WHO WE ARE
Hampton Roads , Virginia natives and Johnson & Wales Alumni Chef Daryl Cooper and Chef Oscar Johnson founded Jimmy Pearls as a pop-up restaurant in Charlotte in March 2020. Inspired by the cooking of their family members and ancestors, both developed a food passion that tells a story about them and their pasts, while writing their own history.
Their menu is led by the traditions of African American culinary history and their family traditions rooted in Virginia and other regions of the U.S and the world. The Tidewater and Piedmont Foodways of Virginia is where they pull their inspiration, adding their culinary spins from these regions to traditional dishes on their menu.
Chef Daryl Cooper
Daryl Cooper moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Newport News, Virginia, where he started cooking at a young age because his mother didn't keep "grab and go" snacks readily available. While attending high school, he obtained several part-time Food Service jobs. After graduating high school, Cooper furthered his studies at Johnson & Wales University and received a Bachelor's degree in Food Service Management.
Throughout his 14 years of experience, Daryl's culinary jobs have ranged from casual dining at Chili's to fine dining at private clubs as a cook and sous chef. While working these jobs, his love for preparing and serving meals grew into a more significant project of his own intended to spark nostalgia and create new memories for those eating his food. In 2016, he launched "The Cookin Coop, " a food truck focusing on hand-breaded chicken sandwiches. After four fun years of "slinging birds," The Cookin' Coop Era ended its truck operation—his new business concept with Oscar Johnson, his business partner: Jimmy Pearls Virginia Soul Spot, is nurtured by his Virginian roots.
Chef Oscar Johnson
Oscar Johnson hails from Hampton, Virginia where his passion for cooking began at the age of 9, under the watchful eyes of his mother Jonne and his late grandmother Bertha who were phenomenal cooks in their own right. Oscar draws a lot of cooking inspiration from his family roots in Lawrenceville, Virginia, an area rich with food and agricultural history. Oscar's grandfather, Howard Hardy, and other extended family are all from this area.
In 2010, Oscar made the big move from Hampton Roads, VA to Charlotte, NC, to attend Johnson and Wales University. He'd graduate in 2014 with an Associates and Bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts and Foodservice Management. Since graduation, Oscar has worked in various settings to include country clubs, high volume eateries, and private catering for high profile clients. He is now ready to pay homage to Hampton Roads by cooking alongside his partner, Daryl Cooper II. Their partnership birthed Jimmy Pearls Virginia Soul Spot.