By: Skip Fisher
Photos By: Julia Stapleton

When APPI Manager Lee Duncan called Jimmy Strickland in August 2020 to interview for the Executive Chef position, Jimmy couldn’t resist the opportunity, and, as they say, the rest is history.

In 2014, Jimmy, a North Carolina native, started as the opening chef and concept contributor for Hoppin’ Johnz, a beautiful, southern ingredients-driven restaurant in Elizabeth City. He also worked with the Old Colony Smokehouse on recipe and menu development and has been privileged to work with some of the best chefs in North Carolina.

At the AP Clubhouse, Chef Jimmy’s duties include recipe and menu development, ordering supplies, inventory tracking, and audits. He believes training is his most critical job—building the knowledge, skills, and confidence of the Food and Beverage team. He serves as the main point of contact for all events, while supported by the Clubhouse Chef de Cuisine, Corderra Parker, who is responsible for day-to-day kitchen management and plays a key role in staff training and the development of a la carte and event menus.

Chef Jimmy’s routine activities include client and member meetings, event estimates and contracts, inventory pricing updates, costing and ordering for the daily and weekly specials, as well as for a la carte menus. Like the other AP amenity managers, he works with General Manager Lee Duncan to prepare budget submissions for Food and Beverage needs, a planning process that started in September.

Chef Jimmy’s philosophy is that the best food is simple. It relies on the quality of ingredients and the cook’s attention to food preparation detail. He says, “Whatever the concept, whatever the menus I develop, I make sure that they can be executed well. I build internal systems so that every guest can depend on the same quality every time and ensure the systems align with consistency, purchasing specs, production, flavor profile, presentation, and service. Guest trust is hard to earn and very easy to lose.”

Regarding the sources of food, most products are ordered from US Foods and the grains come from Anson Mills in South Carolina. The team prides itself on ordering items on an as-needed basis to prepare the freshest products for the guests.

Clubhouse challenges include food supplies, front of-house staffing, and sufficient seating space for various events. To ensure pleasing and comfortable inside events, the seating limit is about 100 guests, although Albemarle Plantation, as a frequent wedding destination, often has to accommodate more than 100 guests.

When asked about the kitchen’s ability to support larger events, Chef Jimmy said AP served over 400 guests at the July 4th picnic this year, an event that required about a week’s preparation. “I’ve always believed that your employees should not struggle to do their job well,” he says. “Rather, you always give them the proper tools—it’s a very wise investment.”

Albemarle Plantation is very fortunate to also have Dockside for on-site dining when the Clubhouse Restaurant is reserved for special activities. Dockside has always been busy, but especially this year with the installation of the Marra Forni pizza oven. As expected, there has been an increase in the number of diners at Dockside, and it presents an important opportunity to expand the hours for dining. While there are no plans to enlarge the “footprint” of Dockside, remodeling options are being developed, and they will be evaluated for need and feasibility. Chef Jimmy says, “I truly believe that Dockside could become the premier restaurant at Albemarle Plantation.”

Chef Jimmy is a solid family man, and nothing makes him happier than being with his wife and kids and doing activities together! Michelle, his wife and
rock, is a nurse practitioner with Surf Pediatrics in Kitty Hawk. His two daughters, Paisley and Ansley, attend the Northeast Academy for Aerospace & Advanced Technologies (NEAAT) in Elizabeth City, a school focused on a STEM curriculum and related career fields. Hailey, their Boston terrier, is the family’s best friend.