By Patrick Yeagle

Island Bay Yacht Club has a new executive chef in James “Bo” Oliver.

A Springfield native, Oliver previously served as a sous chef at Illini Country Club and received his training from the Culinary Institute of America, located in Hyde Park, New York.

The club announced Oliver as its new chef on Facebook, saying his first day is March 27.

Bob Tregoning, general manager of Island Bay Yacht Club, says Oliver was a good candidate for executive chef because of his strong resume and his experience in the club business.

“Clubs and restaurants are different,” Tregoning said. “And Chef Bo has a nice resume of what I call higher-end cooking.”

Oliver was one of two finalists for the role, Tregoning says, and the club held a trial tasting dinner to decide between them.

“They were both very good,” he said. “Bo had a lot of depth, texture and taste that we really liked.”

Tregoning notes that executive sous chef Sam Nation remains with the club.

“Sam was instrumental in guiding the culinary team at Island Bay Yacht Club for the last nine months after the departure of the last executive chef,” Tregoning wrote in an announcement to the club’s members. “The leadership here at Island Bay Yacht Club is confident that the future looks very bright with these two at the helm.”

Oliver says this will be his first role as an executive chef, and he jokes that it’s as daunting as it is exciting. Before working at Illini Country Club, Oliver also worked at Pao Bistro and Maldaner’s Restaurant in Springfield. He says he has enjoyed his time at the country club because it allowed him to get to know his clients. He credits Mark Andrews, executive chef at Illini Country Club, with pushing him to grow.

“This is a natural progression,” Oliver said. “I’m pumped.”

Andrews has worked with Oliver for about four years. Andrews says Oliver has made the most of his time as a sous chef.

“He is a very talented young man that keeps pushing himself in new directions and trying different flavor combinations and presentations,” Andrews said. “I would call him a mad scientist, as he is always playing with food, and he helped stimulate my culinary excitement through his adventures.”

Andrews credits Oliver with a mild disposition and a sharp mind that solves issues before they happen, “as it seems he can see the future.”

“I look forward to watching him develop,” Andrews said. “This young man will go places in this industry. Mark my words.”

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