Belle Terre reinvention under way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The owners of Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace are planning on taking the club in a new direction.

Owner Tarsem Wadhwa said she is focused on reanimating the club’s atmosphere.

“It’s gotten negativity from the previous management, and we’d like to bring it back to the Belle Terre that it was back in the ’70s and ’80s. That is, it was a family-oriented club, and that’s what we want. We want people in here, we want it to be family-oriented and want it to be the premier Professional Golfers’ Association course that it’s been, and it is the River Parishes’ premier event venue,” said Wadhwa.

To help her accomplish this goal, Wadwha has taken on two new employees she said will help take the business to the next level — Dean Terrebonne, the new executive chef, and Matt Goldsmith, director of golf.

Terrebonne feels his most valuable assets are his qualifications. He apprenticed in Belgium’s Hotel Metropole and worked in Lille, France, and Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, he is also the vice president of the American Culinary Federation, a former chef instructor at Nicholls State University and 2007 chef of the year of the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

Terrebonne said the difference between food here and in Europe is a matter of quality over quantity.

“Ours is more of a country-type food. Their techniques are more refined. They cut things smaller, more delicate. They’re not huge eaters,” he said.

Terrebonne came from a very large family and said his mother’s techniques exposed him to cooking at a very early age. He was the youngest child of 12 and grew up in Golden Meadow.

“I was always on her apron strings, learning how to do what she does. I was never interested in cooking until I got older, but I was always interested in seeing what she was doing. How she made her gumbo, her jambalaya,” said Terrebonne.

As far as his specialities, Terrebonne considers himself diverse, but has a preference for seafood dishes.

“We’ve got our garden in our back yard — the Gulf of Mexico. The freshest seafood you can get is Louisiana seafood. Anything you’re doing fresh, Louisiana Gulf fish. The way I cook is very suitable for Gulf seafood,” he said.

Goldsmith had a history with the Belle Terre Country Club even before he was hired into his current position. The 42-year-old father of two said he and his father were regulars at the club when he was a young man.

“Believe it or not, I was introduced to this golf course as a cart attendant. I was a cart attendant here, I want to say in 1992. When I was in high school, me and my dad were members here. When he moved, I wanted to keep playing here so I went to work as a cart attendant,” he said.

Goldsmith is originally from the area but left for several years to pursue other interests. He maintains the belief the course has a special quality and hopes to be a defining factor in getting the facility back on track.

“I love the tradition of this place. Belle Terre, in my mind, is one of the finest facilities in the south,” he said. “There’s a lot of tradition here. It’s a great course. It’s a Pete Dye-designed golf course. It’s always had a special place in my heart, so it was something I was willing to come back here and do to try and bring the course back to where it once was.”

Goldsmith was once an avid golfer himself, but a recent back surgery for a ruptured disk has forced him to cut back on his playing time. Despite this setback, he said his current job is something of a dream come true.

“(Golf is) the greatest sport there is. This isn’t work. Do what you love. You’ll never work a day in your life,” he said.

Wadwha is optimistic and said having Terrebonne and Goldsmith contribute their expertise will surely help restore the facility’s former glory. In addition to her new hires, Wadwha has other plans to better the club, such as repairing existing drainage issues, making superficial improvements to the golf course, updating the club house facilities and even incorporating a fresh herb garden onto the grounds for the kitchen staff to use in their recipes.

Wadwha also plans to do at least one event every month. Ideas include special tournaments for members, chef cooking demos, public awareness nig-hts and plenty of family-oriented fun. Wadwha is currently planning a “Magical Comedy Nig-ht” in May, in which she will invite a world-renowned magician and comedian to entertain diners while they enjoy a special buffet meal.

Most importantly, Wadwha said she wants the public to know that Belle Terre Country Club is always open to the public.

“We are here. We are their club. We still run across people that didn’t know we are open for lunch and that you can come in and eat without being a member. It’s a work in progress, but we have some fun stuff planned in the next couple of months,” she said.