VANDALIA — As winter turns to spring and business picks up at Cassel Hills Golf Course, long time patrons will notice a fixture at the course for most of the past 41 years isn’t around as much.
Kelley Huston, who has served or cooked at the course beginning in 1977 and, with one break, has been at the course ever since, is retiring. January 31 was Huston’s last day of full-time employment and, fittingly, was the day of the Rotary Club luncheon she has served for decades.
There’s a silver lining, however. Huston’s “retirement” is only going to last the state-mandated 60 days. She plans to return to the course April 1 in a part-time capacity.
“I can’t retire and sit around and be a bump on the couch,” Huston said. “I was going to look for a part-time job anyway, so this way I can come back here help them with their functions and outings and still only be part-time because they won’t have something every day.”
Huston said she was thrown into cooking for large groups and learned as she went but leaned on lessons learned while watching her mom.
“My mom was a good cook,” she said. “She worked for Henger’s here in Vandalia for 22 years and most of the time I watched her at home. I have a few of her recipes that I use.”
One of those recipes is her barbecue ribs, a recipe she won’t share with anyone. For the most part, however, Huston says she cooks without recipes.
“Someone asked me today how I knew something I was baking would be good and I told them I wouldn’t until it was done,” she said. “I just do it.”
For Huston, fulfillment comes from other people’s enjoyment.
“I get satisfaction from knowing someone enjoys what they are eating and that I can put out a decent meal with what I have to work with here,” said Huston referring to the limited kitchen at the golf course. “There is satisfaction in knowing people are happy.”
Huston said she hopes to spend more time camping with her husband.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.