Kitchen's Eyes and Ears

Ian Cook ’08 knows his way around the kitchen. As food and beverage manager at Moraga Country Club, he oversaw thousands of meals every week—despite admitting he’s no top chef.

“I always joke around and say my middle name is “Can’t.” Ian “Can’t” Cook. Thankfully, my wife took the last name and she’s an excellent cook,” he said of former Gael classmate Aishlin Hicks ’09. They were married in Saint Mary’s Chapel in 2013 and had their reception at Moraga Country Club.

What Ian brings to the table is good management skills, likeability and compassion. He oversaw a food and beverage staff of up to 35 employees and coordinated dozens of banquets and weddings at the 4,500-member golf, tennis and swim club.

“I’m the eyes and the ears of the kitchen staff,” he said, adding that timing is critical when you’re serving large parties.

“Say it’s a wedding and, on paper, they sit down at 7:30 for salads. Ninety-nine times out of 100, no one is sitting down at 7:30. And with such a delicate process like dressing the salad, you don’t want to start that too early.”

It’s not exactly what Cook had envisioned when he majored in Sports Recreation Management at SMC. But after taking a job as a waiter after graduation, he realized there was opportunity for advancement. “I didn’t want to move back home—I’d really fallen in love with the area around here and I was going to do anything I could to stay.”

Over the last six years, Cook has routinely used the communication and leadership skills he learned at Saint Mary’s. Whether it’s serving one businessman or an entire golf banquet, his goal is to treat each person with kindness and respect. “It’s the overall good feeling you get when you’re helping others,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than that.”

—Ginny Prior

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