style,” he says. “Ultimately, I’m all about flavor and giving people the maximum (experience). Some chefs use spices subtly. I’m the total opposite. I want my food to punch you in the mouth. You should take a bite and say, ‘Wow.’”

Max has been spicing up his dishes at Maderas since October, when he joined the kitchen staff after working at Avant at Rancho Bernardo Inn. His culinary creations have often appeared as specials at Maderas and will soon be part of a new lunch menu the club is rolling out in the new year. A vegetarian sandwich Max created is especially anticipated by the regular guests.

Sandwiches and their role in his dishes are one of the things Max discussed about his cooking and career in an interview before the holiday that we present here as a Q & A.

You grew up in North County (Valley Center) San Diego and started cooking at an early age. What motivated you?

I have always loved cooking from the time when I was probably 8 years old. I’d jump in the kitchen with my parents and make whatever I could, like eggs. I was really lucky to grow up in a family that food was a big part of. Both my parents cook and do it very well, so they were a big influence. And we did things organically.

You took advantage of growing up on acreage. What did you enjoy about that?

That enabled us to have a nice garden and tons of fruit trees – oranges, peaches, plums, tangerines, guavas, avocados. There was a lot of experiment with.

I got my first kitchen job at 16 and every summer tried to get a job at a great restaurant and consequently had some amazing opportunities (including in Napa).

How does travel benefit you as a chef?

I take a lot of influence from my travels. For instance, when I think of cooking Mediterranean food, I think of cumin, coriander, paprika, cilantro, parsley and mint. And that’s how I think of places in the world, which I’m sure is what it’s like for all chefs. Then you branch out from there and be creative.

What’s different about cooking at Maderas for you?

It’s a completely different style of restaurant and cooking for me. I want to do things that get me excited and try some cool stuff but to also remember we have a traditional clientele base. I’m trying to find that right balance.

I have a background that’s exposed me to a lot of high-end food. It teaches you how to build flavor and think outside the box. I think from that background, I’ve grown a lot and eventually want to open my own restaurant and have it be a lot like Maderas, where we’re doing everything from scratch, from the sauces to the condiments.

How does the new vegetarian sandwich play into your cooking philosophy and creativity?

With my fine-dining background, I’ve developed a lot of ideas and techniques that I can bring to a place like (the Grille) to make quality food in an approachable way. That’s why I love sandwiches. You could put something on a sandwich that people haven’t tried before, but they’re more likely to try it because it’s in a food vehicle they’re familiar with.

The themed dinners at Maderas were one of the things that attracted you. How do you they challenge you as a chef?
I had a good time with the French dinner. I don’t tend to cook French, so that was fun. I made a lot of dishes that you don’t see here often, like duck confit. It involved a lot of interesting ingredients.

What overall do you value most about your opportunity at Maderas?

What attracted me is that I’d have a lot of creative freedom – and I have had that.

I’m able to really expand on anything I want and can experiment, especially with soups and tacos and try those as specials. That’s the creative freedom that really drew me.

WV7

Southland: Woods Valley Joins JC Golf

Jan. Southland

www.southlandgolf.com/articles/location-304-north-northern.html

Tucked away in Valley Center, in northern San Diego County, Woods Valley Golf Club has quietly remained a local favorite since opening in the early 2000s. JC Golf is looking to turn up the volume of players discovering, and talking about, the course.

JC Golf added Woods Valley to its popular JC Players Card in November and is hoping it entices more of its golfers to make the trek north.

JC Golf Director of Operations Erik Johnson said the initial response from players has been enthusiastic and positive.

“As soon as we announced it, it was really amazing to see how many new golfers showed up,” Johnson said. “It’s a great golf course that’s been around for over 10 years, and we are excited to use the JC brand to broad their exposure in the San Diego golf market.”

A boost in play would complete a year that has seen a remarkable improvement in the course conditions at Woods Valley, Johnson said, despite the drought. He credits superintendent John Martinez, who formerly oversaw Journey at Pechanga, for coaxing the course to its peak.

“It’s in great condition,” he said. “It’s up to the standard we expect for all of our courses.”

As the name suggests, the course is indeed tree-lined, but the layout alternates between being tight and open, somewhat akin to another JC course, Twin Oaks in San Marcos.

The front nine is more open and receptive to scoring. Then the course ups the ante on the challenge on the back with what many regard as one of the strongest back nines in in the region.

“It’s one of the best back-nine layouts in all of San Diego,” Johnson said. “It goes in and out of the woods so there’s a lot of visual effect.”

The stretch begins with one of the more daunting tee shots in San Diego. The par-4 10th has an elevated tee with water on the left and a wooded out of bounds right. There’s a narrowing landing area to hit to position yourself for an uphill approach. The wind often comes from your right, which makes the tee shot even more demanding.

Perhaps the most picturesque hole is the 15th, a strategic short par 4 with a sharp dog-leg right played from an elevated tee that offers a gorgeous overview of the valley and mountain surroundings. Carrying the dogleg with a driver brings the green into play, although the more sensible play is a hybrid or long iron aimed at the turn to set up a wedge approach.

The course has a few drivable par 4s and reachable par 5s that bring low numbers – and also usually risk – into play.
Johnson said the myriad shot options give the course a high degree of repeat playability.

“You could play this course several times a month and not get bored.”

Throw in some eye-pleasing and playable par 3s and you have a layout that offers something for everyone but has flown under the radar despite being 15 minutes from Escondido and the I-15.

JC Golf’s mission is to let the secret out and invite more golfers to the experience.

“Golf courses can be challenged in a lot of ways, but with Woods Valley it’s simply getting the word out, because it’s a great product,” Johnson said. “With our marketing and the JC brand, we’re expecting the course to see sizable growth in rounds (in 2016).”

Woods Valley is also unique, Johnson said, in that it’s a pure playing experience, meaning there’s no attached resort or additional amenities, making it a great place to escape to work on your game.

The course has an all-grass driving range – “They don’t even own mats” – and boasts the current Southern California PGA San Diego Chapter 2015 Player of the Year, Grant Strobel, as its head golf professional.

A personal word of advice for first-timers at Woods: You’ll look at the overall length (6,291 from the blues; 6,670 from the blacks) and want to step back. Play the course once before you do. That decision really hits home on the back, where you’ll want to see the holes once before you take on the extra distance.

“It’s a really unique place to play,” Johnson said, “If we get people here once, they’re definitely going to come back.”

By The Numbers

2003 – Year Woods Valley opened as a nine-hole course

2004 – Year it expanded to 18

2015 – Year it was added to the JC Golf Players Card

15 – Number of minutes it takes to reach the course from the I-15

6,670 – Number of yards from the back tees

0 – Number of practice mats the club owns; the range is all grass

$59/$79 – Public weekday/weekend rate