INSIDE: The Best Restaurants, Chefs and Sustainable Culinary Arts on 30-A
DINING I S S U E A N N UA L
Food by Restaurant Paradis
l e t t e r f r o m t h e p u b l i s h e r
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Miles K. Neiman
THE CONNECTION OF DINING
Managing Editor Jennifer Thompson
2020 has undoubtedly been one of the world’s most challenging years in a long time. Let’s hope 2021 brings us more solutions and connections to what we love most. Family, friends, and security. Now, more than ever, we can appreciate the importance of one of life’s greatest and most simple pleasures. Dining out. A good meal out gives us a sense of relaxation, connection, and excitement. The artistry of a good chef, combined with fresh ingredients and proper execution is nourishing to our soul. As we enter into a new, fresh year, we bring you some of 30-A’s greats. We hope you enjoy trying out these fantastic culinary gems of 30-A as much as we have. Let’s all hope for better days ahead. And let’s celebrate our greatest gift: Connection to each other and celebrating life’s simple pleasures. Bon Apetito,
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dining Black Bear Bar......................................11 Bud & Alley’s........................................12 Capt. Anderson’s..................................14 Destin Ice Market..................................16 Edward’s Fine Food and Wine.................18 FOOW................................................20
chef profiles Drew Dzejak.........................................35 Kyle Swift..............................................36 Tim Williams.........................................38 goodwill Seaside School Half Marathon & 5k.......40
Lola Coastal Italian...............................21 Mr. Gyro Hero......................................22 Plate to Plate........................................24 Prema Organic Café.............................26 Restaurant Paradis.................................28 Southern Belle Catering.........................30 The Great Southern Café.......................32
Food by Pescado
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Food by Bud & Alley’s
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Black Bear Bar b y A n d y B u t c h e r
T ake a little New York City trendi- ness, mix in a splash of West Coast style, and zest with some gold old Southern spice, and you end up with the fresh taste of Black Bear Bread Co.’s dis- tinctive Bar Room. In a relatively short time, the wine bar/light eatery, tucked away in the Shops of Grayton at Grayton Beach, has seen its profile rise as satisfy- ingly as the signature sourdough pulled from the nearby bakery that started the whole Black Bear thing. What began a few years ago as a bit of an experiment by Phil McDonald, then chef at long-time 30-A restaurateur Dave Rauschkolb’s Seaside Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar, has since morphed into an ever- evolving Black Bear Bread Co. brand that has earned the co-owners a number of foodie plaudits in the business’s short four-year history.
Oysters on the Half Shell
Dave Rauschkolb and Phillip McDonald
There is a $10 corkage fee, but bottles (starting at $17) sell at retail price and come with hand-written staff recommendation tags like you’d find in a bookstore. The wines may come from afar, but most everything else is sourced as locally as possible. Bread from next door, of course. Then seafood from the Gulf and grass- fed beef for the 7 oz. burger from a farm in Chipley. With its emphasis on fresh-prepared—the oysters are shucked in plain view right behind the u-shaped bar, where many of the other offerings are also plated—the menu is seasonal and tweaked almost daily. Customer favorites include clam toast, beef carpaccio, and snapper ceviche. Lest anyone fear that it’s all a bit too frou-frou, there’s also bottles of Miller and Budweiser available in addition to some regional crafts. “Just to let people know we’re not that bougie,” McDonald says with a chuckle. Bypassing culinary school, McDonald developed his distinctive culinary in the kitchen trenches. His resulting guiding philosophy: don’t overdo it. “Over time, you learn to take away,” he says, “strip it to what it is so you can taste, otherwise it’s gray.” Having finally perfected good bread at Rauschkolb’s Grayton Beach events catering location, the pair began selling it at Seaside’s Farmers Market. With increasing demand, they decided to open a breakfast and lunch cafe just a few steps from the ovens, at The Shops at Grayton, in 2017. With its fresh-baked goodies and Stumptown Coffee Roasters quality java, it soon became an early morning favorite for locals and visitors alike. The partners extended into the neighboring unit in 2019, debuting their Bar Room. Meanwhile, they were
Among them was a spot in Southern Living Magazine’s “The South’s Best Bars 2020” for the Bar Room. That nod came for the way, in a crowded local food scene, the location has carved out a creative niche with its focus on natural wines, tasty shareables, and a relaxed vibe. Sparely accented with striking black and gold, the white-walled space is available for private events, with wine tastings also on offer, and there’s live music three nights a week. The Bar Room brings together an eclectic set of influences from now-executive chef McDonald’s kitchen career, which took him from Brooklyn to San Francisco and New Orleans before returning to the Emerald Coast—he’s a Destin boy—to work with former surfing buddy Rauschkolb. Ask him to sum up the result of all those elements at the Bar Room and he will give you a suitably one-word answer: minimalist. The less-is-more approach is evident from the biodynamic wines, through the unfussy plates, cheeseboards and charcuterie, to the striking but simple décor. “Elegant without being stuffy,” he says. Championing the emerging natural wines market, the Bar Room has some 70 bottles on its list, sourced from across Europe and the United States. “We look for the winemaker’s story and their practices—dry vineyards, no irrigation,” McDonald explains. “It’s not just about the environment, though, it’s also about the result. Natural wines are less ‘overdone’,” he says. “They don’t mess with it; it’s basically grapes, fermented. You’re getting the true product.”
Wine & Champagne Offerings
also adding another Black Bear cafe location at Grand Boulevard, Destin; it opened last year, though space limitations there preclude Bar Room features and hours. Last year’s enforced COVID-19 shutdown gave McDonald and Rauschkolb the chance to catch their breath and review their fast-growing Black Bear partnership, whose name recognizes their first satisfied “customer”—the black bear who raided the bakery’s trash bins for its trashed leaven. During the closure they added a covered outside deck that doubled the Bar Room’s seating capacity, introducing extended evening hours when things opened up again in the summer. In keeping with the business’s fast-moving history, there are further expansion plans afoot. At time of writing these included a Bar Room spin-off in the area, somewhere McDonald foresaw as “a little more culinary- forward, more kitchen-cooked.” Black Bear Bread Co. Bar Room, 26 Logan Lane, Unit G, Grayton Beach, FL 32459, www.blackbearbreadco. com, (850) 213-4528, email@example.com Hours: Sunday: Closed, Monday-Wednesday: 11a.m. to 9pm., Thursday-Saturday: 11a.m. to 10p.m.. No reservations
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Growing on the Gulf Bud & Alley’s Restaurant Set to Unveil its Expansion in Seaside b y Te s s F a r m e r
Bud & Alley’s Crab Cakes
Grilled Gulf Fish of the Day
Our goal is to bring more of the sweeping Gulf views and open-air dining that our guests love and appreciate. A fter 35 years in Seaside, Bud and Alley’s Water- front Restaurant and Bar is undergoing a major enhancement project and unveiling improve- ments, including an expansive rooftop deck this summer. Whether just coming off the beach for a crab cake at lunch, celebrating a milestone life event, or a toast with friends at sunset, generations of visitors and locals alike have been making memories at the iconic restaurant anchoring Seaside’s commercial district on the south side of Highway 30-A. “Our loyal customers keep returning year after year and we are always looking for ways to give back to them in the ways of atmosphere and fresh coastal cuisine,” says owner Dave Rauschkolb. Bud & Alley’s was one of the first and is now among the few beachfront fine dining options along Highway 30A. It’s a beloved institution that over the years has helped make Seaside what it is today. Improvements and expansion of the building include a bell tower with elevator, ten new restrooms, upgraded roof deck, and a road-side portion of the restaurant providing a new vantage point looking out and over the town center. Noted author and former town architect Dhiru Thadani of Seaside completed the design of the project with a focus on incorporating the old with the new. Rauschkolb has expanded his restaurant business as the town of Seaside has grown. He and business partner Scott Witcotski established Bud & Alley’s in the early days of the burgeoning coastal community’s development in the 80s. The restaurant opened in January of 1986 and was named for Seaside founder Robert Davis’s dachshund and Witcotski’s cat. The restaurant soon developed a loyal following that continues today, three decades later. “It’s been an incredible opportunity to be a part of the fabric of Seaside and our local community here,” says Rauschkolb. He adds that the restaurant’s expansion
Bud & Alley’s Baked Oysters
project, which includes addition- al dining space on the roof deck and the lookout bell tower, wasn’t necessarily to make room for more guests but to enhance the Bud & Alley’s experience and provide new vantage points to the Gulf and overlooking Central Square. “The customer experi- ence on the roof deck will be much improved because you’ll be able to sit at the bar and look out over the Gulf,” Rauschkolb says. “Our goal is to bring more of the sweeping Gulf views and open-air dining that our guests love and appreciate.” An additional 850 square feet has been added to the dining area upstairs, providing more room and views of central square to the north side of 30-A as well as the Gulf of Mexico. The road-side portion of the restaurant will offer a grab-and-go extension of Bud & Alley’s. Rauschkolb and his team’s devotion to farm- and sea-to-table dining extends to two other casual eateries overlooking the Gulf in Seaside. The Pizza Bar’s authentic stylings of wood-fired artisan pizza pies are direct from the cucina’s of Italy, while the Taco Bar’s fresh flavors and funky vibe are reminiscent of the authentic taquerias on the Mexican border. The Taco Bar has also expanded to include more kitchen space and a wrap- around roadside bar.
Photos by Alissa Aryn Photography
As much as things have grown and changed in Seaside and along 30-A, many things remain constant at Bud & Alley’s, including the fresh local seafood (the crab cakes being the gold standard), ice-cold cocktails, and friendly atmosphere. A longstanding tradition is the ringing of a cast-iron bell from an 1888 steam train each day at sunset; the bell will be housed in the new bell tower. “Our motto from day one has been good
Dave Rauschkolb Photo by Marla Carter Photography
food, good people, good times,” Rauschkolb says. “And it still rings true almost 35 years later. We’re looking forward to the next three decades.” The Bud & Alley’s team is also made up of Chief of Operations Michael Broadway and Executive Chef David Bishop. Rauschkolb credits their unwavering dedication and leadership for the continued success of the restaurant. Bud & Alley’s is open daily for lunch and dinner. It supports local farmers and fisherman, including GreenMan’s Garden, Covey Rise Farms, WaterStreet Seafood, Cool Fish Seafood, and Louisiana Lagniappe. For more information and to make reservations visit budandalleys.com or call (850) 231-5900.
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Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant & Waterfront Market Landmark Restaurant Continues to Celebrate Milestones Alongside Generations of Customers and Friends b y Te s s F a r m e r
Patronis is also involved in the daily operations and is the restaurant’s resident wine sommelier. “There’s the Cap-
tain’s Cellar selections, which offer unparalleled wine varieties. Here you’ll find some of the most unique regions and wine makers,” says Anna Patro- nis. “The wine club offers three memberships with one thing in common: each comes with a collection of very rare highly-allocated wines and/or champagne val- ued higher than the cost of membership.” Members also have a chance to participate in the annual trip to Champagne, France for tours, tastings and education from the top wineries there. Plus, throughout the year, all Capt. Anderson’s Wine Club members save on wine and champagne purchases and receive insider offers on rare wines as they become available. “For the wine aficionados, locals and visitors alike, it’s a perfect match, plus some really wonderful friendships have been made over the years,” says Anna Patronis. “I’ve watched children sitting in high-chairs who are now putting their own children in high-chairs,” adds Yonnie Patronis. “There are couples who celebrate each and every anniversary with us. We are proud to continue to offer the family-oriented service and the freshest food, and plan on doing so for many more years to come.” 5551 North Lagoon Drive, Panama City, (850) 234- 2225; www.captandersons.com; Monday – Saturday, Restaurant opens at 4 p.m. Seafood market opens at 3:30 p.m.
C apt. Anderson’s has become synonymous with family tradition. Serving local seafood for all and marking special occasions for visitors for over 53 years, the waterfront restaurant has become a community beacon on the marina in Panama City Beach. “We come as a big family to Capt. Anderson’s every June for my brother’s birthday… It’s his request each year that we all meet there, and he always gets the steak and lobster,” says Kansas Pitts, Santa Rosa Beach resident. “It’s a true experience, with the kids getting to watch the fishing boats come in and all the fish caught that day. It’s become a special place for our family… and of course the crab claws and homemade desserts are amazing!” Two brothers, Jimmy and Johnny Patronis, took over the restaurant in 1967, which was then a small breakfast house; and with hard work and dedication created what it is today. Patriarchs of both their families and the community, both were successful businessmen and philanthropists in Panama City and beyond. Jimmy Patronis, Sr. passed away this January (2020) at the age of 88; Johnny is 91 and still stops in at the restaurant to visit with guests. The second and third generations of the Patronis’s family now run the restaurant, which has grown to seat 725 and serving dinner six nights a week to over 250,000 guests during the eight-month season. This classic restaurant has always believed in quality and simplicity. No heavy sauces are used here. As Johnny Patronis explains, “Nothing should drown the natural
goodness of fresh, fresh fish. Just let it absorb a little of the aroma of oak from the coals… drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil… a squeeze of lemon… maybe a touch of oregano and serve it while it’s still hot. You know, we were the first on this coast to cook like this over real hardwood coals. But on the coast of Greece where my family grew up, it has been a tradition for hundreds… maybe thousands of years!” Add fresh baked bread and a perfect bottle of wine and it’s a true culinary experience. When it comes to Panama City Beach restaurants, Capt. Anderson’s is among the elite, consistently winning the best restaurant and best seafood categories in Bay County; it was also recipient of the “Best Seafood Restaurant” award from Southern Living magazine. Capt. Anderson’s is one of those rare family restaurants that not only survives, but strengthens and improves through the years. Every year the restaurant has witnessed remarkable growth without loss of quality. It’s also the only Bay County restaurant to receive Wine Spectator’s 2020 Award of Excellence, and has been an annual recipient since 2005. Yonnie Patronis, one of Jimmy’s four sons, has been instrumental in this element of the restaurant’s success which led to the founding of Capt. Anderson’s Wine Club in 2017. “This doesn’t feel like a job for me, it’s a true joy and passion,” says Yonnie Patronis. “The relationships built in this building over the years are very powerful, it’s like one big family, everyone knows each other and supports each other.” His daughter Anna
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Destin Ice Market Experience Coastal Fine Dining at Home b y Te s s F a r m e r
W hat are we all looking for when we just arrive at the beach? After catching the stellar winter sunset, you may be thinking about some fresh local seafood for dinner. With many restaurants restricted to limited seating, oftentimes it is easier, for larger groups especially, to prepare meals at home. Destin Ice Market 30A offers everything you may need to prepare a fresh, in-season, high-quality meal in the comfort of your own home… or home away from home… on 30-A. Pam and Tim Wellborn are owners and proprietors of Destin Ice Market 30A and opened their doors for
and Tim from Pensacola. They have been partners in life and business for many years, including partnership in two local popular restaurants, Cuvee Destin and Cuvee 30A. They eventually met Destin Ice owners Jim Bass and Dwane Martin during their time working for the Destin restaurant and they encouraged the couple to create Destin Ice Market 30A. The relationship with Jim and Dwane immediately brought decades of purchasing experience with The Destin Fishing Fleet to this location. Most of the seafood is provided by Destin Ice still today but they also purchase from many other local purveyors and sustainable fisherman in the area. In 2018 Pam invited Executive Chef
International Airport in Panama City Beach and will be walkable from Rosemary Beach with the addition of the Highway 98 pedestrian underpass. “We have customers who stop by on their way into town to pick out a protein—whether that’s the catch of the day, fresh Gulf shrimp, or prime cut steak—a couple of steakhouse sides and vegetables and they are set for dinner,” says Wellborn. “On the way out of town, some stop in to ship shrimp or fish so they can take a piece of the Gulf home with them.” That’s a souvenir to beat! Pam Wellborn is originally from northern Alabama
business in Inlet Beach in 2016. Destin Ice Market offers fresh, local, and sustainable seafood; as well as high quality meat from Halperns in Atlanta and poultry from nearby Joyce Farms, raised without pesticides, animal by-products, hormones, or antibiotics. The market also has every single item you’d possibly need for a stellar charcuterie board with an array of fine cheeses, preserves and jams, hand-sliced prosciutto, olives, crackers, pickled produce, and fresh fruit. Who’s hungry? “It’s our goal to provide the best quality in terms of freshness, sustainability and taste to all our customers and make their vacations as easy as possible,” says Pam Wellborn. Entertaining friends and family is a way of life for her. Growing up in the kitchen and having access to fresh, organic, and sustainable food sources, she appreciates access to the very best ingredients. The Destin Ice Market 30A represents that passion. Wellborn is also a certified sommelier and certified specialist of wine which has led her to procure an impressive selection of wines offered at the market. “We have many rare and unique options that can’t be found here in the immediate area, which many of our customers appreciate,” she says. The location of Destin Ice Market 30A also makes accessibility easy for visitors to Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, and the east end of 30-A in particular. It’s also on the way to 30-A from the Northwest Florida Beaches
Chef Alan Baltazar
Alan Baltazar, who she worked with at Cuvee Bistro, to become chef and manager for Destin Ice Market 30A. Originally from Wisconsin, Baltazar has run some of the nation’s finest kitchens in Wisconsin, Colorado, and now on the Emerald Coast. Since joining the Destin Ice Market 30A, he leads the team in preparations of the local seafood sold at the market; whether that be steamed shellfish or stone crabs, specialty side dishes and homemade desserts. Chef Alan is constantly adding new items to the market’s already extensive collection of fine foods. “We’ve had feedback from customers, especially after the pandemic restrictions, who are eating at home more on their beach vacations and are able to enjoy nice dinners with their family incorporating fresh, local ingredients,” says Wellborn. “The holidays were also busy with special order seafood, meats and wines and a new menu of side dishes… and who doesn’t enjoy lobster mac and cheese on Christmas Eve?!” Pam and Chef Alan invite you to shop with them and know they offer the very best from the oceans as well as from sustainable farms and specialty vendors.
Destin Ice Market 30A, Crossings at Inlet Beach; Open daily, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; (850) 502-4100; wwwdestinicemarket30A.com
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Wear Your Best Shorts and Flip-flops Edward’s Fine Food and Wine Offers Laid-Back Atmosphere with Great Cuisine b y D e n i s e K . J a m e s E dward’s Fine Food and Wine has deep roots in the Rosemary Beach commu- nity, from the restaurant’s early days In regard to recent concerns surrounding the Covid-19 virus, Edward’s is taking care to make custom- ers feel comfortable and happy. As with the entire Spell
onward. Opened by local chef Ed Reese and part of the Spell Restaurant Group since 2017, many things have remained constant at Edward’s and kept loyal patrons return- ing—namely, the quality ingredients on the menu. “While the restaurant has continued to evolve with an extensive remodel, new menu items, and an award-winning wine list, it continues to serve the freshest, locally sourced ingredients,” says Christy Spell Terry, who runs Spell Restaurant Group with her father and business partner, Rick Spell. Edward’s was the perfect addition to the Spell Restaurant Group’s collection of six dining establishments on the Florida Gulf Coast. Considering all six have different concepts and each one offers something delicious, foodies who live on the Gulf or who frequently vacation in the area have likely dined at others on the list: La Crema for Spanish tapas; Grits & Grind for breakfast favorites; La Cocina for Latin fare; Saltwater Grill for steaks and seafood; and George’s for Southern coastal cuisine. The Spell Restaurant Group also has establish-
Group of restaurants, safety and cleanliness is para- mount. Because Edward’s has an abundance of outdoor seating — in front of the res- taurant on Main Street, as well as in the courtyard — patrons can choose to “spread out and enjoy the fresh air while they dine,” according to Terry. She adds that all state and federal guidelines are carefully fol- lowed, including masks and temperature checks for staff, cleaning and sanitizing tables between parties, and half- capacity seating. Terry adds that the nature of Rosemary Beach — a tight-knit community
Double Chocolate Mousse Za’atar Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna
where neighbors trust each oth- er’s restaurant endorsements — makes Edward’s a continued success—as well as the dedica- tion of the experienced staff. “Just a few months ago, none of us could have imagined the new world we all live in now,” she says. “However, with the strong management and staff we have in place at Edward’s, we are confident it will continue to thrive in Rosemary Beach. “Our staff, with its many years of service, pay attention to details to ensure each guest has a wonderful experience. Our meals are memorable, which brings guests back. We are part of a close community on 30-A, and we have valued guests who continue to visit from across the country,” she concludes. To find out more about Edward’s Fine Food and Wine, visit their website at edwards30a.com, or call them at (850) 231-0550. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Grilled Pork Chop
ments in Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi. “Each of our restaurants is special in its own way, with Edward’s providing a high-quality dining experience without the formality,” says Terry. “We welcome you to enjoy a meal with us in your best shorts and flip-flops!” The highlight of Edward’s is its dedication to partnering with small local farms and purveyors to ensure seasonal and fresh ingredients at all times. As of this article, Terry and the rest of the restaurant staff were looking forward to heirloom tomatoes and South Carolina peaches, both seasonal during the balmy summer months and perfect for use in special salads, appetizers, and desserts. Thanks to the talents of Chef Josh Smith, mouth- watering features on the Edward’s menu change regularly and are perfectly paired with the wine list. Popular items that restaurant patrons regularly ask for include the za’atar crusted yellowfin tuna, the heritage pork chop with tomato chutney, the grilled blackened grouper, and the jumbo lump crab cakes, according to Terry.
Double Chocolate Mousse
With happy hour from 5 until 6 p.m. seven days a week, it’s easy to reward yourself with a well-priced bottle to accompany a meal. Or try a specialty wine cocktail, such as the Edward’s Champagne Cocktail, with fresh berries, sparkling , and Cocchi Americano; or the White Wine Moscow Mule, with white wine, ginger beer, mint, strawberries, and lime. If you and your table can’t finish the whole bottle, a friendly server is happy to package the rest up for enjoyment at home. Guests can also elect to bring wine from their own personal collection for a $25 corking fee.
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A Different Fish b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t
Carolina Pimento Cheese Toast
Heirloom Tomato Toast
Photos courtesy St. Joe Hospitality
O pen since the summer of 2018, FOOW has set itself apart from its competitors and become a locally renowned eatery for all things coastal; presenting a menu of fresh-off-the-docks dishes that displays a deft understanding of flavor combinations and a love for Northwest Florida’s abundance of delicious seafood. “FOOW has long been synonymous with fresh, locally inspired cuisine that celebrates Florida’s best, focusing on creating a locally sourced menu and offering our guests stunning waterfront views and a coastal-casual atmosphere,” says Executive Chef Matt Moore, Director of Food & Beverage at WaterColor Inn & Resort, and who has been with the restaurant since its opening. Adding to his credentials, he was named “Chef of the Year” in 2017 by the American Culinary Federation. About FOOW, Moore says, “We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.” While FOOW’s imperative of impeccable service and the highest quality of cuisine offering might imply a white-tablecloth ambiance and stuffy atmosphere, they manage to maintain a friendly vibe that welcomes everyone to walk through their doors; from those coming in off the beach to those who just want a night out. “FOOW is Southern hospitality at its best,” says Chef Moore. “We want you to feel like you’re at an old school café where you see familiar faces and you never have to worry about what to wear.” And despite the fact that their food certainly plays an integral part of drawing diners, it is their breathtaking views and unique interior that clinches the deal, creating the perfect place to just sit, relax with a fantastic meal and a great drink, and marvel at the beauty. “The best seat in the house is always guaranteed,” Chef Moore says of the restaurant’s glass walls, which showcase breathtaking views from
woods, offset with textures and patterns that show an understanding of style, perfectly set against massive windows that flood the space with natural sunlight and provide the perfect viewpoint for watercolor-like sunsets. With views like that, one might forget to look at what is presented on one’s plate, but Chef Moore and the cooks in his kitchen make sure that their offerings are no less impressive than the vistas beheld by their guests. Standing firmly on their standard of creating everything in house and putting creativity into every dish, FOOW has devised a menu of delicious signatures featuring fresh caught Gulf seafood and premium steaks, as well as unique Southern comfort-inspired items like Fish Dip and Sweet Tea Chicken. A particular point of pride—and display of determination—are their FOOW Toasts. “We started making sourdough in-house, even though we were unsure about whether or not we could sustain that type of bread in such a small facility, with such limited bakery resources. We soon decided it was worth the result and just figured out the logistics,” says Chef Matt of the new addition to the menu: three different toasts that include their own version of tomato bruschetta with a local buttermilk farm cheese, one with Gulf shrimp and avocado, and a pimento cheese toast. “You can’t get more Southern than that!” Whatever they put their hand to, FOOW and the team behind it are clearly determined to stand out and not fit in. And this is one case where being different definitely works in their favor.
We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.
every seat. Wall art by local artist Justin Gaffrey adds to the restaurant’s vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere, and the FOOW room provides private parties with a more intimate dining setting amidst an extensive and extremely impressive wine cellar. Clearly, the importance of setting the scene was not lost on FOOW’s owners, who recently completed a redesign led by designer and architect Cooper Carry of The Johnson Studio. The newly imagined space highlights Gulf views and capitalizes on the nearness of South Walton’s white sand beaches. The design also incorporates an open kitchen as well as an expanded Gulf view bar that wraps from the interior to the exterior, seamlessly unifying the two concepts. Continuing the coastal theme are cool seaside colors and warm hickory
FOOW is located at 34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 534-5050 or visit www.foow30a.com.
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Lola Coastal Italian b y J e s s i c a H o l t h a u s B a d o u r
B uild it and they will come… But will they still come if there’s a pandemic? Turns out, in this case, they will. At least that’s been the result so far with Lola Coastal Italian, open in Rosemary Beach since June 2020. Today it’s one of the best casual dining spots on 30-A, but the concept nearly didn’t come to fruition after the lease was signed in February. “We struck a deal to cut the space down and begin building out the restaurant,” says Chef Tom Catherall. “Halfway through, every- thing was shutting down [due to COVID-19] and we had to decide if we should power through or cut our losses.” Quite the timing. But Catherall says he and wife Lisa made the right decision to forge ahead with the project. And since Lola opened its doors, momentum has gained rapidly. Tom’s name on the marquee helped with initial recognition; those familiar with Catherall’s restaurant empire in Atlanta couldn’t believe a new location had popped up here in the Panhandle. Those who didn’t know about his
The restaurant prides itself on five-star food with quick and easy service—something you can appreciate after a day at the beach or when dining out with the kids. Guests order at the counter and pick up drinks, while food orders are run from the kitchen without formal table service. “This is the first time I’ve done this type of ser- vice at a restaurant and it really works,” Catherall explains. “I’m very happy with everything here right now, and the guests keep coming back.” Lisa helped with the restaurant’s beach-chic design. Working front of the house, she aims to speak to every customer, ensuring the dining experience is top-notch. “Lola is casual but elegant,” she describes. “You can walk in here dressed off the beach, or ready to start the night for a bachelorette party.” On top of great food, there’s daily happy hour specials with a stocked wine list and full bar. Guests can enjoy live music from local guitarist Jim Couch Thursday to Saturday outside. The rest of the time, 70s pop music keeps the vibe fun right through closing time. The restaurant’s beach-chic atmo- sphere is casual but elegant. While the winter
award-winning reputation (he’s one of only 67 Certified Master Chefs nationwide) have immediately become familiar. If you’re curious about the restaurant’s namesake, it’s inspired threefold: By Catherall’s former Lola Bellini Bar in Atlanta, famous 50’s Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, and the song Lola by the Kinks. “Tom always said he was a rock
season this year may bring more unknowns, Lola Coastal Italian plans to remain open year-round. If you’re a local, be sure to men- tion it when you place your order (Florida res- idents get a 10% local discount). Chef Catherall has plans to deliver his
Woodfired Pizza Oven
star in another life,” Lisa says with a laugh. “He’s a rock star in the kitchen instead of on stage.” Customers agree, touting the food as the best on 30-A. Yelp.com mirrors that sentiment with over 25 five-star reviews; not only for the food, but also the staff and service. “You’re only as good as the last meal you served,” Catherall says. “I’ve got medals and awards out the wazoo; but that doesn’t matter. If you use quality ingredients and affordable pricing, people will come, and that’s what I’ve built my reputation on.” As for the seafood spin, the chef has worked with fish his entire 50+ year career. While he’s known for Asian and Chinese influences, the Gulf Coast offers a Full Service Bar
woodfired pizzas within a 3-mile radius here on 30-A throughout the winter, so be sure to give a honk (and place an order) when you see the Lola scooter zipping through town. Lola Coastal Italian is located at 10343 E County Hwy 30A in Rosemary Beach, open daily for happy hour and dinner. They offer dine-in, curbside pickup, and no-contact delivery. See the current menu and daily hours at cheftomcatherall.com, call (850) 541- 9440, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow on Facebook.
plethora of fresh options to put into menu staples, like ever-popular peel & eat shrimp, and daily specials such as local snapper and grouper. Then there are Italian must-haves: meatballs, fresh pasta with homemade sauces of your choice, classic chicken parm, and woodfired pizzas. The dough is made from scratch each morning using imported double-zero flour, meats, and cheeses from Italy—and the pizzas sell out daily. While customers say it’s the best they’ve ever tasted, equal orders of the fresh pasta are flying out of the kitchen, too.
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Gyro Heroes Work Here Seaside’s Beloved Airstream Husband-Wife Team Presses on
After Uncertain Summer b y C h r i s t o p h e r M a n s o n
T he best Mediterranean food I have tried, and I’ve been to many different Turkish and Greek restaurants… this place serves the most delicious and authentic food.” Review of Seaside’s Mr. Gyro Hero on Facebook On an unusually crisp fall day well after the normal lunch hour, Seaside’s Airstream Row is packed with hungry visitors. Although Burak and Olga Akkan opened their Mr. Gyro Hero less than a year ago, positive word of mouth appears to have spread. The 10-year veterans of the Saturday Seaside Farmers Market opened for business in March 2020 but had to close for over two months due to Covid-19 quarantine demands. The Akkans reopened at the end of May and ended up having a busy summer. “We don’t know how it will be normally, since this is our first year for the airstream,” says Olga during a well-earned break. “It’s been challenging—managing the lines, keeping people six feet apart. You see how it is now, imagine what it was like in July!” Business has been good, and Olga says the only problem during the busy season was being understaffed. “We have other people who work, but we couldn’t cover all the shifts. A lot of seasonal workers couldn’t come out here. My husband and I are here all the time.” The Mr. Gyro Hero menu choices offer much more than you could imagine from such a small space. The most popular items are the gyros, chicken kabob, and homemade hummus. Vegetarian and vegan options are available as well, along with salads (Greek and gyro, made from organic and locally grown ingredi- ents); breakfast (wraps and a Mediterranean option that serves one or two); and, for dessert, homemade baklava. The couple’s dream come true is the first thing you’ll spot when you drive, walk, or bike into Seaside from the west end. The comic book motif of the Airstream instantly catches the eye. It was designed by Central Idea Agency’s David DeGregorio, and Olga says the signage was one of the most challenging tasks she and Burak had to face prior to opening.
The summer was more of a tourist thing, but now that it’s cooling down, we’re starting to see a lot more of the locals. We’re very happy to see them stopping by.
Burak’s parents help take care of the children while the Akkans keep Mr. Gyro Hero running. “We are trying to be home (with them), at least one of us,” Olga says. “Deniz, our son, is already cooking. He can make sandwiches and salads.” When asked if they’re good, she says, “They’re good for me!” Olga and Burak didn’t push the kid to start preparing food. “You know kids, they do what they want! “We had to do all the inspections and everything by ourselves,” Olga says of the other challenges she and Burak faced prior to opening. “This is a different type of business. For me, it was a very new experience as far as setting up the company, acquiring licenses, buying equipment, and finding someone to build the kitchen inside the Airstream. “It’s hard to do. You have limited space, and you’re serving hundreds of people a day. We have shelves, fridges, grills in there. Once we opened, we realized this is the kitchen we wanted.” In their spare time, the Akkans enjoy traveling— skiing in Ukraine and spending quality time with Burak’s relatives in Turkey. And of course, they love the beach. Mr. Gyro Hero is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 2215 E. County Highway 30-A, Airstream Row, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. Call (850) 376-5864 for more information and check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
Olga and Burak Akkan
It should be pointed out that Olga’s face mask sports the Mr. Gyro Hero logo. They’re not for sale—yet. As for the future, Olga says, “It’s hard to make any plans right now because of the time that we live in. We’re trying to live day by day, trying to see what’s going to happen. We definitely don’t want to close down again. Our top priority is to survive the year and stay healthy.” She does hope to attract many of the locals who know and love them from the Seaside Farmers Market. “The summer was more of a tourist thing, but now that it’s cooling down, we’re starting to see a lot more of the locals. We’re very happy to see them stopping by.” The couple live in Destin and have two children—a boy, age 4, and a one-year-old girl. Olga’s mother and
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Kitchen Takeover Private Chef Service Plate to Plate Brings Fine Dining to You b y Te s s F a r m e r
FRESH AND SIMPLE
Plate to Plate not only curates an incredibly impressive custom menu for you, but they also give you more time for conversation and laughter with your friends, which is really what this is all about.
Using locally-sourced ingredients and seasonal produce, Plate to Plate prides itself on the freshness of ingredients to bring a high quality product to the table. Whether their clients are planning a seafood boil in Santa Rosa Beach or stone crab dinner in Miami, Plate to Plate chefs take the local environment into consideration, in addition to any special dietary restrictions or tastes to prepare a delicious meal and memorable experience. “We love hosting dinner parties, but it’s too easy to get stuck in the kitchen, when we’d much rather spend time with our guests,” says Mike Ragsdale of The 30A Company. “Plate to Plate not only curates an incredibly impressive custom menu for you, but they also give you more time for conversation and laughter with your friends, which is really what this is all about.” “We consider ourselves a partner with our clients to accommodate their needs—whether it’s creating a Keto-friendly menu, prepping and cooking the red snapper you caught on a fishing charter that morning, or baking mom’s favorite chocolate cake for a surprise birthday celebration, we’ve done it all,” adds Davis. “We thrive on that person to person experience.” “Meals for my family are sacred, it’s a time for people to come together, to reconnect, to laugh and to love,” says Richard Olivarez, chief marketing officer for Ocean Reef Rentals. “Chef Kali treated us like family and curated a beautiful experience and exquisite meal. Facilitating remarkable experiences through food is not only her business, clearly it’s her passion.” Plate to Plate offers a catalog of services including: private dinners, seafood boils, cooking demonstrations, tea and coffee tastings, table design, hor d’oeuvres for cocktail parties, brunch menus, wine tastings and pairings, cookie baking for kids (or grown- ups), as well as grocery stocking.
W e’ve all been there. Overcrowded restau- rant. Kids melting down. Grandpa’s still circling the block for a parking spot… Rather than going out to dinner after a long day at the beach, a service called Plate to Plate invites you to enlist one of their private chefs to prepare a per- sonalized meal right in the comfort of your home (or home away from home). Whether it’s a twilight dinner for two or a gathering of friends, special oc- casion, family meal or grand party, Plate to Plate steps in to take care of it all. “You do the relaxing while we create a memora- ble experience for you and your family,” says Kali Davis, Plate to Plate executive chef and CEO. “The 30-A area, all the way to Destin, is the perfect place to offer our in-home personal chef experiences and we are here to help make our clients’ stays at the beach even more enjoyable.”
Executive Chef and CEO Kali Davis
“My experience cooking for a wide variety of cultures and cuisines led me to want to discover what other local communities have to offer,” says Davis. From culinary student to culinary expert, she has truly immersed herself in perfecting her craft and is training a group of up-and-coming chefs to bring her unique personal dining experience to more and more people across the state. Davis and her team have prepared in-home meals for celebrity clientele as well as professional athletes and coaches who visit the beaches along the Emerald Coast. “The best part of my job is connecting with our clients and having the opportunity to play a small yet memorable role during their vacation.”
Even as a young girl, Destin native Kali Davis would create elaborate dinner parties for her friends and family, using her mom’s credit card to buy the best cuts of meat and planning multiple courses. Davis worked as a personal chef after attending Johnson and Wales University’s culinary program in Miami. Then, after earning her culinary arts degree and working for One Bal Harbour Resort and Spa in Miami (now the Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour), and Bloom in Wynwood, Florida, she returned to the Panhandle to create Plate to Plate and is now expanding the services to other Florida cities.
For more details please visit www.platetoplate.us, call (850) 974-2665 or follow @chefkali on Instagram.
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Kelli and Bart Precourt’s Prema Organic Café Encourages Thriving and Surviving b y C h r i s t o p h e r M a n s o n
I t’s 10 a.m. on a Monday at the recently opened Prema Organic Café in Seagrove Beach, and Kelli Precourt—co-owner with husband Dr. Bart Precourt—is here, along with her small but dedicated staff, most of whom got to work around 5. The restaurant’s name comes from the Sanskrit for “to love”, Precourt explains. “For us, it’s about self-love: feeding yourself good food as an act of self-love.” Everything here is made in house and requires “a lot of loving hands,” says Precourt. “My team is so amazing, and they walk the talk. They eat well; and the food they make, they know how important it is for it to be rooted in love.” Business has been great since Kelli and Bart opened next door to their Balance Health Studio. “Bart and I have been here for 15 years, offering clinical nutrition, cleanses, and menu design for people—that’s teaching people how to eat healthy, creating a personal menu for the week,” Kelli says. “For us, it was a natural progression, an end result from what we were doing.
While Prema offers plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, there are also clean organic proteins for people who do eat meat. “I eat everything, and I’m very specific about animal proteins and where they come from,” Precourt says. “People love our organic cold-pressed juice, our nutrient-dense superfood smooth- ies. Our chicken salad is canola-free, and we make our own avocado oil mayonnaise. Everything we make from scratch. Our menu was designed to help people thrive. ‘Let food be thy medicine.’” Even Kelli’s guilty pleasures stay within the semi-healthy realm. “If I’m going to have pizza, it’ll be cauliflower crust. For We are not willing to compromise. We believe people should nurture themselves with food.
Dr. Bart and Kelli Precourt
Kelli grew up in what she describes as a non-sugar- based home. “My parents never had cookies and cakes,” she says. “My mom really taught me how to eat healthy. My husband and I educate the community about eating healthy and staying away from refined sugar. Anyone that knows Dr. Bart knows he’s constantly educating his tribe about eating from God’s garden—food that hasn’t been manipulated. “The day and age of the sickness that’s going on in our country—I think a lot of people have woken up to the fact that health is the most important thing, staying healthy and strong, really thriving as a person. If you’re paying attention to the news, the healthier you are, the more you can survive.” Kelli and Bart moved here about 15 years ago from Atlanta. Kelli was an Olympic field hockey player, so eating healthy was always a part of her lifestyle. “It was a requirement to perform well,” she says. “If you ate crap, you performed like crap.”
me, feeling better is way more important than the taste,” she says. “Most food that you consider naughty can still be made healthier and not loaded with chemicals and gums and flours.” Lisa, one of Prema’s regulars, stops in. “I come in here just about every day. I like the convenience of being able to drop in and grab something healthy,” she beams. “What you get with Bart and Kelli is pure—so much love and warmth and integrity here. They’re always trying to help people evolve—the community and people visiting from out of state. This is the place to be.” Prema Organic Cafe is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is located at 3557 County Highway 30-A, Seagrove Beach, Florida. Visit their website at www. prema30a.com
“Our tribe over at Balance has put the word out (about Prema). We’re 100 percent organic, 100 percent gluten-free. No one is doing that in this area. The standard and quality of food—the bar has been lifted big time. We are not willing to compromise. We believe people should nurture themselves with food.” She adds: “The biggest thing for me is that eating healthy can taste good. A lot of people are intimidated, and we try to make the food accessible to everyone.” Kelli and Bart came up with the Prema concept over years of eating healthy and compiling recipes they enjoy at home. Prema Organic Café offers “amazing” smoothie bowls, house made granola “not loaded with sugar”, and “super-healthy” non-dairy yogurts, along with cold- pressed juices made in house. “We don’t denature the nutrients,” Precourt says, emphasizing that none of the restaurant’s recipes contain canola oil.
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