Executive Chef James “JP” Patterson sharpens his skills and finds inspiration by giving back.
If you're active on social media and follow McConnell Golf accounts, there’s a good chance you know — or at least know of — James “JP” Patterson, executive chef at Sedgefield Country Club and corporate executive chef for McConnell Golf. Whether he is touting his daughter’s Girl Scout cookies on Facebook or posting a close-up photo of an extraordinary dish on Instagram, JP educates and inspires online.
Through social media, JP’s followers also see many dishes that come out of other area kitchens. No, he isn’t cooking for a restaurant on the side; he’s very active in charitable cooking competitions and exhibitions across the state. These fundraisers bring much-needed dollarsto some great charities, put his skills to the test, and help JP spread the McConnell Golf name across the area.
While JP and other country club chefs have the opportunity to be creative in their own kitchens when writing new menus and planning specialized member events, an on-the-fly cooking competition provides an exciting platform to spread their wings.
“Outside of the charitable impact of these events, one of the greatest aspects is the opportunity to step outside of our comfort zone and get the creative juices flowing,” says JP. “With many of the ingredients being event-day surprises, we really have to focus on what we want to do and commit to it. From the items used, to the preparation and plating, there are a lot of variables to navigate in a very short period of time. It’s very exciting.”
In addition to the funds raised for worthy causes and his continued personal and professional development, JP enjoys meeting other local and regional chefs and helping expand their exposure in the area.
“Oftentimes, country club chefs are hidden away in their clubs, simply because they cook at member-only facilities. Whereas a chef at a popular local restaurant, for example, the opportunity to cook for new people night in and night out. Sometimes we as country club chefs can get bogged down in our routines. I love our members and I enjoy cooking their favorites, but it helps me to be at my best to think outside of the box every now and then. I enjoy bringing those experiences back and implementing them at Sedgefield and most importantly I think our members benefit also.”
While JP has impressively flexed his culinary muscle in past events, winning some or finishing near the top in others, perhaps the one he was most excited about was the Chef’s Showcase — a kick-off event for the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington in January. JP is originally from Wilmington, where he got his start in the culinary arts business.
“I have not really had an opportunity to cook in Wilmington since I left in 2001, so it was great to see so many familiar faces and to have my Mom and other family members and friends attend. It was just a great experience. I cannot wait to hopefully be invited back in the future.”