Pensacola Chefs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

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Local food, when it’s distinctive, is a compelling tourist attraction.

Pensacola’s abundance of fresh in-season seafood, and local produce, paired with unique cultural influences make our local restaurants stand out.  And thanks to organizers at Visit Pensacola, our local cuisine has been featured in New York three years in row.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Pensacola Bay Area’s finest chefs presented their best culinary creations at the acclaimed James Beard House in Greenwich Village.  It seems foodies in The Big Apple developed a taste for the unique blend of Gulf Coast gustatory offerings.

In 2013, the chefs fused modern Gulf Coast cuisine with inspirations from Pensacola’s Spanish heritage in a celebration of Viva Florida 500, an initiative celebrating Florida’s 500th anniversary. The event was themed Viva Pensacola! A Culinary Exploration Commemorating the Influences of Spain.

Why is the food so good here?  The Pensacola Bay Area was the first settlement in American and local food traditions have evolved for 450 years.  Local culinary traditions are influenced by the five national flags that have flown over the city including Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States.  The fusion of southern comfort foods with international flavor and fresh Gulf seafood is what makes this region distinct.

In short, culture and history have blended in Pensacola to create a distinct local flavor that is increasingly gaining national attention.   Throw in great local ingredients, talented chefs, and thriving unique local restaurants, and you can be sure of a great meal.

The  Pensacola Celebrity Chefs include Dan Dunn of H2O at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front, Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse, Jim Shirley of The Fish House, Gus Silivos of Nancy’s Haute Affairs, and Frank Taylor of Global Grill.  Dan Dunn loved the adventure.  He said, “I feel like we are living the dream. It was great going to New York with this group of chefs, I’ve known these guys for over fifteen years and we’ve done a lot of events together.”  He served shrimp croquettes with Manchego cheese.  He says, “The Gulf is an incredible source of seafood in all seasons so it will always shine in our representative dishes.  Our food at the Hilton is awesome because of it.  I get to serve local shrimp, oysters, fish, all year round. I feel very spoiled.”

Pensacola Celebrity Chef Dan Dunn is the Executive Chef of the biggest and busiest kitchen on Pensacola Beach which services H20 Cajun Asian Restaurant as well as catering hundreds of yearly banquets and meetings at the Hilton Gulf Front Hotel.  At H20 he artfully meshes southern tradition, fresh local ingredients and international flavor. One of his signature dishes is jumbo Gulf Coast shrimp bacon wrapped, stuffed with Gouda cheese and topped with an Asian inspired mango BBQ sauce.

The James Beard Foundation was established in 1986 in honor of James Beard, a cookbook author, teacher and father of American gastronomy. Beard’s Greenwich Village townhouse showcases the industry’s finest chefs at nightly dining events.

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