Culinary Team 2017-12-07T23:23:04+00:00

Culinary Team



Executive Chef Jessica Cabo

Chef Jessica Cabo’s love of food began in her native Long Island, New York. Her family’s reverence for diverse ethnic dishes created the foundation of her “produce obsessed” vegetarian and seafood-centric menus. Cabo shops local, employs healthful cooking strategies, and utilizes select items grown in the Blockade Runner gardens. She arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1996 to attend UNCW. After college, she relocated to Venice Beach, California. Employed as a headhunter by day, by night, Cabo cooked. Gourmet meals for her friends lead to catering some rather eclectic affairs, where a lifetime of cultural influences impacted her style.

Cabo exploded onto the national cooking scene when she won a spot on the 1st season of Hell’s Kitchen. She made it into the final three despite having no formal training and never attending cooking school. Returning to North Carolina in 2012, Cabo spent the next four years as Executive Chef at CAM Cafe, the eatery at Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum. She joined the Blockade Runner team in the spring of 2016. Flavors from California, Mexico, Asia and the Mediterranean are seen in her presentations. “Map these countries on the globe, and map the places I’ve lived. You’ll see that all of them sort of line up along the 30th parallel. Not sure what that means, but it’s something to think about.” The Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach falls right in her “zone”.

Director of Food & Beverage Robert Astraikis

Robert Astraikis joined the team at EAST Oceanfront Dining in July of 2015. Transplanted to North Carolina from New York at the age of 12, he first worked at the Blockade Runner in the summer of 1991, as a line cook. Mr. Astraikis went back to New York to study at the Culinary Institute of America and upon graduation returned to pave a career in the state where he got his start. At Landfall Country Club, he cooked his way up from the line to Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director. After Landfall, he worked with the Circa Group for four years as the Corporate Chef. From there he traveled just South to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, taking on St. James Plantation in Southport, where he was Director of Food & Beverage for the entire facility for seven and a half years. Mr. Astraikis loves the restaurant industry because he likes to build teams and he likes problem solving. He is drawn to jobs in the one-of-a-kind and romantic places that provide a different experience every day.

For fun, Mr. Astraikis hikes. If he’s not at the Blockade Runner, he’s out walking somewhere. According to him, the best hiking in this area is Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC, right on the Cape Fear River. It’s the closest place where they actually have a hill. For flat hiking, the Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest is a fun winter hike, although, beware in the summer, lots of snakes and mosquitoes, as it’s a trail that goes through a heavily swamped area. His favorite place to hike in North Carolina is Linville Gorge.

When he eats out, he eats Indian. Indian is his favorite type of food.


Special Deals and Packages


Dining at Blockade Runner


Coastal Adventures




“Chef Jess at the resort restaurant is absolutely amazing! A must stay!”