He took over as executive chef at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes just in time for Taste of the Town in October 2007. It was about Chef Clark's second day on the job, and there he was putting out hundreds of samples of Curry Shrimp and Coconut Rice. He and his team earned the People's Choice Award for Best Entrée.
Since then he has changed the menu at WaterScapes, a wonderfully comfortable and upscale waterfront restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway in Myrtle Beach. Diners are seeking out the restaurant and making special trips there whether or not they’re guests at the inn.
This is actually Chef Clark’s second spin around the Grand Strand dining scene. The Orangeburg native worked in Charleston-area restaurants and discovered he likes the culinary life, and then attended and graduated from New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. That’s where he met his pastry chef wife, Marcey.
After school the couple headed back to the warm life in New Orleans, then Atlanta, and then in Charleston when James was executive sous-chef for Louis Osteen at the Charleston Grill. When he came to Vidalia's at the Radisson (which is now the Sheraton) Convention Center Hotel in Myrtle Beach, it was his first time as executive chef.
For two years Chef Clark cooked his simple “less is more” style of Lowcountry cuisine, and enjoyed living near his extended family. “I really learned a lot of things [at Vidalia’s],” he says, “like more on how to run a business, run a restaurant.”
However, in 2004 when the opportunity was presented to be executive chef at the then two-month-old Palette, a restaurant/art gallery in the Madison Hotel, he accepted the challenge. He and Marcey and their daughter headed north.
“In D.C., a culinary revolution is happening there,” he says. “It’s on par with any town, a culinary destination. It was humbling to be there in such a great restaurant and have that opportunity.”
The next stop on the D.C. tour was as chef de cuisine at DC Coast Restaurant, and then the family moved to Colorado. James was executive chef at Isle of Capri and Colorado Central Station, a casino that needed its menu updated.
After 18 months that mission was accomplished. The Clarks were happy when an old friend with whom Clark worked at Palette, Axel Suray, called and said he was looking for a chef. Suray had moved away from Washington D.C. and was then vice president at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes.
So the Clark family moved back to the beach and back near family. They live in Carolina Forest and when Chef Clark is not working he: hunts ducks, deer, turkey, & quail , fishes, works in the garden, hangs out and spends time with his wife & daughters.