Chef Jamie Daskalis

Growing Up:

When I was growing up, I spent the majority of my time in one of my father’s restaurants in New York.  Running behind the counter and probably being in everyone’s way, but that is beside the point. So it was only natural, when I finished high school, to head into the world of food. Since my older brother had just finished his degree in culinary arts, I decided it would be better if I held the degree in baking and pastry arts. Looking back, we should have swapped; my brother prefers to bake and I prefer to cook. But anyway, after I graduated, my father sent me to work at his smallest restaurant.  A breakfast-and-lunch joint in the heart of the city of Middletown called Coney Island.

After taking some time to learn the boring stuff like accounting, inventory, and scheduling.  I moved on to the fun stuff: the menu. Quickly learning that my background in baking was not going to be enough to get this menu where I envisioned it going.  So I got to work, I had a lot to learn.  I drew inspiration from everywhere: cookbooks, websites, TV, my favorite celebrity chefs, and a lot of trial and error. Slowly but surely, word was getting out and the customers were pouring in to try my new dishes.

Moving to Myrtle Beach:

After a few years at Coney Island, I decided it was time to move on. Closing the book on our life in New York and getting ready for my new adventure was extremely stressful.  But I knew I was doing the right thing for me and my son. So off we went to Myrtle Beach. In the months leading up to opening the new restaurant in South Carolina, it felt like I was running and I was not getting anywhere—it was intense.

I had a vision for the menu at Johnny D’s, and it was extensive. Anyone that has been to Johnny D’s knows that this is no exaggeration: so many recipes needed to be tested and retested, costed out, and photographed that by the end of it I was exhausted. It was all worth it though because after just a few years, we were well-known in Myrtle Beach and around the country as a top local restaurant.

Along the way, I realized something. I realized that the food in a restaurant is not the most important thing. It’s the experience and the relationship with the customers that is most important. I want everyone that comes here to feel important, like they are part of something, part of our family. Every day in between orders, you can find me in the dining room speaking to our guests and asking about their experience to make sure that they’re excited and loving their time here with us.

Autism Advocacy:

In addition to my work in the culinary field, I’m also a strong advocate for autism awareness. My son James was diagnosed at age three with autism spectrum disorder.  Since then I have made it a top priority to do whatever I can to help him and other children like him, anyway that I can.

I have committed to help raise money for two local organizations from Myrtle Beach. SOS Health Care provides help to families across the Grand Strand with ABA therapy services, adult training programs, summer camps, social programs, sensory-friendly events, and more.  Champion Autism Network is working to make the Grand Strand an autism-friendly travel and living destination. Bringing awareness and understanding to the struggles and beauty of people with autism.

Every day in April, Autism Awareness Month, we do a social media campaign where we feature a child on the spectrum on our Facebook page. Every year, we reach more and more people. Folks from all over the country write in with an outpour of love and understanding—it’s so uplifting. Although life is crazy sometimes between work and his therapy schedule, he is the light of my life. He may only be five years old, but he has taught me so much. Most importantly, I have learned to look at the beauty within a person and that a little love and understanding can go a long way.

What’s Next:

My latest project that I have been working on for over 4 years if finally complete. My first cookbook Making It Delicious has been published. It has been a long time coming and I was so excited to sell out of the first shipment in under a month.  Now I have a fresh batch and they are waiting to land in your kitchen.  To learn more about Making It Delicious or to purchase you copy, click here.  Next up, I am working with Creative Foods out of Charleston, South Carolina to bottle my very popular BBQ Sauce.  It should be available early to late spring.  This has been a very excited process and I can not wait to share it with you.  Until then, check out my blog and find some recipes I created for my everyday life or my TV segment on Fox TV, Carolina AM.

Thank you so much for visiting my site and taking the time to get to know me.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or to just say hello.

Come See Me:

Don’t forget to visit Johnny D’s Waffles the next time you visit Myrtle Beach.