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Meet the Chefs Behind the Carolina Cuisine at Carowinds

Ashlyn Hunter |
February 5, 2022

Located on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, Carowinds boasts delicious cuisine paying homage to each state. From traditional comfort classics to fair food with a twist, there is something for everyone’s appetite.

Behind this cuisine is a dedicated team of food and beverage associates who work daily to ensure guests are satisfied with every meal. Carowinds has one executive chef, John Loukas, and two sous’ chefs, Calious Berry and Jeremy Mannix, and together they create and execute new authentic menu items and ensure high quality and excellent service to our guests.

 

 

John Loukas, Carowinds’ executive chef, was born and raised in Queens, New York. The ‘big apple’ is where he began his culinary journey, studying culinary arts and restaurant management at the Art Institute of America in Manhattan. Over the years, Loukas has worked as a chef for many popular entertainment venues such as Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre located in Colorado, the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. 

What sparked your passion for food?

“I was pretty much raised in the food and beverage industry. I have memories as young as six-years-old making milkshakes in my dad and uncle’s coffee shop in New York City.”

What is your favorite food item at Carowinds?

“I am split between two menu items. The rotisserie chicken at Blue Ridge Country Kitchen - reminds me of Pio Pio, a famous Peruvian-style rotisserie place back in New York. Fair Fries, because who doesn’t love a fresh, crispy, salty French fry, especially when you get to load it up with all the fixings.”

What do you like about being on the food and beverage team at Carowinds?

“Every day is a different day, with a new, challenging event or a new concept roll-out. We are always looking for new food items to WOW our guests.”

What advice would you give someone who dreams of becoming a chef?

“Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”

“If you want to become a Chef, you cannot only be curious or interested in food and cooking. You must have an absolute, burning desire in your heart and soul. It takes a special breed of human to do what we do daily. Most importantly, when you’re deciding to venture down this career path, you must ‘appreciate the journey’ and remember ‘this is what we do!’”

 

 

Calious Berry is the newest member of the food and beverage team at Carowinds, joining the group as sous chef on January 10. Berry’s mother inspired him to pursue a culinary career, after watching her cook throughout his childhood. Prior to joining the Carowinds team, Berry worked at the Lower.com Field, home of the Colombus Crew, in Colombus, Ohio.

Why did you want to work at Carowinds?

“I wanted a place where I could work with more people and guests every day.”

Which Carowinds food item are you most excited to try?

“I definitely want to try the candied bacon during WinterFest.”

Which Carowinds ride are you most excited to experience?

“Fury 325! I have never been a guest at Carowinds. It has actually been almost 20 years since I have visited an amusement park, and that was in California at Knott’s Berry Farm.”

 

 

After attending culinary school, Jeremy Mannix, sous chef, joined the amusement industry at the start of his career. His experience includes working at the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld Orlando before joining the Carowinds team. Mannix was also inspired by his mother leading this career path. He fondly remembers watching Food Network while other kids were outside playing tag.

What do you like about being on the food and beverage team at Carowinds?

“We all challenge and balance each other with different strengths and opportunities to push the envelope. We all bring something different and unique to the table.”

What is your favorite food item at Carowinds?

“I think we do a really great job with our barbeque and traditional sides like mac ‘n’ cheese or collards. It just really feels like I am home.”

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a chef?

“There will be good days and bad days, but just remember, you can always go scream in the walk-in cooler.”

 

How to Make The Works Funnel Cake at Home

Recently, Carowinds’ Instagram followers were asked a fun question: if you could have one recipe from the park, what would it be? An overwhelming majority of fans answered, “funnel cake.”

Our culinary team has delivered with the recipe. Here is a simple recipe to make The Works Funnel Cake at home:

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of funnel cake batter
  • 1 bottle of vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce of chocolate sauce
  • 1 ounce of caramel sauce
  • 0.5 ounce of powdered sugar
  • 1 ounce of strawberry glaze
  • 0.5 ounce of whipped topping

Directions:

  1. Start with a quality funnel cake mix like Krusteaz or Fun Pack Foods. Follow the instructions on the box of the selected brand to create a batter.
  2. Measure out all garnish ingredients: chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, powdered sugar, strawberry glaze or whipped topping. Or, add as much as you please.
  3. In a medium, deep-sided pan or pot, heat one inch of oil to 375 F over medium-high heat.
  4. Fry six ounces of the funnel cake batter until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and coat with powdered sugar.
  5. Add remaining garnish ingredients over the funnel cake and enjoy!

 

 

Purchasing a dining plan is the best way to experience our chef’s creations. Guests can add the All Season Dining plan to their 2022 Gold Pass to enjoy lunch and dinner every Carowinds visit.