What we eat and who makes our meals defines cultures, families, and traditions; food is the heart-of-the-house. Chef Mason has always been the center of family gatherings. Naturally, he always fed and cared for his family and friends through hospitality, fellowship, and food. Long before culinary school or the title Executive Chef, James was a natural leader, encouraging, motivating, and mentoring those around him. As Executive Chef, he harnesses this passion for empowering his team to accomplish their personal and professional goals. He truly believes in taking care of his team members and growing talented culinarians. As a result, his team is dedicated, loyal, hardworking and talented.
Chef James Mason has been feeding people long before he was an Executive Chef. James’ humble culinary beginnings can be traced back to a local pizza restaurant in Gainesville, Florida where he first began working in the restaurant industry. It’s been a long journey from pizza slapper to Executive Chef.
In his 20’s, James came to a crossroad: make food his life and career or switch directions entirely. Thank goodness for everyone who has since had tasted his dishes that he chose to be a culinarian. He attended and graduated culinary school in Orlando, Florida, during which he worked under Chef Donna Scala at La Luce.
Over the years, James has helped several local restaurants after finding themselves without a chef, but around 2013, he found himself on a path working in Florida country clubs. He was named Executive Chef at Citrus Hills Golf and Country Club where he revamped its menu, brought in locally grown produce, and enhanced its specials. Later, he joined Adena Golf and Country Club as Executive Chef, where he continues to create and work. He continuously strives to establish relationships with local artisans, farmers, fishermen, and growers to incorporate the highest quality ingredients into the menu, specials, and catering.
Chef James Mason finds his passion and inspiration through local ingredients. They serve as the building blocks of his dishes ensuring an ever-changing and always flavorful, delicious selection. Surprisingly, most restaurants don’t use ingredients to make food anymore.
Since 2013, Chef Mason has cared for affluent members at three high-end Florida country clubs and a premier destination Hilton property. Before leaving culinary school and since graduating, he gained experience providing fine dining and casual luxury. Chef Mason is experienced and confident at feeding and catering to elite membership. For example, as a personal request, Chef Mason cooked for actor, John Travolta, and his guests at his private home. Additionally, Chef Mason was requested and flown to Baltimore for the 2017 Preakness where he orchestrated and executed the feeding of over 5,000 VIP attendees spanning two days in the corporate VIP village, the Under Armour tent, and the Stonach Group tent. Also while there, he fulfilled the food delivery for the Draw Party and the Black Eyed Susan area located on the infield of the race track consisting of 3,000 affluent members. As an executive member of the team, he coordinated the execution of multiple banquets all operating at the same time or with considerable overlap.
Early in his career, Chef Mason realized the importance and necessity for standards, policies, and procedures in operating a high-end country clubhouse gourmet restaurant. He is experienced and passionate about creating, implementing, and ensuring processes and food standards. These are what ensure all products are consistently outstanding. Each time a member orders a menu item, it should and will be the same each time, reestablishing that powerful connection between taste and memory.
A customer service agent at heart, Chef Mason is outgoing, personable, and approachable. Interacting with members, guests, and other constituents is one of his greatest attributes. Relationships are the foundation of his success, and he knows the importance of meeting the needs and answering the questions of members, staff and leadership. Overall, Chef James Mason excels at what he does.