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Chefs are cooking up changes at The Club

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Club chef Joe Zamora (left) and sous chef Kirk Dunning create gourmet handmade hamburgers as new menu items available at The Club. The pub-style burgers are only one of the changes that have happened or will happen at the base restaurant. On-base pizza delivery and smoked barbecue items are slated for some time in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Club chef Joe Zamora (left) and sous chef Kirk Dunning create gourmet handmade hamburgers as new menu items available at The Club. The pub-style burgers are only one of the changes that have happened or will happen at the base restaurant. On-base pizza delivery and smoked barbecue items are slated for some time in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Pictured are four of the new pub-style burgers available at the Club. Clockwise from top left: Club Big Boy with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, grilled ham and fried pickles; Bristol Lab Chop House with grilled onions and mushrooms infused with Bristol Laughing Lab Scottish ale topped with provolone cheese; Cracked peppercorn and bleu cheese; and the Zamora with muenster cheese, green chiles, fried Texas toothpicks and a sriracha avocado aoli. Two other burgers, the 50-50 bacon burger and the teriyaki pineapple turkey burger are also available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Pictured are four of the new pub-style burgers available at the Club. Clockwise from top left: Club Big Boy with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, grilled ham and fried pickles; Bristol Lab Chop House with grilled onions and mushrooms infused with Bristol Laughing Lab Scottish ale topped with provolone cheese; Cracked peppercorn and bleu cheese; and the Zamora with muenster cheese, green chiles, fried Texas toothpicks and a sriracha avocado aoli. Two other burgers, the 50-50 bacon burger and the teriyaki pineapple turkey burger are also available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Club Big Boy, topped with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, grilled ham and fried pickles is just one of six new gourmet burgers offered at the Club. The burger lineup is one of several changes that have taken place at the facility, with more expected to come in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Club Big Boy, topped with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, grilled ham and fried pickles is just one of six new gourmet burgers offered at the Club. The burger lineup is one of several changes that have taken place at the facility, with more expected to come in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Handcrafted hamburger patties are grilled over the flame before they are finished on the flat top in the kitchen at the Club. The patties go with one of the six new gourmet hamburgers now offered at the Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Handcrafted hamburger patties are grilled over the flame before they are finished on the flat top in the kitchen at the Club. The patties go with one of the six new gourmet hamburgers now offered at the Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club Chef Joe Zamora handcrafts burger patties for the new gourmet hamburger line offered at the Club. The new six-burger lineup features brew pub-style burgers with a variety of toppings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club Chef Joe Zamora handcrafts burger patties for the new gourmet hamburger line offered at the Club. The new six-burger lineup features brew pub-style burgers with a variety of toppings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Club sous chef Kirk Dunning works the flat top finishing handmade hamburger patties in the Club's kitchen. The patties are the star attraction on one of six gourmet pub-style burgers now available. Other menu changes like pizza delivered on base and smoked barbecue food are other changes expected for 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Club sous chef Kirk Dunning works the flat top finishing handmade hamburger patties in the Club's kitchen. The patties are the star attraction on one of six gourmet pub-style burgers now available. Other menu changes like pizza delivered on base and smoked barbecue food are other changes expected for 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Creating layers of flavor, Club chef Joe Zamora carefully adds bleu cheese to a handmade hamburger patty. The patty is at the center of one of six new gourmet burgers offered at the Club as one of the latest menu changes. Other changes, such as on-base pizza delivery and barbecue items from a smoker, also are slated for this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Creating layers of flavor, Club chef Joe Zamora carefully adds bleu cheese to a handmade hamburger patty. The patty is at the center of one of six new gourmet burgers offered at the Club as one of the latest menu changes. Other changes, such as on-base pizza delivery and barbecue items from a smoker, also are slated for this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club Chef Joe Zamora flame broils handmade patties for gourmet hamburgers now available at the Club. The new offering, which became available Jan. 6, favors handmade foods over pre-made, frozen patties as part of a lineup of six gourmet burgers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club Chef Joe Zamora flame broils handmade patties for gourmet hamburgers now available at the Club. The new offering, which became available Jan. 6, favors handmade foods over pre-made, frozen patties as part of a lineup of six gourmet burgers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club sous chef Kirk Dunning prepares hamburgers on the grill. Adding six gourmet pub-style burgers are just one of the changes at the base eatery, with more to come in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 21st Force Support Squad Peterson Club sous chef Kirk Dunning prepares hamburgers on the grill. Adding six gourmet pub-style burgers are just one of the changes at the base eatery, with more to come in 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Are you looking for a pizza or handcrafted burger to satisfy your hunger, but don't want to leave base to buy them? Fret no more because these and other homemade food items are now available at The Club right here on base.

Joe Zamora, 21st Force Support Squadron Club chef, and Kirk Dunning, his sous chef, continue their plan to bring pleasant changes to The Club. From offering pizza to an improved buffet to gourmet burgers, several changes took place at the base eatery in 2014 and there are more to come. All have one thing in common: they are delicious.

In the spring, Zamora and Dunning spoke about changing some of the menu items aimed at drawing in people who don't normally eat at The Club. The duo wants to provide homemade, fresh foods to the base, upping the quality of menu items at the same time.

"Since we've been here we are trying to increase the quality of the buffet and catering food, trying for less pre-made and more handmade food," Zamora said.

Following that particular path, The Club rolled out new gourmet hamburgers beginning Jan. 6. A half dozen burgers make up the lineup and feature bigger handmade burgers - opposed to pre-made patties - bigger buns and different toppings.

"It is more or less what you would get in a brew house," Dunning explained.

"It is more than a burger with tomatoes and American cheese," Zamora added.

Another of the changes that took place in 2014 was making pizza available at the venue and for pickup. Fresh, handmade pizza with a variety of potential toppings is a significant addition to Club offerings.

"We have a new pizza oven ordered that will help make it faster and help with deliveries," Zamora said. The Club is planning to launch pizza delivery on base during dinner and lunch hours sometime in 2015.

Another pizza related change is coming soon. The Club offers 10-inch pizzas currently, but just for the Super Bowl they will sell 14-inch pizzas as well. While the plan is to only offer the larger pies for the big game, Zamora and Dunning didn't rule out the possibility of the larger size finding a permanent place on the menu.

A more noticeable change in The Club's dining experience is the revamped buffet table.

"We got new equipment and a more contemporary design," Zamora said. "We updated the salad bar and the steam tables."

Some longtime club events continue to be successful. The guest chef event remains popular as do the cooking sessions for kids. The Kids Cooking Camp in April was a hit and the kids BBQ Cooking Camp slated for Jan. 17 was sold out almost as quickly as registration was opened.

Zamora and Dunning are barbecue experts so it is no surprise that the potential addition of a smoker to the Club's equipment inventory excites them.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed on that," Dunning said.

Diners at the eatery are pleased with the food and menu changes Zamora said. There are a number of people who haven't come in to the Club to eat in a couple of years or so, but are coming back now which makes the chefs happy.

"People tell us they are glad we're here and they recognize us," Zamora said.

It makes Curtis Clayton, Club manager, glad too. He estimates sales in the dining room were up 7 percent to 10 percent for 2014. Zamora said keeping costs down while increasing sales has been the goal all along.

The increase is seen in the mix of customers, Dunning pointed out. Regular members, new members and an influx of diners not using the facility before are apparent to him.

"We are seeing a bigger mix. We see a lot of regulars, but we are seeing more people from the buildings on base come in instead of leaving base," he said.

Zamora, Dunning and Clayton are not content to rest on the progress The Club has experienced so far. They continue to collaborate on future changes to the menu at The Club and Stripes Pub, as well as to catering services.

"We are still thinking about what we can do," Zamora said. "What we don't want to do is get lazy in our planning. We always try to be creative."

With numbers up, on-base pizza delivery and new barbecue equipment on the horizon making a visit to The Club could be one New Year's resolution that you will keep.

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