After cooking professionally for more than 18 years, Kris Alber landed his dream job as the executive chef at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Thanksgiving of 2022. An avid golfer and foodie, Alber described his food style as midwestern chic. “It looks good on the plate, but at the end of day, it’s still meat and potatoes.”
While “meat and potatoes” sound simple, Alber takes his to the next level with combinations such as beef tenderloin stuffed with Danish blue cheese, green beans glazed with garlic herb butter, and mashed potatoes topped with caramelized onions. “The mashed potatoes are my specialty. I came up with the recipe years ago and it’s followed me everywhere,” he said.
Alber, who is from Tecumseh, Mich., graduated from Albion College and then earned his culinary and pastry degrees in 2008 from Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City, Mich. “I originally wanted to be a pastry chef but got hired to be a banquet chef right after college,” he explained. Most recently Alber served as executive chef at the University of Toledo. “I’ve basically worked in some sort of food service since I was 14. I got my start at Even Street Station in Tecumseh where I worked as a cook, bus boy and host. That restaurant lit my spark for high end dining.”
Since starting at Highland Meadows, Alber has updated the club’s menu with new recipes inspired by French and Italian cuisine including the Farmhouse Brie and Prosciutto Panini and the Duck Confit Poutine. Under his direction, all the desserts are now made from scratch, and he recently purchased equipment to make sorbets, granita and gelatos to accompany them.
Alber’s goal for diners, “I want to expand people’s mindset on food without pushing them outside the boundary. You trust me to bring you safe, good food, but also want people to trust me to bring something new to the table.”
Spring Pear Clafoutis
1 ounce unsalted butter
3 cups large, ripe pears (D’Anjou is preferred), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup cognac
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar (divided)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon iodized salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a baking dish or cast iron pan. In a bowl, combine pears, cognac, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Let stand for 1 hour and drain. Place batter ingredients in a blender, reserving half the sugar. Blend for approximately 1 minute. Coat the bottom of the greased pan with batter and cook on the stove over medium heat until it starts to firm up. This way the fruit will not sink to the bottom. Remove from heat and pour in the remaining batter.