Like so many other places, things have looked a little different around Reynolds Lake Oconee this year. In the wake of social distancing guidelines, our teams were challenged to think outside of the box, finding creative ways to still provide the first-class experiences and service our Members have come to know and enjoy. While keeping safety at the forefront, Reynolds’ teams took existing activities and added a bit of a twist—MyReynolds.TV, curbside pickup, and Linger Longer Living Room to name a few—allowing Members to keep enjoying their favorite pastimes.

Dining was no exception thanks to Executive Chef Derin Moore who instead thought “inside the box!” Now Members can enjoy his delicious cuisine from the comfort of their own homes—and better yet, they can cook along with the Certified Master Chef, thanks to his new meal kits. Each kit includes all necessary ingredients for two servings, detailed instructions, and a video of Chef Moore walking through the preparation process on MyReynolds.TV.

“The meal kits came out of a challenge to create a unique, but simple, experience for Members when in-dining options were limited,” says Chef Moore. “While our services are still limited and some Members are hesitant to come sit in the restaurants, this is a fun, interactive alternative to provide a fresh, affordable, delicious meal.”

The meal kits have been a hit since their debut, with more than 600 made thus far and a current average of 120 kits purchased every other week. Each meal is carefully planned by Chef Moore to appeal to a variety of palates, and account for Member requests.

“My favorite dish, the paella, actually came from a request,” says Chef Moore. “The preparation involved many different things that home cooks do not regularly do and a lot to learn, not to mention great flavors and a WOW on the presentation.”

Since May 27, Members have had the opportunity to prepare and savor seven different meals, including shrimp with lobster pasta, seared salmon and tabbouleh, Spanish paella, and more. Which one was best, you may wonder? Just ask Members Pat and George Fleet, who learned about the meal kits through a Member e-blast early on, and have cooked their way through all seven meals.

“All of the meals were delicious, but George and I agree the best overall for flavor, ease of preparation, and presentation was kit #1, the shrimp with lobster pasta,” says Pat. “Tied for second was the seared salmon with tabbouleh (kit #2) and roasted halibut with lemon risotto, creamed leeks & asparagus (kit #5). We don’t order halibut when we’re out and were skeptical, but we knew if anyone could teach us how to prepare it properly ourselves with the freshest ingredients, it’d be Chef Moore!”

Already an experienced cook, Pat learned a host of new tricks of the trade from Chef Moore’s instructional videos. She can now step up her kitchen game by removing the dark bloodline from salmon for better presentation and a less ‘fishy’ taste, build flavors by seasoning ingredients as they are added, and perform the magic that happens when a tender steak or delicate fish filet is finished in the oven. She even added a few new knife skills to her repertoire, including the Paysanne and triangular roll cuts.

“I love to cook (and eat!) and have taken many classes over the years,” says Pat. “I'm fairly confident in my abilities in the kitchen. However, Chef Moore is so knowledgeable and approachable, giving clear tips and techniques—he’s reviewed the basics and introduced me to new things!”

For Chef Moore, the meal kits have been an opportunity to continue providing a first-class dining experience while also sharing his love of the culinary arts with Members.

“I have always enjoyed making people happy through my craft and teaching and mentoring culinarians. That is the reason I got into the business,” says Chef Moore. “It’s especially rewarding shooting these instructional videos for the recipe library of our Members. I feel it gives the Membership an appreciation for the work it takes to develop the layers of flavor we create in our kitchens.”

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