As the centerpiece for one of Alabama’s largest neighborhoods, the Riverchase Country Club (RCC) continues its pursuit to ‘raise the bar’ in the food and beverage areas of the club with original menu items crafted by new Executive Chef Jonathan Scoggins, aka “Chef Johnny”. Since his hire in October, Chef Johnny has been working hard with the staff to reach new heights to please the palates of both members and their guests.
Chef Johnny grew up in Alabaster with parents who loved to cook, so when a severe knee injury ended his football career in high school, Scoggins changed gears and decided to attend Jefferson State Community College’s new Culinary & Hospitality Institute and become a chef. While at Jeff. State, he learned the magic and prestige that comes with working in a professional kitchen, which he now delivers at the RCC, using his French and Mediterranean expertise, as well as his personal precision and passion for new flavors.
In the seven months that Chef Johnny has been at RCC, he has already introduced some of those new flavors. Working closely with the staff, he’s made a ton of improvements, creating a more upscale presentation with better quality foods. Some of these improvements can be seen with the launch of the newly designed Grill menu, introducing new dishes like his “Boom Boom Shrimp” and his signature shrimp and grits.
“Sandwiches and salads have also stepped up,” he explains. “The entire menu has changed, so there has been lots of training. The guys I have [in the kitchen] are really good.” His goal is to make the food and beverage areas of the club more profitable so equipment and presentation can be upgraded even more within in the next year or so. In April, Chef Johnny plans to continue making changes, starting with revamping the menus again, including the Dining Room and Banquet selections, cross promoting different dishes throughout to increase variety and efficiency.
When asked about his experience at RCC so far, he commented on how the members are close-knit and like family, and how everyone has been good about giving positive feedback on the menus, getting involved and offering suggestions. “I am 100% truly invested in RCC,” he says. “I love working in country clubs, and I enjoy any and all feedback, so I’d like to invite everyone to come out, try the food and tell me what you think.”
John Cargill, General Manager at RCC, is excited about the new dishes and flavors that Chef Johnny has introduced, using more fresh foods, streamlining food purchasing and making things more economical for the club. He appreciates how Scoggins has worked side by side with the staff to help them with presentation, and how they have enjoyed the learning process. “Chef Johnny,” says Cargill, “is energetic and excited daily to create smiles on the faces of our members and guests.”
If you haven’t eaten at the Riverchase Country Club, or it’s been awhile since you’ve gone, stop in sometime, whether you’re a member or a resident, and check out what the new Executive Chef has cooked up. I actually had the opportunity to try his “Smothered House-Cut Twisted Chips”, one of the new menu items from the Grill, and I have to say that this creative dish of homemade twisted potato chips, covered with bacon, cheese sauce, chopped tomatoes and green onions, may very well be my new addiction. They were incredibly good, in a portion sized to share.
For more information on Chef Johnny, dining and banquets or residential privileges and membership at Riverchase Country Club, call 205-988-4140.
Article and photo by Teth Lee.