With many additions to the lunch and dinner menu, we also wanted to introduce and give a background for our wonderful chefs!
Executive Chef Michael Meeks comes from a long family line of cooks & Chefs. Starting his career as his mothers dishwasher at the Holiday Inn locally here in Orange Park he learned how to run a kitchen from the ground up. After serving a mission for his church he found himself in Portland Oregon. This is where he decided to turn his passion for cooking into a career by enrolling in The Oregon Culinary Institute a cordon bleu cooking school. After school he was able to cook with some of the best Chefs in the Pacific Northwest! After honing his skills, he was made an Executive Chef at Alforno’s in Downtown Portland. Eventually making his way to Executive Chef of The World Trade Club. He found himself cooking for international dignitaries and stage & screen stars. With all the hustle and bustle of the big city he decided to move his young family to the beautiful Oregon Coast. This is where he mastered his technique of cooking seafood, utilizing the fresh seafood and incorporating local fruits and vegetables to expand his dishes.
Family is one of the most important things the Chef Mike. When his parents moved back to Florida he had to follow! Arriving with no prospects before coming to the Sunshine State, he was offered the first job he applied for. He became the Executive Sous Chef at the Omni Jacksonville. This is where he would spend his first 8 years in Florida. Wanting to run his own kitchen again he became the Executive Chef for the Double Tree Hilton next to the Jacksonville Airport. This is where Jacksonville started to know what they had in town. Receiving rave reviews and write-ups in local magazines. He has been blessed with so many opportunities along his career. His biggest blessing was finding Magnolia Point!! It became a blessing that he would share with his family as his wife and both of his daughters were able to join him. Always showing his love through his cooking, he strives to make his culinary dishes a delectable experience.
Sous Chef Darren Martin was born in Baltimore, Maryland and at the age of 14 started his culinary career working as a cook at a local upscale restaurant. He attended Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina and while studying, he worked at the historical Vendue Inn. Upon graduation, he moved back to Baltimore and gained 7 years’ fine dining experience as a Sous Chef for the Country Fare Restaurant Group. He decided it was time to go back to Charleston and worked as the Executive Sous Chef at Wild Dunes Resort and then Chef De Cuisine at the Daniel Island Club. Eleven years later, Darren and his family moved to Florida and he became part of the Magnolia Point Country Club family in late February.
Chef Juha Heino graduated from Salo Culinary Institute in 1983 and mastered Finnish cuisine to include seafood and game. Juha has been at Magnolia Point since November 2020, prior to being with us; he worked at The Commodore in Beverly, Massachusetts, Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport, and Ipswitch Country Club & Adelynrood Retreat Center. Juha loves to cook and make people happy.
Chef James Vann was born and raised in Clay County. A graduate of Middleburg High School, he started working in his first restaurant at the age of 18, just after completing his senior year. After working in several local seafood and BBQ restaurants, he developed a passion for cooking. Currently at the age of 23, he has been a chef at Magnolia Point for one year now, and is continuing to grow his skill set everyday from the help of his talented coworkers. Outside of the kitchen, James enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching his favorite TV show, “the Office” or playing the video game, “World of Warcraft”.
Kitchen Assistant Jamie Meeks, following in her family’s footsteps she has found a passion for the culinary arts. In the beginning she started as a dishwasher for Magnolia Point but now has moved up the ranks. Listening and learning from those around her she has developed good fundamental techniques. She enjoys making the desserts for the Magnolia Point Menu. Her favorite is Sushi Night for Wine Down Wednesday. This is where she gets to share her creative side. At just 17 years old, she looks forward to the future and the next adventure.