Sous Chef Jimmy Holland Is Casa D'Angelo's Secret Ingredient

Towering above patrons and staff with a benevolent smile, Jimmy Holland is not easy to miss. Decked out in his personalized white coat and black backward cap, the sous chef is seen in the open kitchen prep stations, tasting sauces and concocting new recipes. Although he's friendly with customers and most regulars know him by name, he usually stays behind the scenes.

He may not be as recognized as head chef and restaurant namesake Angelo Elia, but Holland has worked tirelessly for the past 15 years at Casa D'Angelo and become an integral ingredient in the Italian eatery's longstanding success.

See also: Peter Pan Diner's Debi Benninger Has Been Serving People Her Whole Life

Born in Philadelphia, Holland used to watch his grandmother and mother cook in their rustic kitchen. It instilled in him an urge to pursue cooking professionally, and he was the first of his family of commercial fishermen to attend culinary school.

After moving to Florida, Holland worked as a general manager at a restaurant for a few years and then at a country club in Boca. He moved seasonally between New Jersey and Florida between the contradicting peak seasons. The aspiring chef would eventually move to Bon Appetit on Commercial Boulevard, where he familiarized himself with Italian cuisine. And then in 1998, he began working as sous chef at Casa D'Angelo one month after it opened. He marked his name in the wet cement outside where it was seen until recent outdoor renovations.

"I stumbled across the story in the newspaper of Casa D'Angelo's opening," Holland says. "It was one month after it opened, and I wanted to check it out. Angelo was skeptical about hiring me at first, but he did."

And for the past 15 years, Holland has diligently excelled at his job. He comes into the eatery at 1 p.m. every day, then checks the fish, makes the soup, preps the sauces, and starts cooking side dishes. If there is a lull, which in the reservations-recommended restaurant rarely happens, Holland enjoys tweaking new recipes to perfection.

"I have high standards, and I like good stuff now after working here," Holland boasts. "I don't stop at McDonald's and Burger King anymore. Denny's is also out. I find that even after a long day, I prefer to cook for myself."

Since the sous chef works until close, he doesn't get home most nights until very late. But when he isn't at work, which is hardly ever when the restaurant is open, Holland enjoys to go out to eat at other restaurants and learn from their menu. At home, he has two pug dogs, a tuxedo cat, and an African gray parrot that repeats everything he says. To relax, he watches cooking shows on Netflix before he goes to bed.

"I get amped up after watching cooking shows," Holland says, wide-eyed. "Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef-- those are my favorite."

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson