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Meet the Team

Francois Jayen

A long-time Egypt Valley team member, Francois Jayen takes pride in his role as Culinary Team Cook at the Club. If you’ve dined at Egypt Valley and tried the clam chowder or cream of tomato soup, you know just how talented Francois is! Keep reading to learn more about Francois.

Please share a bit about your Egypt Valley journey and how you ended up where you are today.

I began working at Egypt Valley in 1998 and have been a part of our culinary team ever since. I was born and raised in France and attended culinary school there, too. I moved to the United States in 1986 when I was working for a French hotel company. They had a restaurant in Florida and it seemed like a great opportunity to travel and experience something new. I ultimately found my way to Grand Rapids and was working for a restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids when a position opened up at Egypt Valley.

Where does your culinary passion come from and how did you learn the skills you have today?

Growing up, I would cook with my mom—she was a great cook—and that’s really where my passion for cooking started. When I got older, I attended culinary school in France and have been working in the culinary industry ever since.

Your soups are particularly popular at the Club (specifically the clam chowder). Share a bit about what goes into creating a spectacular soup recipe!

A lot of time and preparation! Prepping the ingredients takes quite a bit of time—dicing, mincing, and chopping the vegetables and meats can sometimes take an hour and a half since I make about five gallons of soup at a time for each soup. I started cooking the soups several years ago and created the clam chowder recipe more than 10 years ago. I’m hesitant to change that recipe because it has consistently been a Club favorite. The cream of tomato is another flavor that I enjoy cooking because it’s a favorite in the Valley Room.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job right now is working in the mornings so I can spend extra time preparing and cooking the soups and other dishes. I used to work later in the day and late at night when the kitchen is a very fast-paced environment. After working in several different positions in the kitchen, I like that I can help out the culinary team where needed, but also be able to slow down in the mornings and take extra care preparing ingredients for the dishes on the menu.

Is there anything special members could look forward to enjoying in the dining room this fall?

Head Chef Ben Stinson and Executive Sous Chef Ben Kingsley spend a lot of time and care creating a menu full of dishes for our members to enjoy. I’m excited to see what recipes they’ll include on the menu this fall, but I know members can look forward to some really great seasonal flavors.

When you're not at the Club, what are some hobbies you're likely to be enjoying?

When I’m not at the Club, I enjoy watching movies and spending time with my family—I have five-year-old twin grandsons that always keep me laughing!