HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Pieter Schepp has served former president George H. Bush, Kuwaiti royalty, and celebrities such as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Osmonds and Minnie Pearl, during his 25 years as an executive chef and manager for the worldwide Marriott Corporation. But he says serving the military at Hunter Army Airfield is the highlight of his career.

Schepp said that 9/11 changed his perspective on life and our nation. After the terrorist attacks, he began to search for ways to give back to this country and the servicemembers who defend it.

In Feb. 2009, that avenue of service opened. After traveling the globe throughout his career, Schepp finally left the corporate world and settled at Hunter to become at Hunter Club's new manager.

"If I were younger I would have joined (the military)," he said. "But this is the next best thing. I'm thrilled to serve the men and women in uniform as the Hunter Club manager."

Hunter leaders are please with his performance, according to feedback given to him recently.

Since he's taken charge, the club has hosted several large events under his direction- including an exceptionally large farewell dinner for the recently departed garrison commander, followed by large reception for incoming garrison commander, Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar.

"Pieter brings lots of experience and professionalism to the Hunter Club," said Kewyn Williams, Hunter Army Airfield deputy garrison commander. "He's got a 'can do' attitude and works hard at finding ways to serve Service Members, their Families and civilians. We're grateful to have him."

As the middle child of eight, and a resident of New York, Schepp has three field-related degrees: a food service administration degree from Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y.; a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.; and a business administration degree from Barrington University in Mobile, Ala.

He is also a certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation, a prestigious title in the culinary world. He's managed specialty restaurants, worked as a sous-chef and an executive chef. In his position at Duke University Medical Center, he prepared upscale catering for VIPs and served as many as 10,000 customers in a single day.

"I appreciate my bosses giving me the liberty to operate the Hunter Club as my own business," he said. There are parameters and limitations, but he said he plans to work at expanding catering services to special Soldier and civilian events on post at a competitive price.

"I'd like to offer fish fries at Lott's Island and serve food outside the club at special gatherings of servicemembers and spouses."

"The bottom line is, I don't want potential customer walking out the door. I'd rather drop the price than lose the customer. To make money, you have to remain realistic about what people will pay."

Schepp is also realistic about what people want for lunch. He's expanded the club's lunch menu and plans to add seasonal food in the near future.

Other changes include: no more buffet-line monitoring since "adults can be trusted to make responsible decision about the food they take."

Beer and wine have also been added to the lunch menu. "Now patrons can order a wine cooler at lunch if they like."

Schepp credits the Hunter Club staff for its success but claims a challenge of the job is retaining good staff. He hopes consistency and fairness as a manager will entice them to stay, along with working in a top-notch facility, federal benefits for those who qualify, and for many, an hourly salary they wouldn't get at many establishments outside the gates.

Schepp has looked outside the gates to see the competition close to Hunter. He's also ventured into the Savannah community to see what the city has to offer to him personally. He's joined the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and is already a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

He's also looked around on post. As a water lover, he said he's pleased to discover DMWR's equipment rental facility at Lott's Island, the pool at Tominac Fitness Center and other facilities at Hunter that he plans to utilize.

"Having fun is important," he said, adding that he tries to do that with patrons and staff daily. "You must have 'people skills' in the restaurant industry to succeed," he said. "I like people, and I try to joke around with them and put them as ease."

If you would like to meet Schepp for yourself, contact him at 437-7927 to discuss catering, breakfast and lunch services, happy hour gatherings, event ideas, or other Hunter Club services. He looks forward to meeting you.