VIP Destin Magazine - February 2022

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Volume XIX • Issue II

events 17 Crescendo! Kick Off Lunch 21 VIP Destin Magazine Cover Reveal Party 26 Turtle Plunge 37 Corcoran Reverie Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 44 Destin Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours & Annual Membership Meeting 49 Sip N’ Stroll 54 Remaining Relevant 57 Opening Reception PINPOINT 65 Joint Business After Hours 68 Brunch, Rhythm, and Brews 72 LuLu’s Noon Year’s Eve 75 Dolphin Oasis Groundbreaking Ceremony 78 Walton Area Chamber Power of Business Lunch Mentor Appreciation 84 Destin Chamber’s Tourism Lunch

on the cover Dr. Devin Stephenson, J. Wren Supak & Niceville Mayor Dan Henkel Photography by Harley S. Sampson, Jr. at Opening Reception PINPOINT

departments 24 41 61 70 81 87 91 94 98

Adventure Out Destin Style Coastal Cuisine May We Suggest Swizzle Locale Give Care Share Save the Date I Am Destin

features 29 Best In Destin 2022 34 Business Profile: The Blake at Miramar Beach 46 Business Profile: Parrot Head Yachts

VIP Destin Magazine Staff Publisher Greg Alexander

Art Director Priscilla Atkins

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Graphic Design Brian Goins Patti Hall

Publisher’s Assistant Nicole Partridge Advertising Stephanie Alvarez Kristin Moffitt Verla Price Content Creator Anna Stockton

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Greg Alexander Zhalman Harris Alicia Noble Harley S. Sampson, Jr. Anna Stockton VIP Founder Jeff Watson February 2022 | 11

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letter from the Associate Publisher February is the month of Amore’! Let us face it -- love is in the air, on T-shirts, in social media posts, all over the racks at supermarkets, and of course, in our hearts for one another. Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I cringe for my male friends. The pressure rises for men to show their romantic side on this single day more than they contribute to their relationship all year. I say throw off the robes of tradition. Trash the candy and the roses! Bring me a new air fi lter for my Ducati, and I will make your favorite dinner. This year I am hosting the “Un Valentines Mixer” at my house to create a fun event for my friends. Who knows, maybe a handsome man will show up on a motorcycle and sweep me off my feet. Whatever your Valentine plans, I wish you love unconditionally in February and all year. Do not rush through February, the shortest month of the year. Take your time to enjoy the small things, especially those noted in the following pages where you will read about the exciting groundbreaking at the Gulfarium or a group of new artists at the J. Leon Gallery + Studio exhibited at their Sip N’ Stroll. As you fl ip, you will see some significant networking events, such as the Destin Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours and our own VIP Destin Magazine Cover Reveal party fi lled with clients and friends of the magazine celebrating the release of our Bridal Issue at Emeril’s Coastal. VIP Destin attended as many charity and non-profit events as possible and fi lled the pages with the giving of our community for you to enjoy. Drum roll, please. The announcement you have been waiting for -- the WINNERS of Best In Destin 2022! It may be chilly outside, but the area is burning up with whispers of who won and who will be invited to attend the annual Black Tie Ball on March 19 at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa. Find out on page 29. We can’t wait to see the ladies in gowns and the men in tuxedos as we watch the local businesses you selected cross the stage and receive their acknowledgement. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated in this year’s Best In Destin contest. Thank YOU for supporting VIP Destin; please be kind, courteous, and shop local.

Associate Publisher 850-502-7970

Be on the lookout for our VIP Destin Ambassadors, Joe & Lea Capers, at area events. 14


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VIP Destin at Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits


KICK OFF LUNCH photos by Zhalman Harris story by Greg Alexander


hile this time of year is the crescendo of winter on the Gulf Coast, it is also famously time for the Crescendo season of events supporting Sinfonia Gulf Coast. On January 27 Sinfonia supporters gathered for the year’s first exclusive and exciting luncheon at Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits. Gentlemen and ladies arrived in droves, some even in limos, for this always fun extravaganza. Chef Jack McGuckin prepared an extraordinary 3-course lunch, which was preceded with a raffle, door prizes, and a pop-up boutique put together by The Jewel. Laura Hussey, a professional broadcaster in radio and TV who co-anchors “3 in the Morning” on WEAR in Pensacola, shared a special for attendees. Crescendo! Kick Off is the beginning of a series of events supporting Sinfonia. Other events include Crescendo Vintner Dinners hosted in elegant homes in the area. The Crescendo! Main Event will be held on February 27 with a Carnivale theme and will be a wonderful way to celebrate and support the wonderful symphony orchestra that our area is so fortunate to have. Laura Hussey & Demetrius Fuller

Lydia Gallup & Danielle Torley

Steve Morehead & Amelia Beard

Karen White-Allen & Christine Weaver

Joy Hardy & Anastasia Stull

Brooke St. Halaire, Summer Bell, Alexa Castle & Stephanie Brannon February 2022 | 17

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VIP Destin at Crescendo! Kick Off Lunch

Cindy Campbell & Pat Madden

Jennifer Salcone & Jennifer Pironee

Mary Morgan, Taneka O’Brien, Gale Colling & Kristin Dahler

Maureen Gamble & Candis Wilson

Lisa Reinking & Dana Chandler 18

Sally Thiede & Heavenly Dawson

Susan Burch & Diane Neuman

Janet Rhodes, Cindy Hyatt & Cindy McCue


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Elizabeth Boswell & Jessica Susong

Velia Lala, Shawn Springfield & Elaine Thompson

Gale Colbourne & Alison Hand

Nina Jeffords, Aleta Jefferson & Verla Price

Brittney Byrd & Emily Buckley

Shawn Tomasello & Shantelle Dedicke

Harmony Nagy, Jeff Dannelly & Jill Bauer

Glenda Palmore & Renee Beaman

Leisha Kelley & Debra Ristau

Rio Estep, Beth Clavier & Kate Kelly February 2022 | 19

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VIP Destin at Emeril’s Coastal

VIP Destin Magazine


Cover Reveal Party


photos & story by Alicia Noble


ozens gathered on the evening of January 6 awaiting the reveal of VIP Destin Magazine’s latest issue. They mingled over amazing hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the trendy Emeril’s Coastal at Grand Boulevard waiting for all to arrive. At 6:00pm, the cover was revealed, and copies of the magazine were dispersed. The January 2022 edition was the Bridal Issue, highlighting several weddings with local ties. Former Miss Destin and longtime area resident, Peyton LoCicero Trist graced the cover. Her June 2021 wedding to Beau Trist in New Orleans, Louisiana, is displayed in the issue along with the stories of several other brides and grooms, including her own brother. As Peyton and Beau walked into the restaurant, the cover was revealed and the couple was elated. Peyton took the microphone and spoke of her years in Destin before moving to New Orleans for her job as a broadcast journalist. Peyton said this area and many of the people in attendance helped raise her, so it was an honor to make the cover with her new husband. Many local business executives and friends of the magazine attended the event. The indoor-outdoor vibe and the creative food at Emeril’s Coastal set the perfect tone to start a new year of celebrating VIP Destin Magazine and the many philanthropic, social, and business events that are published for everyone to see through the pages - just as if they had attended the event firsthand.

Beau Trist, Peyton LoCicero Trist, Heidi & Brian LoCicero

Jessica & Daniel Austin

Bill & Mitzi Richardson

Heather & Ryan Holloway

Vivienne Williams & Larry Cowsert

February 2022 | 21

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VIP Destin at VIP Destin Magazine Cover Reveal Party

Melanie Kimsey & Joe Myers

Lane Redding, Liz Nicolucci & Russell Wamble

Melissa Fertitta & Steven Franco

Jeff Sarault, Allycin Alexander & Young Kim 22

William & Emily Kelly

Martina Mason & Todd Reeves

Kay Phelan, Allison Taylor & Stephanie Alvarez

Bobby Wagner & Bobby Parker

Verla Price & Denise Kendust

Greg Alexander, Lea & Joe Capers


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Coral Holland & Heather Cleveland

food and spirits Linzi McConnell & Cris Hill

Steve Daniel & Sean Palmer

Established in 2020, Bitterroot Food and Spirits is Destin’s premiere establishment for high-end cuisine and cocktails. Thoughtfully crafted and always fresh, we aim to lead the industry by example. No exceptions, no compromises.

Hours of Operation: Dine In or Take Away Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 11a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Monday-Sunday, 4 p.m. Small Bites: Daily from 2:30-4 p.m. Happy Hour: Daily 3-6 p.m.; $5 Old Fashioned Mondays Catering & Events: Let us host your next gathering, in the restaurant or off site!

850-460-8881 4463 Commons Dr West STE A | Destin, FL 32541


Lynn Wesson & Shawn Langar February 2022 | 23

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story by Anna Stockton photos provided by Gulf Breeze Zoo


riginally opening in 1984, the Gulf Breeze Zoo has a long history along the Gulf Coast. The zoo was hit hard by the economic downturn and suffered massive damage when Hurricane Ivan ravaged the area. These two factors permanently shuttered the zoo. However, due to strong efforts from the previous owner and Zoofari Parks, the animals remained comfortable in their own homes until the park was officially purchased by Zoofari Parks, LLC, in 2009. The zoo underwent drastic renovations and was rebranded with great success.

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Experience our animals in a variety of ways. Observe them in their habitats while strolling through the park, from the boardwalk, or our safari line train. Interact with them during a unique animal encounter, an animal feeding, and a visit to our farm. Choose your adventures! The Gulf Breeze Zoo never stops building and improving the quality of life for their animals and the overall experience for guests. Over 200 major and minor renovations have been made to provide the utmost comfort and care to their 1,000+ animals of more than 70 different species that call the zoo home. Three new exhibits opened in 2021 including the Maned Wolf Exhibit, Greater One-Horned Rhino Exhibit, and Pygmy Hippo Exhibit. Additionally, the zoo offers behind-the-scenes encounters with the Nile hippo, reticulated giraffe, and sloth. The zoo plans further exciting expansions for 2022. Zoo exhibits are key in educating guests about animals and their habitats. Children of all ages love the Budgie Adventure Aviary, allowing guests to get up close and personal with parakeets. Tiger cubs, Toby and Indra, also draw quite a crowd to their habitat. The Safari Express Train takes guests to see free-roaming animals on their preserve including the zoo’s crash of Southern White Rhino. Orangutans and gorillas can also be observed on their island habitats. The zoo also offers unique encounters. The giraffe encounter allows the guests to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe house as well as meeting and feeding these long-necked residents. The hippo encounter introduces guests to the zoo’s two Nile hippos, which happen to be the third largest land mammal. The hippo’s animal care specialist educates and informs guests on conservation efforts as well as letting them in on the daily care routine for these rotund tenants. The last year-round encounter available is the sloth encounter. This encounter allows onlookers to feed the sloths and learn more about them. A new arrival to Gulf Breeze Zoo is a sibling pair of maned wolves named Stella and Cieza. As representatives of their declining South American canine species, Stella and Cieza play vital roles in protecting the future of maned

wolves. Since arriving in October 2021, the nearly 3-year-old sister and brother pair have settled into their new home and can now be viewed by park guests. The zoo has a reputable breeding program as well. They have had tremendous success with breeding the Southern white rhino, clouded leopard, and most recently a female orangutan named Isadora who will serve as an important ambassador for her species. Every birth to the zoo is significant, but Isadora’s arrival is especially exciting since orangutans are a critically endangered species. Born on September 11, 2021, to mom, Indah, and dad, Louie, Isadora is now being hand-raised by animal care specialists due to Indah’s lack of maternal instincts toward the baby, necessitating zoo staff to intervene. The staff’s goal is to introduce Isadora to another orangutan to become her surrogate mother, but for now she will remain in the care of zoo staff behind-the-scenes and will not be on exhibit. This zoo is one of three zoological facilities operated by the Zoofari Parks Corporation, working in conjunction with the Alabama Safari Park and the Virginia Safari Park to provide aid to over 135 countries around the world. The Gulf Breeze Zoo is privately owned and receives no state or federal tax support. Funding for conservation programs is made possible through the continued support of zoo guests. Conservation is fundamental in their daily operations and visitors are encouraged to join them in making a difference on this journey. Please visit for more information. February 2022 | 25

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VIP Destin at Henderson Beach State Park

TURTLE PLUNGE photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


isitors to Henderson Beach State Park were treated to mild temps on January 1 for the annual Turtle Plunge & Costume Contest. Sponsored by the Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks, registration opened at 8:00 am, with the plunge taking place at 11:00 am. This year’s registration included a daily park pass, a beach towel, and an associated plunge gift bag. Held annually, this year’s plunge was attended by approximately 75 people from as far away as England. “We had a really great turnout and we appreciate everyone who came out and braved the conditions,” stated Veronica Deveau, membership and marketing coordinator for Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks (FECSP). She continued, “It was so nice that plungers did not want to get out of the water.” After leaving the water, plungers were greeted with refreshments, including a hot coffee and hot cocoa station sponsored by The Henderson. Organized by FECSP and benefiting the Destin Junior Lifeguard program and both Henderson Beach State Park and Rocky Bayou State Park, FECSP is a citizen support group working to preserve and protect the local state parks. Anne Marie Diaz, FECSP Operations Manager was on hand to assist with the plunge and noted, “Our main mission is two part: raising awareness for the park, and getting the community involved with different activities and programs.”

Paula Piazza

Scott Norman

Sophia Bergmann

Plungers 26


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Lisa Hughey & Caroline Powell

Leslie & Tripp Haywood

Destin’s premier luxury yachting experience. Thank you for voting us Best New Business! Enjoy the beautiful scenery Destin, Florida has to offer with a group or in a romantic setting. We have a variety of charter types so you can be sure to choose the one that’s right for you!

Don & Joy Jeffries


• Private ½ Day & Full Day Charters • Private Sunset and Dolphin Cruises • Thursday Night Fireworks Cruise


• European Luxury Yacht. Princess V72 • Professional Captain and Crew • Covered Seating on the Bow and Stem

New pickup location at Heron Harbor! Hunter Thompson

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What better way to celebrate than with a BOW!


hat a remarkable place we live in! VIP Destin Magazine has presented our Best in Destin Readers Choice contest for over 12 years, yet the winner’s list remains replete with so many worthy -- and new selections. Our readers had the opportunity again to herald their favorite locally-owned places, spaces, events, and people and it is time for those winners to take a bow. The fanfare for this coveted title continues to grow tremendously and each of the hundreds of winners has been grateful and proud to display their acknowledgement. Many even continue to win year over year, proving they are doing something right. The competition has gotten stiffer over the years as more businesses have opened and as more are vying for the title. With over 150 categories, the competition is fierce. With the number of participants and volume of voting growing each year, VIP Destin Magazine feels confident that the community puts stock into this awards program. The Destin area is so fortunate to have so many great local businesses whose passion for pleasing their patrons is obvious. Every business that was nominated has made a positive impression on someone and they should be proud. The top 10 businesses that moved forward to the voting phase all proved to have a large fan following and are each deserving of attention from our readers. We hope you will take note of all those businesses and find time to utilize their services and share your experience with others. Both locals and visitors recognize the talents of those behind the storefronts bearing the coveted Best in Destin logo emblazed on their windows, printed on their advertisements, and splashed across their social media channels. Our categories can change from year to year. If you have suggestions for new and different categories, email us at with your suggestions. The winning business owners from each category will receive invitations to the highly anticipated VIP Destin Magazine annual Black Tie Ball. We look forward to further recognizing these winners and celebrating their accomplishments with first class treatment. VIP Destin Magazine is proud to present the 2022 Best in Destin Award Winners chosen by our readers!

And the Winners Are...

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3 Locally Owned Restaurants 3 Different Experiences ALL BY THE SAME CULINARY PROFESSIONALS

Seafood & Sushi for the whole family

Fresh from the Gulf Local Ingredients Southern Hospitality

210 HARBOR BLVD. | DESTIN, FL | 850.460.8900 | BROTULAS.COM 56 HARBOR BLVD. | DESTIN, FL | 850.424.3507 | EASTPASSSEAFOOD.COM 36120 EMERALD COAST PKWY. | DESTIN, FL | 850.460.2909 | JACKACUDAS.COM 30 brotulas.indd 1

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Shopping & Retail Outdoor Furniture Bay Breeze Patio

Wine Shop/Liquor Store Beach Liquors Seafood Market Blalock Seafood & Specialty Market

Women’s Accessories Cheetah Chix Boutique Men’s Clothing o t tfitt r

Shopping/Lifestyle Center Destin Commons Place to Spoil Him Ecco Motors

Jewelry Emerald Lady Jewelry

Furniture isidro dunbar MODERN INTERIORS Eyeglasses/Sunglasses Mollega Eye Care Children’s Clothing Pink N Blue Avenue

Gift Shop Sea and Sand Jewelry

Locally Owned Retailer Sea and Sand Jewelry

Place to Spoil Her Serenity by the sea Spa

Home Décor/ Accessories Stock & Trade Design Co

Shoe Store Sunset Shoes & Lifestyles Women’s Clothing Today’s Boutique

Entertainment Place for a Date Bitterroot Food and Spirits

Place for a Weekend Getaway ot ffi

Charter Fishing Experience Charter Boat Huntress

Place to Take the Kids LuLu’s Destin

Place to Go Dancing Bric à Brac Restaurant & Bar

Place to Watch a Sunset Cruisin’ Tikis Destin

Party Boat Experience Destin Princess/ Destiny Party Boat Fishing Place for Girls Night Out HarborWalk Village Place to be Seen HarborWalk Village

Hotel Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Golf Course Kelly Plantation

Water Sports Experience Power Up Watersports Resort Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Local Annual Event Sandestin Wine Festival

Place to People Watch The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Health & Wellness Medical Spa Aqua Medical Spa

Urgent Care Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast

Podiatrist Bay Foot & Ankle Center

Pediatrician Coastal Pediatric Group, LLC Dermatology Practice Coastal Skin Surgery and Dermatology Vein/Vascular Care Coastal Vascular & Interventional

Pain Management CRYO850 Performance & Recovery

Anti Aging Destin Botox at Smileology Medical Practice Destin Plastic Surgery Plastic Surgery Destin Plastic Surgery

Chiropractic Clinic Emerald Coast Chiropractic Miramar Beach Vision Care Eye Center South

Doctor Michael Stickler, MDDermatology Specialists of FL Women’s Wellness Provider Mitchell Silver, MD Dental Practice Nathan Hall, DMD

Aesthetician Patricia SgobbaDestin Plastic Surgery Weight Loss Renew Aesthetics & Anti-Aging Clinic Cosmetic Dentist Smileology

Orthodontist Stubbs Orthodontics

Alternative/Natural Medicine The Aesthetic Clinique IVbar30A

Senior Living Community The Blake at Miramar Beach

Medical Center White-Wilson Medical Center

Wedding & Bridal Place for Stationery/Invites Frill Seekers Gifts

Place for Rehearsal Dinner Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano

Wedding Venue Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Place to Buy Wedding Dress Simply Elegant Bridal

Place to Pop the Question Henderson Park Inn

Place to Buy Engagement Ring McCaskill & Company Place to Get a Tuxedo Men’s Wearhouse

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Place for a Massage Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Wedding Planner Nicki Cox- Island Sands Beach Weddings

Reception WaterColor LakeHouse

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Limo/Transportation Service 654LIMO, Inc. Charity/Non-Profit Alaqua Animal Refuge Hair Salon Allyson Salon and Spa

Place for Eyelashes, Nails, or Makeup Allyson Salon and Spa

Specialty Cleaning Service ARC Chimney Sweeps

Real Estate Company Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - PenFed Realty Pest Control/Wildlife Management Bryan Pest Control


Flooring Destin Flooring America Florist Destin Floral Designs

Bank/Financial Institution Eglin Federal Credit Union Golf Cart/ATV Electric Cart Company Sign Company Eloquent Signs

Title Company Emerald Coast Title Services, LLC Event Planner Emily BuckleyEmerald Grande at HarborWalk Village

Photographer Cathy Catanese

Property Management Five Star Beach Properties

Alarm/Security Company Coastal Protection, Inc.

Luxury Automobile Sales Gregg Orr Pre-Owned Destin

Mortgage Lender CBM Mortgage

Real Estate - Residential Corcoran Reverie

IT Firm/Web Design CRC Data Technologies Accounting Firm Debra Henry, CPA

Specialty Contractor Destin Discount Granite & Cabinets

Beer Selection 3rd Planet Brewing Dessert Ben & Jerry’s

Place for Cocktails Bijoux

Bloody Mary Bitterroot Food and Spirits Outdoor Dining Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House

Crab Cakes Bric à Brac Restaurant & Bar Casual Dining Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer

Outdoor Bar Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer

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Credit Card Processing Gateway Payments

Boat Sales & Service Gulf Coast Boating Centers Heating & Air Service Gulfshore Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc.

Law Firm Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, LLC

Event Venue Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

New Business Holloway Yacht Charters

Pet Care & Accessories Petland Fort Walton Beach

Insurance Firm Insurance Zone

Homebuilder Randy Wise Homes

Customer Service Insurance Zone

Interior Design Firm isidro dunbar MODERN INTERIORS

Real Estate Professional- Female Jacqui Luberto Realty ONE Group Emerald Coast Architect JDF Architecture Banker Lane ReddingProgress Bank

Cleaning Service Maids in Action Cleaning Services

Real Estate - Commercial Mary Anne Windes, CCIMReal Estate Professionals of Destin Inc. General Contractor Michael SpicerSpicer Design Build, Inc.

Cocktails & Cuisine Margarita Cantina Laredo

Chef Chef Al MassaBrotula’s Seafood House & Steamer Italian Restaurant Clemenza’s at Uptown Breakfast Crackings Burger Fatboys

Catering Gather & Graze on the Emerald Coast

Locally Owned Restaurant HOLI Indian Restaurants Buffalo Wings Island Wing Company

Vacation Rental Company Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.

Public Relations Firm Proffitt PR

Real Estate Professional- Male Royce W. Mitchell

Payroll Firm/Human Resources SimpleHR Real Estate Team Some Beach GroupKris Laidlaw & Chris Bent

Automobile DealershipPre Owned Step One Automotive Group Automobile Dealership- New Step One Automotive Group Automobile Repair/Service Step One Automotive Group Pool Building/Service Sunset Blues Pool Service

Interior Designer/Decorator Todd D. Reeves

Financial Advisor William Edward Blanken, Jr. Blanken Management Landscaping/Lawn Service Wyscape

Asian Jasmine Thai

Happy Hour Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina Fine Dining Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Bartender Maggie White - Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House

Oysters Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar

Sushi Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi

Pizza Landshark’s Pizza Company

Special Occasion Restaurant Marina Cafe BBQ Moe’s Original BBQ Appetizer Pazzo Italiano Ristorante & Bar

Mexican/Latin American Restaurant Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant

Steakhouse Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood

Gumbo Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House

Seafood Restaurant Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House Brunch Sunset Bay Cafe

Wine List Vin’tij Food & Wine

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Business Profile

Never Worry About Moving Again story by Greg Alexander | photos by Alina Joukova-Seamon


s the area’s newest resort-style senior living community, The Blake at Miramar Beach offers services customized to residents’ lifestyles ranging from independent living to assisted living and even a secure memory care neighborhood. With an array of hospitality services including a concierge, three chef-prepared meals daily, a full-service salon and spa, transportation services, and an active lifestyle programs calendar, The Blake at Miramar Beach has something for everyone. Residents and family members can enjoy the piano bar and lounge, lush courtyards with outdoor fire and water features, full-feature theater with nightly movies, and a beautiful sunlit chapel. Blake residents can enjoy the right balance of privacy and hospitality within their apartment and with access to spaces for gathering with family and friends. Floor plans range from light-fi lled studios to two-bedroom residences with options including balconies or porches overlooking the courtyard. Ten-foot ceilings and traditional millwork add to the sense of spaciousness, while walk-in closets and pantries offer plenty of storage options. The Blake offers a robust activities calendar allowing residents to enjoy events both on and off campus. Residents have come to enjoy the surrounding area through beach trips, dining out, and more. On-site, they have experienced informative speakers, artists, authors, and creating custom delicacies in the activities kitchen. Each month, residents take a journey through a different era or country as part of the lifelong learning engagement. Taste of the season can be enjoyed along with live entertainment during weekly happy hours. 34


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The Blake at Miramar Beach offers services customized to residents’ lifestyles ranging from independent living to assisted living and even a secure memory care neighborhood. The Blake offers dining in a restaurant-style setting and state of the art expo kitchen. Each day, residents can enjoy a homemade feature or a sampling from the always available a la carte menu. The coffee shop and ice cream parlor provide the perfect mid-morning or late afternoon snack with offerings such as specialty coffee drinks made with freshly-ground coffee beans, baked goods, snacks, and fresh fruit. In addition to wonderful hospitality services, The Blake offers a wide range of wellness services to allow residents to age in place. Many residents and family members take comfort in knowing they have on-site nursing available 24-hours a day. Personalized wellness plans, wireless nurse call systems, healthcare and treatment assistance, along with an on-site primary care and outpatient rehab clinic provide the optimal balance of comfort and security for Blake residents. One word consistently heard repeated around the community is hospitality. Residents and families are impressed with how welcome everyone makes them feel and the staff at The Blake all have servants’ hearts that show through residents’ smiles. If you or a family member are interested in this type of living, you are encouraged to contact the sales team for a private tour where your visit will be personalized to your specific journey in the search for senior living. Many ask when is the right time for assisted living? The Blake at Miramar Beach feels the right time is when you have found the right place. This senior community is surrounded with abundant opportunities for socialization, dining, medical services, and making memories. At The Blake, hospitality and retirement services are blended to create the best options and traditions for assisted living and memory care.

Thank you for voting us

BEST Senior Living Center!

Contact Us 850-650-5000 The Blake at Miramar Beach 90 Ponce De Leon Street | Miramar Beach, FL 32550 February 2022 | 35

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VIP Destin at Corcoran Reverie

Corcoran Reverie

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


s the rain came down on January 25, Destin Chamber members gathered to welcome a new friend to the community: Corocoran Reverie. Already established on the Emerald Coast, Corcoran Reverie’s agents specialize in the luxury home market from Destin to Panama City Beach. Additionally, their agents represent rental properties ranging from apartments to townhomes. However, on this special day the talk was not about the real estate market or transactions, it was a celebration of growth and success. After some mingling, good conversation, and light refreshments, the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting and champagne toast. Corcoran Reverie’s Broker/Owner, Hilary Farnum-Fasth addressed the crowd by acknowledging that the “support of the Chamber means a lot to us.” And with a snip of the ribbon, a few hoots and hollers, Corcoran Reverie officially opened for business.

Hilary Farnum-Fasth, Ivana Coteat, Trisha Marx, David Butler, Brenda Gray & Jacob Watkins

Bobby Parker & Libbi Cartwright

Ribbon Cutting February 2022 | 37

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VIP Destin at Corcoran Reverie Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Bill & Jodi Ketchersid

J. Alan Davis & Corey Birger

Kyle Hoch & Rob Augustine

Joe & Suzanne Simpson

Mike Tully & Rebekah Franklin

Elizabeth Spies & Kayla O’Leary

Jason Belcher & Shane Moody

Kersten Bowman & Conner Morrison 38

Amy Sasser & Bekah Manley

Allyson & Harrison Price


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Lisa Simpson, Tara Johnson & Crystal Newborn

Hilary Farnum-Fasth & Terésa Hebert



12889 Emerald Coast Parkway Suite 113B, Miramar Beach, FL


Christine Barnes, Jacob Watkins & Katie Bast

Paula Martins & Corrie Stichnoth


2254 South Ferdon Boulevard Crestview, FL February 2022 | 39

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Gowns Abound story by Anna Stockton


hether you’re in a krewe or have a black-tie affair coming up, there’s a good chance you’ll be shopping for a gown this year. Finding your perfect formal wear can be a bit overwhelming given all the choices. The good thing is there are options for every body type, personality, and style. Whether you’re one to stand on the edge of the dance floor sipping your champagne, or one to stand out on the dance floor, showing off your moves, you’ll look fabulous doing it.

Secret Agent (Wo)Man Sometimes “formal” doesn’t

necessarily mean formal in the traditional sense. So, ladies -- we must advocate for ourselves and put our detective skills to use by doing some serious recon. Ask someone who has attended the event what the attire was or go to social media or the event website to look at photos from years past to make sure you’ll be dressed appropriately.

Bringing Sexy Back One way to look amazing on the big night is to find a gown that accentuates your assets. If you’ve got rocking shoulders, a halter gown will expose all that hard work at the gym. Great legs -- a high/low dress will let you show them off. A backless dress is perfect for those sleek and sexy backs. Lady in Red A seasoned military wife once told me, everyone at the ball will be wearing black, be the one in red. While there’s nothing wrong with a black gown, choosing a dress with color, especially red, will surely make you stand out. You can go a step further and choose a dress with a pattern. Not only are they eye catching, but patterned dresses are usually good camouflage and more flattering. Mix, Mix, Mix it Up Mixed media is a term used when you

combine different materials or mediums in art, the same thing applies to fashion. Choosing a dress with feather, metal, and sequin details bring an interesting flair to your evening gown and make you stand out among others. It’s also a great way to show your personality while still dressing for a formal affair.

Underneath it All Ladies, I cannot stress this enough --

shapewear, shapewear, shapewear! Everyone uses it, even celebrities with amazing bodies, I promise. Shaping undergarments smooth out and hide any lumps or bumps you might have. Yes, you might sweat a bit trying to get them back on after a restroom trip but looking smooth in that dress will be well worth it.

“As Long as I‘ve got my Suit and Tie” Sorry JT -- not for

this formal affair. Formal fashion for men is far more facile as all you must do is follow the rules. Black tie means just that -- black tuxedo and bowtie. Pocket squares and cuff links can show your personality a bit, but it’s encouraged you don’t stray from the traditional attire. However, dark blue tuxedos and velvet dinner jackets are becoming more accepted these days as an alternative to the classic black tuxedo.

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VIP Destin at Shoreline Church

Teresa Allen, Claire Cassano, Mike Coupe’ & Shanel Paulus

Jerry Sullivan & Jennifer Gutai Comella


Business Before Hours & Annual Membership Meeting photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


hen you cross the threshold of Destin Chamber’s Business Before Hours meeting you are greeted with the delicious aromas of breakfast. Walk a few more feet and you begin to feel the electricity of businessmen and women telling stories and networking with each other. This past January 14, dozens of Chamber members convened at Shoreline Church to hug outgoing leaders and welcome in the new. Held monthly, January’s meeting was a dual one as the Annual Membership Meeting was combined with Business Before Hours. As the advocate for businesses, The Destin Chamber of Commerce works to strengthen the community and act “ the voice of business in government affairs.” Obviously these roles are important, but so are the interpersonal ones as noted by Shanel Paulus, branch manager for Hancock Whitney who observed that “business and relationships go hand-in-hand.” During this year’s event, outgoing Chairman, Jerry Sullivan, turned over the reigns to Jennifer Gutai Comella of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale. Jennifer warmly spoke of continuing to build relationships in order to “progress as a community.” She also teased a new insurance program for Chamber members. As community leaders said their goodbyes and headed out, each one walked under a sign above the door that summed up the whole meeting: “Every day is our chance to make this city a better place.” To learn more about the Destin Chamber of Commerce and area activities check out their Facebook page or visit

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Anna & Cody Knowles

Kevin Bowyer

Shane Moody

Ryan Holloway & Verla Price


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Hayward Dykes, Jr., Julie Cotton & Jason Belcher

Bill Mason, Kristin Moffitt & Melissa Read

Jerry Sullivan & David Butler

Bill Head, Heather Julseth & Fred Fenn February 2022 | 45

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Business Profile We’re here to help our customers have fun! We are honored to be a part of this incredible, beautiful community and we want to provide visitors and locals an experience that will create wonderful, lifelong memories. -Larry Cowsert


n early 2020 -- before the world stopped for Covid-19, Larry Cowsert heard how yacht owners in beautiful locations around the world were chartering their private luxury yachts to tourists for short excursions. The question arose: “Is this something that would go over in Destin and is anybody doing it, already?” Larry took a deep-dive into research and discovered that there were about 1,000 fishing yachts for every luxury motor yacht in Destin and less than a handful of luxury motor yachts were available for charter! So, the answer was YES! This could be a wonderful business opportunity and a great activity for visitors and locals alike. Parrot Head Yachts docks at East Pass Towers Marina, but they pick up passengers at several locations throughout Destin depending on the size of the party

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and catering options or -- if the passengers are dining before or after at a local restaurant. “From the first day we arrived in Destin, we felt a genuine warmth and charm in the folks we met. Everyone was so kind and supportive of our efforts,” stated Cowsert, operations manager. As everyone knows, making friends in Destin is easy. Cowsert found a church to feed his soul and is making every effort to try to give back more than he receives. Parrot Head Yachts became active in two chambers of commerce and area visitor’s centers, contributing to charitable events in support of these groups at every opportunity. A most recent and noteworthy endeavor was involvement in helping the Trees on the Coast project of building fencing along the dunes. Parrot Head Yachts further commits to the community by offering deep discounts to active duty and retired military and to the activities departments of all senior living facilities in the area.

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Parrot Head currently has a 52-foot Cruisers Express 5200 – The GG Marie. The GG Marie boasts a very large cockpit with a flat panel TV, barbecue grill, icemaker, and fridge. She has a very long bow that has accommodated up to 16 people watching dolphins. Below decks, she boasts a VIP cabin with a queen-size bed and full head, and a full-beam master cabin with king-size bed and a full head. There is a complete galley and salon with big screen TV and a 1,000-watt sound system throughout the vessel. The company’s charters can range from two to eight hours and include dolphin tours, Gulf Coast cruises, or Choctawhatchee Bay cruises. They’ll even customize a cruise to take passengers to Crab Island, Pensacola, or Panama City. Also on the menu is a specialty four-hour Brunch or Happy Hour charter that includes catering and beverages, or a two-hour Harbor Lights and/or Fireworks cruise. Future plans call for additional, larger vessels that will allow extended cruises out of Destin to New Orleans and even Key West for four and eight-day excursions. Parrot Head Yachts prides themselves on offering service that is a step or two above. There is no “set” cruise path or schedule, allowing the customer to decide where they want to go or what they want to see. They allow customers to bring aboard their own refreshments, but also provide soft drinks and snacks even on the most basic charter. Their greatest treasure is Captain Matt Davis. He is a native of Destin and a 21-year veteran of Destin’s waterways, having started driving fishing vessels at the tender age of 12. The captain holds a USCG Master Captain license and his lifelong experience on the water provides him insight into where the dolphins are at any given time of day and precisely what the tides and winds are doing. He also knows the ship from stem to stern, handling her so that passengers are ensured the nicest rides possible. Check out their website at for booking information and more details.

PARROT HEAD YACHTS OFFERS: • Luxury, Catered Excursions • “As You Like”, Laid Back and Unstructured Cruises • Crab Island Adventures • Harbor Lights/Fireworks • Dolphins at Play • Business Meetings/Presentations • Corporate Awards for Top Achievers • Family Vacation Fun • Wedding Proposals • Bachelorette and Bachelor Parties • Anniversaries • Birthday Celebrations • Special ruises for Residents

ualified ssisted Living

• Special Cruises for Agencies Working with Disabled Veterans • Ashes at Sea - Bereavement Services with Spreading of Ashes in the Gulf of Mexico

“Explore. Enjoy. Experience Yacht Life!” PARROT HEAD YACHTS, LLC | PARROTHEADYACHTS.COM | (850) 980-5824 46-47 Business Profile_Parrot Head Yachts.indd 2

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VIP Destin at J. Leon Gallery+Studio

photos & story by Greg Alexander


he first 2022 Sip N’ Stroll event at J. Leon Gallery+Studio kicked off with quite an impression. The bright, expansive gallery was loaded with guests, friends, artists, and purveyors of fine art for this event showcasing some of the most acclaimed regional and local artists. Upon entering, guests were greeted with champagne, wine, beautiful cupcakes, fruit, and snacks. Sip N’ Stroll is hosted on the first Friday of each month, providing attendees a one-on-one opportunity to meet the artists and view their works. For the January Sip N’ Stroll, gallery owner and artist, Jason Lindblad impressed all in attendance with the way he fl ipped the gallery -- curating artists and pieces that were perfect complements of art. The combination of mediums, colors, and concepts was a sensory pleasure. Many guests were locals, but others attended from all over the South and as far away as Oklahoma City, OK. J. Leon Gallery includes works by painters, mixed media artists, ceramics artists, sculptors, illustrators, and a jewelry artist. Attend the next Sip N’ Stroll to tour the gallery, meet your new favorite artist, and see their fully functioning ceramics studio.

Sean & Pam Patty, Kirk McCarley

Kathy Schumacher & Gayle Campbell

Jorge Saiz, Sue Perez & Todd Reeves

Sereen Gualtieri, Maxine Orange & Cindy Miller

Participating Artists February 2022 | 49

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VIP Destin at Sip N’ Stroll

Shawn Tomasello & Todd Reeves

Terri & Bob Hudgens

Kevin Vokovich & Roy Calvin Eure

Allison Rose & Marianna Morales

Carrie Ritchie & Kyle Peck

Shantelle Dedicke & Jason Lindblad

Nick & Taylor Comer

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Nancy Bown & Barb Isaacson


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VIP Destin at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Remaining Relevant photos & story by Zhalman Harris


PRA Northwest Florida Coast Chapter held their first Networking luncheon for 2022 on January 18th. Known as the Champagne Chapter, this group had mimosas/champagne toast to kick off the first meeting of the year. The event was sponsored by Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood at the Hilton Sandestin. Guests enjoyed a presentation from Mark Schaefer focusing on remaining relevant in a fast-changing world. He touched on some components which are valuable in today’s world where things have changed so drastically, making it hard for businesses, brands, and individuals to stay relevant. One major point he mentioned was Cumulative Advantage -- the ability for a person or brand to gain a small advantage over others that will compound over time into an increasingly larger advantage. For example, two separate individuals putting money into an interest account, one putting one thousand dollars and the other putting in ten thousand dollars. Over the same period the individual with the more money invested would have a greater advantage with more money added. “He’s such a wealth of knowledge, I always have so many takeaways,” said M. Shaye Smith, past president of Northwest Florida Coast Chapter. She also gave a big shoutout to Seagar’s for sponsoring, along with their partners, Zplus Media, Beachworx, and Scarlett Magazine, and thanks to Magnolia Fisher Candles for the tasty cookies and candles. Fabulous door prizes were also awarded to some lucky winners before the end of the event.


Chelsea Scott & Maria Carbone

Maggie Weaver & Bridgette Hoffman

Mary Aho & Tammy Barber

Nicole Partridge & Verla Price

Mayeska Sand & Frank Berte


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Ashley Townsend, Maggie Weaver & Maggie White

Chad Crane & Brandi Newman

Jeff George & Christie Solomon

Richard Olivarez & Evgeniya Stetsenko February 2022 | 55

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VIP Destin at Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries

J. Wren Supak

Ron Nation & Sarah Hawkins

Opening Reception

Dr. Devin & Judy Stephenson



photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

attie Kelly Arts Center Galleries at Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) was host to PINPOINT on January 22. PINPOINT, a solo exhibition by Wisconsin Artist Joshua D. Wilichowski, captivated attendees with the question: “Why would an artist spend hundreds of hours laboriously drawing a utilitarian object like a stairwell or trashcan”? As guests stepped into the warmth of the gallery, they were greeted with refreshments and warm smiles from NWFSC’s President Dr. Devin Stephenson and Art Gallery Director Wren Supak. On hand were visitors from throughout the area, including Niceville’s Mayor, Dan Henkel. Speaking on the artist’s pen drawings, Wren noted that Joshua is from a rural area in Wisconsin and that is why his pieces reflect rural living. Wren noted that “he spends hundreds of hours meditatively drawing and if you surprised him, he would have to start over.” Now that’s focusing on one’s passion. While everyone knows that it takes courage and skill to complete a piece of art, Dr. Stephenson reminded guests that “’s another thing to have a calling and a passion.” Art resonates with each person differently and Lesha Porche, NWFSC Adjunct Professor of Drawing, shared with VIP Destin the importance of public viewings. “When the public gets to view an original, they have a renewed appreciation of art.” Jody Wait from Crestview brought an aspiring artist to the reception, her daughter Lexi. “Lexi is interested in art so I thought it would be good to come over and meet some artists.”

Connie Cruz

Lexi & Jody Wait

Jasmine Richardson & Jadyn Richardson

Su Zin, Jayden Olivarez, Marcus Rodriquez & Richard Olivarez February 2022 | 57

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VIP Destin at Opening Reception PINPOINT

Whitney Rutherford & Melissa Wolf-Bates

Jessica Mincy & Shandra DeJournette


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Crawfish is King T

story by Anna Stockton

he Gulf Coast has many things residents are passionate about, such as talking about hurricanes (the one they went through is always worse than the one you experienced), Mardi Gras, and of course Saints football. However, few things are as revered as those beloved mudbugs, the crawfish. The crawfish festivals, the cookbooks, the history, and even the music -- Elvis Presley had a song titled “Crawfish” from his fi lm King Creole. And while these red crustaceans are harvested as far away as the Pacific Northwest, crawfish are most closely associated with the state of Louisiana and their culture, going back as far as the very first residents. Crawfish, also known as crayfish or crawdads, have played a large role in the history along the Gulf Coast, especially Louisiana. Long before the European settlers arrived in the area, crawfish was a main staple in the diets of Native Americans. They were eaten fresh as well as dried and preserved for times when food wasn’t readily available. It was so much a part of the native culture that Louisiana’s Houma tribe used the crawfish as their war emblem as well as considering them their spiritual ancestor, also known as their totem. This was because the crawfish is known to raise its claw during a fight and never back down. Largely known as a poor man’s food, and even

used as bait, by the late 1800s the appeal of these captivating crustaceans slowly spread beyond Louisiana into the rest of the country. By the mid 1900s crawfish became a full-on delicacy and demand was high, restaurants started putting dishes such as crawfish etouffee on their menus. Coinciding with this new interest in crawfish, the town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, became known as the crawfish capital of the world and hosted the very first crawfish festival. The biggest boom in crawfish popularity came from an unlikely source -- the Vatican. In the 1960s the Vatican eased up on the strict Lenten rules regarding fasting and meat and allowed for fish to be eaten daily during lent. This new factor, combined with the season of lent falling during the height of crawfish season, caused a huge demand for crawfish and a new market was born. Commercial harvesting of crawfish didn’t happen until the late 1800s. The first recorded harvest was just over 23,000 pounds, valued around $2,140, and by 1908 the harvests were recorded at around 88,000 pounds. As the years went on, advances in fishing technology and efficiency allowed fishermen to bring in more crawfish than ever before but outside factors such as water levels, weather, and overall climate were still the deciding factors for a good harvest. Enter crawfish farms! By the mid February 2022 | 61

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Crawfish Boil


3 lbs. (1.3 kg) crawfish 8 -10 cups water 6 oz. (170 g) Louisiana Crawfish Shrimp & Crab Boil 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning 1 head garlic, unpeeled but separated 3 ears corn, cut into 2-inch pieces 12 oz. (340 g) small red potatoes, halved 14 oz. (400 g) smoked sausage, cut into chunky pieces DIRECTIONS: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add Louisiana Crawfish Shrimp and Crab Boil, Cajun seasoning, and Lemon Pepper seasoning. Sitr well. Bring to a rolling boil. Add garlic, corn, potatoes, sausage, and lemon slices. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Taste the crawfish boil water. If it’s too salty, add more water. If it’s too bland, add more seasonings to taste. Transfer the crawfish into the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes, with the lid on. Turn off the heat and let the crawfish soak for 10 minutes. Remember, the longer the crawfish soak, the spicier they will be. Remove all the ingredients using a strainer and serve immediately.

1980s when crawfish demand was high and rice prices were low, rice farmers were looking for ways to use their land for profit again. With the help of the LSU Agriculture program, rice fields were flooded to make way for crawfish farms, creating a steadier harvest for the crawfish industry. Crawfish are a versatile ingredient when it comes to cooking. Etouffee, crawfish mac and cheese, po boys, crawfish pie -- the list is as long as the Atchafalaya Basin. But when it comes to crawfish dishes, the crawfish boil is king! Sure, the corn, potatoes, crawfish, and seasoning make for a great meal, but crawfish boils are all about getting together with friends, family, and community to reconnect and enjoy one another. During crawfish season, propane tanks are heating up the stockpot, backyards are full, and generations are coming together to enjoy this local favorite and Gulf Coast staple. 62


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VIP Destin at Walkabout at Idyll Hounds, Distillery 98 and 30A TV

Joint Business After Hours photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


arking was tight yet the scents from Cajun food and BBQ from Walkabout at Idyll Hounds kept everyone’s minds off the congestion and extremely cool temperatures. Known as “ of the most popular networking events in the area”, the January 20 Joint Business After Hours with Bay County was sponsored by Capital City Bank & Capital City Home Loans. As attendees mingled, it was obvious that the Florida winter weather was going to keep most from the “walkabout” portion of the evening. However, hearty souls could be seen telling stories near the heat sources. In such a laid-back atmosphere one would think that no one was really thinking about or talking business. However, Barry Tate, Panama City Beach Chamber Ambassador, was quick to share the importance of being a part of the local chamber. “Being a chamber member helps others find resources,” he smiled, then added, “as an ambassador, it’s also fun.” Much can be said for how important networking events can be for any business, even a nonprofit. “We are a small but mighty team and attending chamber events helps us form new connections so we can increase our reach,” said Kelly Jasen, United Way – Emerald Coast, President and CEO. And so it goes: food, fun and fellowship outside the confines of the office builds bridges and strengthens ties. For more information on future Walton Area Chamber events, visit their Facebook page.

Kathy & Scott Jarrett

Joey & Betsy Kirkland

Barry Tate & Chris Marah

Thomas & Kim Jacobson

Tim & Rick Koehnemann

Alesia & Bert Smith February 2022 | 65

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VIP Destin at Walkabout at Idyll Hounds, Distillery 98 and 30A TV

Kent Vancil & Jeff Houd

John Michael Bermes & Penny Forster

Kristopher McLane & Evgeniya Stetsenko

Gary White & Gino Redaelli 66

John & Julia Daum

Kelly Jasen & Gina Stephens

Ryan Davis & Jim Chizek

Brooke Bush & Julia Dohanyos

Terry Mauer & Julia Daum

Kittee Stewart & Kristin Moffitt


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Tristan LaNasa, Debra Eldridge & Stephen Barber

K N THA YOU for voting

Kat Tomlinson, Paige Mooneyham & Anna Pokhilko

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Stephen Stabler, Catherine Williams, Marty Williams & Bart Begley

Doug Kinzer, Greg Voyzey & Marlee Tucker February 2022 | 67

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VIP Destin at HarborWalk Village

photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


hile 2022 was ushered in with mild temperatures, the middle of the month saw the overnight temperatures plummet into the 30s and 40s. Not to be shaken by the weather, HarborWalk Village staff gave a green light to the Sunday, January 16 activity: Brunch, Rhythm and Brews. Hosted by HarborWalk Village favorites: Harry T’s, Margaritaville, and Rhumcay Island Grille, visitors to the village were treated with delicious menu options and a free concert. Playing from 2:00 – 4:00pm, the husband-and-wife duo from Slingo had a motto for the day: “if you don’t stop dancing you won’t get cold.” Bundled up for the concert were visitors from as far away as Vermont. Guests all across HarborWalk noted that they were happy to be in Destin as the temperatures from home (e.g. New York , Colorado, and Vermont) were a lot colder than Florida’s. Village employees also commented on the weather. Kyle Empson, manager at Harry T’s, was very excited about the day’s turnout, noting, “With it being a holiday weekend, we were anticipating a high turnout, and even with the nor’easter weather, turnout exceed expectations.” Over at Margaritaville, Manager Tracy Kiple reminded everyone that “even when the weather turns cold, fins are up at Margaritaville, Destin.”

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Daniel & Carol Mast

Lisa Malpass & Kathy Boone

Greg & Amber Mandel

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VIP Destin at Lulu’s Destin

LuLu’s Noon Year’s Eve photos & story by Kay Phelan

Amelia Peeples & Captain Davy


inging in the new year was a unique, just for kids event at LuLu’s restaurant in Destin at their 6th Annual Noon Year’s Eve celebration. It was non-stop, kidfriendly fun for the whole family with excitement around every corner as LuLu’s celebrated the New Year. The day featured arts and crafts, face painting, live music, and more. The highlight of the event was the kid’s countdown to noon with a huge ball drop of more than 1,200 beach balls on the sandy beach overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay and kid-safe ‘fireworks.’ “The kids not only enjoyed the beach ball drop, but after that, they had as much fun stomping on the bubble wrap ‘fireworks’ on the walkways throughout the restaurant,” commented LuLu’s GM, Vanessa Owens. “Once again, on behalf of our owner, Lucy Buffett, we were proud to offer such an enjoyable family day for the community and wish a happy new year to all.”

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Best General Contractor!

Michael Spicer | 850.685.5133 |


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1/31/22 12:10 AM

VIP Destin at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Dolphin Oasis

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


xcitement fi lled the salty air of Okaloosa Island on January 18 as dozens of people on Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking on a multi-million dollar expansion. Known far-and-wide as a destination marine park, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been a neighbor in the community since 1955. Willis C. Merrill III, Gulfarium President, made everyone aware that in the 1950s the pioneering habitat provided “... top-notch animal welfare… [for] all of our resident animals. Today we are excited to build expanded habitats fully suited to an animal’s long-term needs through all stages of their lives, and so the time has come to create something new.” Opening in 2023, Collier Merrill, Gulfarium Board Member, outlined the goals for the Dolphin Oasis as threefold: provide for animal welfare, offer a high-quality guest experience, and continue with the Gulfarium’s focus on conservation education. All of this comes as a result of the design provided by MIG|Portico out of Seattle, WA. Jacob Dumler, Director of Experience Design said, “Our experience brought authenticity to the space to make it feel like an extension of local waters.” Coming off a record breaking 2021, the Gulfarium staff and supporters were beaming as they talked about the future. Accredited by the Alliance of Marine Parks & Aquariums and the International Animal Trainer’s Association, this new habitat is cutting edge and will provide the opportunity not only for learning, but also for hosting events such as weddings. During construction of the 2-acre Dolphin Oasis the main habitat will remain open. To learn more about the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or the expansion, visit the Gulfarium on Facebook at

Ankur Rana, Rick Starr & Steven Scarpinato

Kristen Disette & Ivanta Coteat

Don Edwards & Kim McIntosh

Chance Barnes & Jacob Dumler

Chance Barnes, Jacob Dumler, Eric Navarre, Collier Merrill, Patrick Berry, Jane Renfroe & Willis C. Merrill III February 2022 | 75

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VIP Destin at Dolphin Oasis Groundbreaking Ceremony

Katie Unkle with Toto

Stacy DiDonato

Jo Pelhan

Patrick Berry

Ted Corcoran

Chelsea Conley & AnnMarie 76

Lauryn Burris

Aimee Brim & Mary Kate Northrup


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“Have an Adventurous Day!”



Thanks for voting us Best Watersports Experience!

The Only Watersports Company Powered By A Hydroflight Champion!

your beach vacation!

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Performances by owner, Ben Merrell We offer pontoon boat and jet ski rentals

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February 2022 | 77

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VIP Destin at Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort


Mentor Appreciation photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


he Walton Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off their monthly Power of Business lunch by showing appreciation to the area’s mentors on January 20th. Sponsored by Mentoring Emerald Coast, leaders from all walks of life gathered at the beautiful Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort by Vacasa, to network and enjoy a time of fellowship with like-minded individuals. Speaking on “The Impact of Mentorship”, Catherine Morgan, founder of Inspired Bridges Consulting, reminded those in attendance to “ask questions and be a good listener, lead by example...and celebrate progress, not perfection.” She stressed that “really great mentors focus on the whole person, not just the career.” For many emerging leaders, it is a mentor that helps the mentee break out of themselves to become a key member of the community. Having core values revolving around excellence, integrity, and innovation, the Walton Area Chamber strongly supports mentorship through its programs. To learn more about Leadership Walton go to the Chamber’s “Programs & Events” tab at https://www.


Bekah Nelson & Laura Hudson

Allison Smith & Elizabeth Baugher

Cory Godwin & Verla Price

Todd Scali & Nicole Partridge

Mike Anderson & Katie Bast

Ann & Duaine Kief


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Dani Streichert, Holly Onda & Maria Wilson

Jennifer Cosson, Chrissy Gibson & Angie Resiak

Catherine Morgan & David Butler

We are beyond thankful and appreciate each one of you for your continued support, friendship, and walking with us every step of the journey. We are the one and only boutique for children in Destin, with over 250 lines, many new additions, and our own store is about to be built. Seven years later and our dreams have come true because you stood by us and made it possible. Thank you for your votes and this amazing year!

Thank you for voting us

Best Children’s Clothing

The Beaufort Bonnet Company | Bogg Bag Saltwater Sandals | Minnow | Maileg Jellycat | Kickee Pants | Posh Peanut Judith Watkins, Gina Rutherford & Keely Taylor (850) 424-5707 4339 Legendary Drive D112, Destin, FL 32541 February 2022 | 79

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Tired of waiting on hold when calling 1-800 numbers? Need on-site customer service?

Josh Foster, co-founder of Gateway Payments



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story by Anna Stockton


he hurricane is believed by most to be the official drink of New Orleans -- what with its imposing presence along the beloved city’s streets during Mardi Gras, or just a Wednesday. However, the actual official drink of New Orleans is a much more sophisticated cocktail served in a lowball glass rather than souvenir cups and is mixed in the city’s finest establishments as opposed to to-go bars. The mysterious history of the Sazerac is as elusive as New Orleans history itself, going from a concoction rumored to have been mixed up by a pharmacist to what the world recognizes as the official drink of New Orleans. Believe it or not, there was a day when New Orleans residents thought themselves and their town too classy to house such low-rent establishments as bars or saloons. Instead, they had “coffee houses,” which were really the same concept, only without the pearlclutching, disgraceful nature of a raucous saloon. While the actual history of the Sazerac is a bit of a mystery, most credit the unique New Orleans “coffee houses” as having launched this classic cocktail into NOLA culture. According to most, it all began when Antoine Amadee Peychaud, a Creole pharmacist, or apothecary as the profession was known then, mixed up a concoction that would later be known as Peychaud Bitters and combined it with his favorite French cognac, Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. It was wildly popular among his Mason friends and Peychaud sold it to coffee houses as a restorative tonic for “cases of general debility” and was advertised with the saying “agreeable taste is not the least of its recommendations.” In the late 19th century, the phylloxera epidemic nearly wiped out the vineyards in France thus affecting the availability of cognac for the United States. Not to be deterred from their new-found coffee house favorite, cognac was replaced by American rye whiskey. Shortly after the recipe was altered, and because life just wasn’t dangerous enough then, a bartender named Leon Lamothe added Absinthe to the mix, literally. Soon after its addition to the Sazerac recipe, Absinthe, also known as Black Death because of its black licorice flavor, was banned due to its dangerous qualities -and not because of the hallucinations it caused (I’m sure). After this development, Peychaud’s bitters were added to the Sazerac once again and this classic cocktail remains deeply embedded in New Orleans culture.

The Sazerac is synonymous with New Orleans and there is even a museum called the Sazerac House. Housed in a historic building at the corner of Canal and Magazine streets, the museum gives you a history of cocktail culture in New Orleans with a specific focus on Sazerac history. You can find out the methods for distilling whiskey and also taste bitters for yourself. Another monument to the impact Sazerac has had on the culture is the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. This bar has been serving the signature cocktail since 1938 and is well known as the place to try this potent concoction. Also, from Sazerac fame came the Sazerac company, a wellknown distillery throughout North America and into Canada that most famously distills Buffalo Trace whiskey. This company is rumored to have roots in the infamous coffee house, the Sazerac House. The good thing is that you don’t have to be in New Orleans to try this cocktail. You can don your best Mardi Gras attire (or your pajamas, no judgement here) and sip on a Sazerac in the comfort of your very own home. February 2022 | 81

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SAZERAC Ingredients:

1 cube sugar 1½ oz. Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon ¼ oz. Herbsaint 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters lemon peel


Pack an old-fashioned glass with ice. In a second old-fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Remove the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, discarding the remainder. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

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Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel circa 1930’s

1/31/22 12:19 AM

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VIP Destin at The Palms

Ian & Haley Blaise

Eric Gillum, Brenda Gray & Michelle Royce

Destin Chamber’s Tourism Lunch photos by Zhalman Harris story by Elizabeth Spies


n January 19, the Destin Chamber’s Tourism and Hospitality group met for lunch at The Palms Sports Lounge to hear Matt Tuchman, VISIT FLORIDA’s new Regional Partnership Manager for the Northwest Florida Region. He provided statistics on state tourism, as well as shared VISIT FLORIDA’s national and international marketing and branding plans. The Tourism and Hospitality Group’s mission is to bring value to the Destin tourism community through training and information and to become a unified voice of hospitality-based businesses whose success is centered on the tourism industry in our area.


Regina Sami & Joshua Allen

Maya Schilder & Jennifer Wilson

Joe Sinopeoli & Ginger Holder

Shane Moody, Matt Tuchman & Ken Wampler

Emily Brinkman & Annie Hays


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Antoinette Hale & Amanda Reeves

Thank you for voting us Best Catering. We are so proud to be a part of this community! Jade Kelley & Tim Wood

Phillip Olivier & Jesse May

Check us out at @gatherandgraze_emeraldcoast Gather & Graze Emerald Coast - Posts | Facebook

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thank you for voting us Best Place to Watch a Sunset!

(850) 200-0573 Suzette Smith & Jason Hall

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Charter Fishing Experience



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LOCALE O Destin Brewery Partners with Dog-Harmony to Launch AwardWinning Ale Featuring Rescue Dogs Destin Brewery collaborated with DogHarmony to feature long-term shelter dogs on the label of the Dog-Harmony Ale launched in November 2021.

directly supports Dog-Harmony’s humane education programs and, of course, increases the chances of Koda finding his furever home. Please see the press release below announcing Corcoran Reverie’s first dualaffiliated agent in Florida and Texas. Attached is a PDF version of the release and an accompanying photo. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information. Corcoran Reverie Announces First Dual-Affiliated Agent

Dog-Harmony founder, Nancy Bown, says, “The goal of the beer is to raise awareness for long-time shelter dog cases so that they can get adopted by their forever families. Once that dog is adopted, we will feature the next long-time rescue dog resident from an animal shelter in the Panhandle.” The first dog gracing the label is Koda, a brindle, 18-month-old American bulldog residing at Dog-Harmony since November 2020. When his previous rescuer went into hospice care, Bown moved Koda to DogHarmony and began basic, then advanced, obedience training. Koda is friendly with other dogs and cats and seeks an active family familiar with large breeds and rescues. His favorite game is to play tug-of-war with his furry friends. Destin Brewery’s Dog-Harmony Ale is a German Kölsch-style ale. Owners, Chelsea and Kelly Taylor, say they “developed this recipe because we wanted to make a flavorful ale, but also make it light and crisp like a lager. It is a very easy drinker that pairs well with our culinary region favoring seafood dishes.” The ale won Platinum in the World Beverage Competition and Bronze in the New York International Beer Competition in 2019. It also won Bronze in the New York International Beer Competition in 2021. The Taylors “are very proud of this brew!” Visit the Dog Harmony website to learn more about adopting. Pop in to the dogfriendly Destin Brewery tap room or any BŌTE location to buy the award-winning Dog-Harmony Ale. A portion of the proceeds

Corcoran Reverie announced that Brenda Quiroga is the brokerage’s first dual-affiliated agent. Quiroga is a licensed real estate agent at Corcoran Reverie in Seagrove Beach and is now also a licensed real estate agent with Corcoran Ferester Realty, north of Houston, TX. Corcoran Ferester Realty is one of Corcoran Group LLC’s newest affiliates, launched in December 2021, and the firm’s first affiliate in Texas. “It is such an awesome opportunity to be able to represent the Corcoran brand in both Florida and Texas,” said Quiroga. “Being in both markets will help me with an even stronger pipeline of business, since Texas has such a large population of secondhome owners here in Florida.” Quiroga has been a licensed real estate agent for more than twenty years. Known as “Brenda Q” by most and the “Florida agent” by her clients in Texas, she has worked in all facets of real estate. Quiroga has received numerous awards and certifications throughout her career, ranking in the top 2% of Greater Houston Area Real Estate Professionals for Overall Client Satisfaction. She is also listed in the top 6% of agents with the Houston Association of Realtors. With a tagline of “Boots to Beaches,” Quiroga shares her love and expertise of Northwest Florida with her Texas clients and helps them trade in their boots for the beach – whether it is a second home or an investment property along the Emerald Coast.

“We are beyond excited that Brenda is our first dual-affiliated agent at Corcoran Reverie and will be able to serve both markets in this new journey of her career,” said Corcoran Reverie owner and broker, Hilary FarnumFasth. “I truly believe this will not only elevate Brenda’s real estate business in both Florida and Texas but will further the idea that Corcoran is wherever you are.” Impact100 of Northwest Florida 2022 Membership Recruitment Events

Impact100 NWF’s successful community outreach has granted over $3.6 Million within Okaloosa and Walton counties over the past 10 years. Impact100 welcomes women 18 years or older to come to a membership event, meet the members, and learn how they can become a positive force for good in their local community. Upcoming in-person Membership Recruitment Events are as follows: 2/17/2022 (Thu) 5:30-7:00 pm 790 (Destin) 2/27/2022 (Sun) 12:30-2:00 pm Solaris Yacht (Sandestin Marina - Docked) 3/10/2022 (Thu) 5:30-7:00 pm Clemenza’s at Uptown Station (Ft. Walton Beach) 3/15/2022 (Tue) 9:00-10:30 am Fort Walton Yacht Club (Ft. Walton Beach) 3/23/2022 (Wed) 5:30-7:00 pm 3rd Planet Brewery (Niceville) 4/26/2022 (Tue) 5:30-7:00 pm Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (Destin) Upcoming virtual Membership Recruitment Events on Zoom: 3/29/2022 (Tue) 5:30-6:30 pm Sharing the Vision 4/12/2022 (Tue) 5:30-6:30 pm Ready, Set, Grow Dates and locations subject to change. Visit or Facebook page @ ImpactNWF. February 2022 | 87

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LOCALE O F or women between the ages of 21 to 39, who may not have the financial resources to join Impact100 NWF , a scholarship called the NextGen Program is available. This gives young women an opportunity to become Impact100 NWF members and engage with the community while learning the lessons of philanthropy. The program aims to empower these women to be ambassadors for a generation that is dedicated to giving and serving in Okaloosa and Walton counties. To find out more and to apply for a NextGen scholarship visit nextgen-program/ The mission of Impact100 of Northwest Florida, Inc. is to financially support nonprofit organizations in Okaloosa and Walton C ounties by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging the geographic areas of our region, and by leveraging the talents of diverse women to be a positive force for good in our communities. Emerald Coast Theatre Company Presents Fourth Annual Storyteller Series E merald C oast Theatre C ompany continues its 9t h season with the return of the popular S toryTeller series, featuring professional actors and authors presenting compelling stories and dramatic works. R emaining S toryTeller pieces are on F ebruary 8 and M arch 1 at 7: 30 pm staged at E C TC ’s performance space located at 560 Grand Boulevard (upstairs) in Grand Boulevard at S andestin.

“Give ‘ em Hell Harry!” on F ebruary 8 features Alan Tuttle in S amuel Gallu’s one-man play. “Give ‘ em Hell Harry!” is a faithful and often humorous portrayal of President Harry S . Truman’s life and presidency spanning from his childhood to his years in the U .S . S enate and his momentous two terms as President. Tickets

range from $28 to $30 per person. Alan Tuttle has been involved in theater for nearly six decades.

The series concludes on M arch 1 with “S hirley S impson as K atharine Hepburn.” An unforgettable one-night-only event, Simpson embodies wit, charm, and fierce grit as K atharine Hepburn and gives a humorous and touching portrayal of the fiery and independent Hepburn throughout her career and the events and people who shaped her life. Tickets range from $25 to $30 per person. S hirley S impson most recently appeared on E C TC ’s stage as S hirley Valentine. “S tories are the heart and soul of theater,” said E C TC co-founder and producing artistic director Nathanael F isher. “The S toryTeller series is about sharing stories from local talent. We are thrilled to have these actors take the stage at E C TC again. E ach S toryteller performance is full of character, intrigue, and history.” C ome early (doors open at 6: 30 pm) to browse artwork by local artists showcased in the E C TC L obby Gallery. A portion of proceeds from each sale benefits ECTC and its education outreach and scholarship programs. Purchase tickets online at tickets or call (850) 684- 0323.

Spring Dates and Themes Announced for Northwest Florida State College’s Seagrass Restaurant S eagrass R estaurant is Northwest F lorida S tate C ollege’s C ulinary M anagement and Hospitality and Tourism M anagement programs’ student learning lab fine dining experience. With the area’s demand for skilled hospitality and culinary management professionals, the program is an incredible asset on the Niceville campus. Dining at S eagrass is offered at select times of the year in this teaching-learning environment. Offering multi-course themed menus during the spring 2022 semester, reservations are available by calling 850- 7 29- 5369 or email them at seagrass@ to reserve your seat. F or the spring dining experience, the students at S eagrass have devised different dining themes in order to broaden their skill set and allow their creativity to be honed. The following special themes are available with a maximum of 6 guests per table. F ebruary 3 - F rench, F ebruary 17 - C ajun/ C reole, M arch 3 - Braz ilian Gaucho Buffet, M arch 10 Italian, March 31 - Spain, April 7 - Pacific R im.

The multi-course meal includes a reception at 5: 30 pm for each event. Dinner seating is at 5: 50 pm and the cost is $28 per person. If you wish to add a wine flight to your meal the total price is $35. S eagrass R estaurant at Northwest F lorida S tate C ollege is designed to provide NWF S C C ulinary and Hospitality M anagement students a hands-on learning environment while showcasing their talents to the community. This program focuses on broad, transferable skills and stresses understanding and demonstration of elements of the culinary industry. C areers include sous chef, line cook, culinary manager, baking and pastry cook, personal chef, and more.

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A local boutique accounting firm committed to personalized client service.

February 2022 | 89

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Interview with

Moody, A R E A. | S H A R E CCE, FCCP, GI V E | C A R E | SGI H A RVEE | CShane

President & CEO ~ Destin Chamber What is the Destin Chamber of Commerce? The Destin Chamber is an organization focused on advancing the success of local businesses, community development and economic development. Our mission statement is “Advocating for Business, Strengthening our Community.”

story by Anna Stockton


any don’t think much about who looks out for and promotes local business development in the Destin area, it just sort of happens, right? Well, make no mistake, the Destin Chamber of Commerce is the force behind making this happen. For 56 years this organization, started by a group of local business leaders, has worked tirelessly to promote local businesses, community, and economic development. A volunteer board helps govern the chamber while a professional staff runs the organization. Chamber membership is made up of local businesspeople who all have the same goal, to promote their own local business and other local businesses, as well as strengthening the community of Destin. This organization helps their members, not only by encouraging their membership to do business with each other but they also provide products and services to help them grow and prosper. The Destin Chamber of Commerce’s website is a wealth of information on local businesses and the Destin area in general. Their business directory is broken up into categories, allowing for an easy search of participating businesses. Their calendar of events not only keeps you up to date on chamber events but many other local happenings. There’s also a “visit Destin” section with everything from beach webcams to lodging and information on things to do on your visit. The “live, work, relocate” pull down breaks down Destin by demographics, voting stats and economic information. It also helps with real estate information as well as education and local resources. The events hosted by the Chamber are not only a great networking opportunity that encourage doing business locally but are also fun and relaxing ways to get your business’s name out there. Their Business Before Hours, Business After Hours and their larger events all help the Chamber to reach their goal of helping local businesses flourish in Destin.

How did the Chamber come about? In 1966, a group of business leaders came together and decided it was time for Destin to begin promoting itself and its business community. They felt Destin needed its own voice and its own direction. It was truly a visionary move by these leaders. What impact does the Chamber have on the community? We impact the community in so many ways, there isn’t enough space here to tell you. We advocate for and support pro-business legislation at the local, state, and national levels. We promote local businesses by encouraging locals to do business with each other so that we can build a strong local economy. We work with the city staff and officials and county staff and officials for quality local development, while working to maintain the history and heritage of the community. Destin Forward, our leadership development and community education program, works to create hands-on experiences for class members to learn the issues facing our community and the ways to work through solutions for those issues. What events does the Chamber host? We have several monthly and bi-monthly events to support our members. We have a breakfast the second Friday of the month, a Business After Hours on the fourth Thursday of most months, a Tourism Industry Group Luncheon every other month, and Ladies Who Launch every other month. For major events, we have Paddle at the Park in August, the Chamber Golf Tournament in late September,

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Bourbon at the Bay in November, and the Annual Awards Gala and Holiday Party in December. All of these events are meant to bring local businesspeople together for networking and fun, and some even have education and information components built into them. How did you get involved with the Destin Chamber? I moved here in late-December 2003 to take the President and CEO role with the organization. I had been in the chamber profession in South Carolina and Georgia since 1993, and a volunteer for several years before that. When the position in Destin came open, I was lucky enough to be the one chosen. What’s your favorite thing about being involved with the Chamber? Every decision we make has a positive effect on tens of thousands of people to make our community better for residents and tourists alike. How can the someone get involved or support the Chamber? Joining the Chamber is the best way. You’ll be added to our email list and learn more than you ever wanted to know about what’s going on. You can also volunteer and assist us in promoting our probusiness agenda and move the success of the business community forward.



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850-654-5466 (LIMO)

• 24/7 live reservations and dispatch • Easy online reservations • Over 14 years experience • GPS tracking on all vehicles

221 Main Street Destin, Florida 32541

Providing Quality Car, Truck, & SUV Repairs • Oil change • Vehicle diagnostics • 27 point inspection • Cooling system flush • Factory maintenance schedule • Brake system flush • Brake system operation and inspections

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Serving Destin *Sandestin *Santa Rosa Beach * Seaside * Fort Walton Servicing all domestic vehicles and specializing on European models such as Audi, BMW and Jaguar see the website for full list. 93 654LIMO.indd 1

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FEBRUARY 11 Fire & Ice Gala - Walton Area Chamber Annual Gala Hilton Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort 4000 S Sandestin Blvd, Miramar Beach 5:30pm Celebrate the successes of the past year, share future visions, and enjoy top-notch entertainment. The blacktie optional gala includes a seated dinner, networking reception, and chamber awards ceremony. For ticket info visit


FEBRUARY 18 Wine & Fries Hotel Effie Sandestin 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd, Miramar Beach 6:00-9:00pm

Brunch Fest HarborWalk Village 10 Harbor Blvd, Destin 12:00-3:00pm Brunch bites, Bloody Mary’s, and bubbles galore will fi ll the Destin Harbor for this first annual event! You’ll be welcomed by a mimosa in hand as you make your way through the Village to taste and try all the yummiest foods from our area’s favorite brunch spots. After all, we know brunch is always a good idea!

Wine & Fries in partnership with Hotel Effie Sandestin, powered by Step One Automotive Group, features the iconic McDonald’s french fries paired with the perfect wine for a party with a purpose. Enjoy sipping wine, indulging your inner child with fries, and bidding on auction items, all to continue keeping families close at Ronald McDonald House.

For more details and to buy tickets visit

For more info visit wineandfries/.

FEBRUARY 18 & 19


33rd Annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival & Bloody Mary at the Beach Competition

Caring & Sharing of South Walton Spring Fashion Show

The Village of Baytowne Wharf 9100 Baytowne Avenue, Miramar Beach 12:00-4:00pm

Vue on 30A 4801 W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach 12:30 - 3:00pm

Join one of the largest and most popular winter food events along Florida’s Emerald Coast. Kick-off the weekend on Friday with a delicious Seafood Boil at Hammerhead’s Bar & Grill. On Saturday enjoy live music from Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe, family activities, and the best gumbo cook-off on the Gulf Coast. Visit for more event info and to purchase tickets.

Enjoy a fashion show, lunch, silent auction, photobooth, and DJ. Music, mingling, and boutique shopping is also included. Caring and Sharing volunteers and supporters will walk the runway modeling outfits made up entirely of items donated to the Caring & Sharing Thrift Store. All items modeled in the Fashion Show, along with other thrift store items, will be available to purchase in a popup boutique curated specifically for the event. For tickets and info call 850-267-2866.

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special events

Spot Lighting Audio Video Productions, Inc. EVENT SPECIALIST

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Elizabeth Spies

What is your hometown and how did you end up on the Emerald Coast? Born and raised in Montgomery, AL, I graduated from Auburn University with degrees in Marine Biology and Journalism. I began my career as a science writer for the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, VA. While I enjoyed my time in the Washington, D.C., area, I missed home and the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches. After two and a half years, I packed my bags, headed south, and landed a dream job in Destin in 2001. What is your profession? I’m Vice President of the Destin Chamber of Commerce. As a membership-based organization, the Chamber creates opportunities for its members to make meaningful business connections, is a source of educational and relevant business news, and advocates for a business-friendly climate at the local and state level. I chose this role because I love making a positive impact on local businesses. It is thrilling to hear from members about game-changing connections, projects, and relationships that have only come about through their involvement in the Destin Chamber. What are some of your favorite things about Destin? I love that Destin is a small, family-oriented community with big town amenities and an interesting history. Three words that best describe you. Hard-Working. Kind. Positive. Favorite place to go locally? My family and I are happiest when we are outdoors, exploring our area’s beautiful waterways, beaches, and parks. What is the one thing you would say you do not go a day without? I do not go a day without praising God for my family, my home, and my health. Finish this statement. I AM Destin because… There is not a better place on Earth to live, work, and raise my child. I am grateful for the role I have been given in this community and will continue to work daily for the benefit of Destin’s businesses, residents, and visitors. photo by Zhalman Harris

98 Iam Destin_Elizabeth Spies.indd 1

1/31/22 12:30 AM

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