VIP Destin Magazine - November 2022

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We’d like you to meet Carley Linder. Originally from Arizona, Carley moved here 3 years ago and fell in love with the Emerald Coast. She started as an agent in January and now sells residential properties all across the Emerald Coast. Carley Linder 850-865-9565 |

HURD REAL ESTATE & Co Bringing a Personal Touch to a Professional Service With offices in Gulf Breeze and on Hwy 30A, Hurd Real Estate & Co. serves buyers, sellers, and investors from Perdido Key to Panama City, and everywhere in between.

90 Spires Lane, Suite 6A Santa Rosa Beach Fl 32459 306 Gulf Breeze Parkway Gulf Breeze Fl 32561

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Give us a call! Gene ~ 850.565.0018 Amanda ~ 850.375.3570

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Volume XIX • Issue XI

events 13 AJ’s Reel Local Party & Kids Wagon Parade 17 7th Annual Bloody Mary Festival 20 Mentoring Emerald Coast Mixer & Fundraiser 24 Concert in the Village ~ Taylor Dayne LIVE! 26 Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker Dedication Ceremony 33 Impact 100 of Northwest Florida 2022 Grant Finalist Reveal 39 8th Annual Eggs on the Beach 42 Step One Motorsports Media Day 45 Destin Chamber Annual Golf Tournament 48 6th Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival 58 Destin Chamber Business Before Hours 62 Purses with a Purpose 66 Walton Area Chamber Power of Business Luncheon 68 Dinner of Dreams 75 An Evening with Patti LaBelle

on the cover Jessica Knowlton, Misty Rae Ruthrauff & Penny Wahab


departments 22 51 71 78

Coastal Cuisine Swizzle Give Care Share I Am Destin

features 29 2023 Best in Destin Ballot 36 Business Profile Emerald Coast Home Collective 54 Dining Dynamos

VIP Destin Magazine Staff Publisher Greg Alexander

Art Director Priscilla Atkins

Associate Publisher Verla Price

Content Creator Anna Stockton

Publisher’s Assistant Nicole Partridge

Contributing Writers/ Photographers Alicia Noble Tyler Noble Harley S. Sampson, Jr. Anna Stockton Savannah Vasquez

Photography by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

Advertising Stephanie Alvarez Kristin Moffitt Verla Price

at 8th Annual Eggs on the Beach

Graphic Design Patti Hall Alicia Noble

VIP Founder Jeff Watson


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letter from the Associate Publisher Eat, Pray, Love Sometimes a word or phrase sticks in your mind and will not leave. As I looked through the events and editorial for this issue, the title of a book and movie came to mind - Eat, Pray, Love. Years back, a friend suggested this read when I needed some inspiration. The story is of a woman’s travels as she searches for peace after weathering a divorce. She crosses Italy, where she learns to enjoy food again and India, where she regained her spirituality. While searching for balance in her life, she fell in love in Indonesia. The book was very enlightening, and the movie, starring Julie Roberts, was romantic and funny at times. This is an eye-opener if you want an excellent read on one of these cooler fall days. Why did my mind go to that book? In this issue pages of food related editorial awaits you. The Destin area was rocking annual events such as the Bloody Mary Festival, Eggs on the Beach, and The Harvest Wine and Food Festival. We threw in a few recipes such as Blackened Swordfish in Coastal Cuisine and some festive holidaythemed drinks in Swizzle. A couple of the area’s prominent chefs were featured in Dining Dynamos as well. While attending events, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, my heart is always happier when the speaker asks for a blessing of the meal. During the gatherings to raise money for charities and non-profits, I see the spreading of love between people working for a more significant cause. Eat, Pray, Love. I was recently humbled by something that reminded me that what we do in this event-centric magazine is so important to so many great charitable causes. It brought back home that we are so much more than just a business, we are a voice. In late September, I accepted an award on behalf of our publications that will forever remain on the desk. As a magazine, we are invited to numerous events each month. When Escambia County Sherriff Chip Simmons personally delivered my invitation, I thought it was a media thank you dinner. So, imagine my surprise that we were the only media invited to receive one of the 12 awards given to local businesses for supporting and promoting the Escambia County Sherriff Foundation, which works to engage the community! Our hearts are full, and we are so proud to have a platform to share all the great things going on in the communities we serve. Best In Destin moves into the voting stage on November 15. The ten businesses with the most nominations in each category are moving forward to the final stage. I hope you made it and if you did, VOTE every day and ask your friends to do the same. When you win, not only will you receive the title of Best in Destin, but you will also have secured a seat at the area’s hottest event - the annual VIP Destin Black Tie Ball. Best of Luck! Each month I close by asking for submissions from non-profits or charities holding events that you would like to see featured in VIP Destin Magazine. Our mission is to support as many non-profit causes as possible in each issue. Thank YOU for reading VIP Destin Magazine; 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. 10


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Come Play with Our Pets Family Owned and Operated

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415 Mary Esther Cut Off NW Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 (850) 796-2424 PetlandFortWaltonBeach

10/27/22 8:32 PM

VIP Destin at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

AJ‛s Reel Local Party & Kid‛s Wagon Parade photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


he 74th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo held its kickoff September 30 on the Destin Harbor. Hosted by AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, the event featured a 5:00 pm Captains & Mates Meeting followed by the 14th Annual Kid’s Wagon Parade. With music by the Luke Langford Band and fireworks at 9 pm, the kickoff for the Rodeo was definitely a family event. “We bring kids and their families down here to kick off the Destin Fishing Rodeo,” said Dan Collins, Entertainment Director for AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. He continued, “It’s another way to bring generations through this wonderful event which has been going on for years. It helps tie everything together from the Captains Party to the kids cruising up-and-down the harbor in their uniquely decorated floats.” Candy, parade music, a stilt walker, and huge awards ranging from ‘Most Creative’ to ‘Most Spirited’ made for a memorable event. Founded in the 1940s, the Rodeo was formed to bring people to Destin and to be the ultimate fishing tournament. What started with a few slots has grown to a tournament with 200 slots covering a variety of species and methods of fishing. On top of that, tournament Weighmaster Bruce Cheves, has been at the helm calling time for nearly 40 years. Sharing stories and his love of fishing, with a smile the humble Weighmaster said, “It’s a labor of love and I’m good at it; but not the best.”

Jennifer & Addison Lehrmann

Molly, Ava & Andrew Garrett

Maggie & Ashley Bowen

Sheila Miller & Jim Riekel

Ella Kathryn Campbell & Bruce Cheves

Dan Collins & Aubrey Reidinger November 2022 | 13

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VIP Destin at AJ’s EventReel Location Local Party & Kids Wagon Parade

Kevin McDaniel & Chuck Magill

Jamie & Travis Haynes

Kenneth & Christel Kelly

Larry & Kate Meyer

Austin & Phillip Gipson

Rich & Suzy Hunt

Steve & Conlin Arrowsmith

Kyle Howard & Alex Fogg 14

Kendra Estes & Lisa Goble

Scott & Lori Roberts

Brittany Tillery & Kieth Waters


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food and spirits

Lunch Monday-Friday Brunch Saturday-Sunday

Charla Ashley & Lance Oelke

11am to 2:30pm


Monday-Sunday 4pm to 9pm Adleigh, J. J., Harper & Asha Botelho

Happy Hour Everyday 3pm to 6pm

Late Night

Lori & Josiah Smith, Scott Miller

Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9pm to midnight

Call us to reserve a table, catering inquiries, or to book your next event!


Jones & Company 4463 Commons Drive West, Suite A | Destin, FL 32541 November 2022 | 15

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VIP Destin at The Market Shops

7th Annual

Bloody Mary Festival


photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

he line was long at The Market Shops in Miramar Beach on October 22 as hundreds of people waited to enter the 7th Annual Bloody Mary Festival. Powered by Step One Automotive, this annual event featured competitors ranging from Camille’s at Crystal Beach (Destin, FL) to the iconic Red Bar (Grayton Beach, FL). “We missed the Bloody Mary Festival last year; however, we love this event as it’s easy for us to show up and be a part of the community,” stated Kyle Petit, Co-owner Red Bar and Louis Louis. She continued, “We love Habitat for Humanity, it’s close to us . . . and we are happy to participate.” Apart from the bloody Mary competition there was food from area merchants including delectable treats from Ben & Jerry’s. Guests were also able to play cornhole and strike a pose in the photo booth. For Saturday SEC football fans there was a big screen to catch up on the game or the afternoon scores, courtesy of Insurance Zone. In addition to all the activities there was music by DJ Dad and the Luke Langford Band. Proceeds from the 7th Annual Bloody Mary Festival benefited Habitat for Humanity Walton County. As a local non-profit organization, they partner with people to build homes, community, and hope. Offering a hand up, qualified families not only participate in the building of the home but also attend credit and financial counseling classes. With over 50 homes to their credit, Habitat for Humanity Walton County is making a long-term difference for families and the communities alike.

Laura Hussey & Will Estell

Kristi Oliver, Christy Worley & Courtney Hicks

Lydia & Tim Collins

Fallon Ellender, Kevin & Sherry Harvey, Todd Royall

Lauren Stokes & Mindy Patrick

Kaaren Hinds, Joe Capers & Lynne Tanner

Fred & Debbie Brodersen

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VIP Destin at 7th Annual Bloody Mary Festival

Tabitha & Austin Sherrod

Frank Sandoval & Edwin Vega

Frank & Kerry Halbert, Patty & Ted Pelen

Paul & Leanna Rosenthal

Karen Wade Allen, Amy Grizzle & Natalie Obar

Marcia Pratt, Linsey Robinson & Harper Moody

Renee Kelley, Martha Horak, Kyle Petit & Sharon Armstrong 18

Megan & Nate Waldstein

Hunter Sobik & Alyssa Osterloh

Ginny Richerson, Chris Hill & Barb Landwehr


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VIP Destin at Beachworx

Russell Hale & Melanie Gray

Kellie Jo Killberg, Steve & Joan Carter

Ginny Richerson & David Butler

Mentoring Emerald Coast Mixer & Fundraiser photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


ver 10 years ago Mentoring Emerald Coast was founded to strengthen communities through mentoring, and on October 19 program mentors met in Destin for an afternoon mixer. Hosted by Beachworx, nearly 2 dozen people gathered to strengthen friendships, network, and raise funds for the program. “Mentoring is important and today we’re here to raise funds and remind ourselves of the program’s goals,” said program mentor Pastor David Butler. Offering a world-class program, Mentoring Emerald Coast pairs local leaders with budding leaders wishing to learn and grow. Using proven methods, the program pairs a mentor and mentee together for a 9-month period during which the team meets monthly. From the first meeting, during which goals are set, to the completion of the program, the mentor and mentee discuss everything from current challenges to growth strategies. Presenting real-life scenarios, mentees often share issues ranging from work relationships to business plans, all the while knowing that the mentor has their best interests at heart and will offer advice from someone who has experience. Mentoring Emerald Coast is sponsored by area businesses and community leaders and is always looking for mentors and mentees who want to make a difference in their communities. Hosted by the Walton Area Chamber, applications can be found on their website.

Gabby Kilgore & Abbie Bright 20

Jeremy Radney & Rick Davis

Cory Fosdyck & Bill Blanken

Nina McClanahan & Kenton Miller

Angie Resiak & Chris Stowers


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The Sword in the Sea story by Anna McGauley Stockton


hile the Gulf of Mexico offers a bounty of nutritious and tasty seafood, it also offers up some very strange creatures. Creepy creepers like the goblin shark, who, with a face only its mother could love, is appropriately named, and the Portuguese man-o-war, which is not a jellyfish but is actually a colony of organisms that seemingly only has one lot in life, to inflict pain and torture upon any human who comes in contact with it. Sharing space with these creatures is another doozy, the vampire squid of hell (actual name), who I’m sure has a great personality but hides in the depths of the Gulf, just in case. However, there’s one creature that’s packing a blade that would make Inigo Montoya proud, the majestic swordfish. Also known as broadbills, swordfish are actually a very impressive species. Starting their life as fertilized eggs in warm waters, they grow from 1/10 of an inch when hatched to three feet long in their first year. By the time swordfish achieve adulthood they can reach 10-15 feet long and 1,400 pounds. They tend to be loners and aren’t often found in schools with other swordfish, this allows them to migrate as they please. And migration is important to their survival, they are comfortable in both warm and cooler waters, thanks to a concurrent heat exchange mechanism near their brain that allows them to heat their brain and eyes, this helps them hunt effectively in colder temperatures. Hunting looks a little different for swordfish, due to their bills (or swords). Rather than using their bill to stab prey as expected, they use it to slash the prey to slow them down and turn them into delectable bite-sized pieces. Good luck outrunning these sleek, aerodynamic fish too, as they can get to a zippy 60 miles per hour when they’re feeling frisky. The speed of swordfish keeps them from being snacks themselves, save for an occasional orca or mako shark. As you can imagine, catching swordfish is no small feat. First, due to the swordfish’s habit of hanging around in deep

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water during the day, night fishing presents a better chance at success in landing one of these beasts. Once hooked, these fish can go from depths of 500 feet and shoot straight into the air, diving right back down to the depths. Not only are swordfish the acrobats of the sea with their graceful leaps when on the line, they’re also known to ram boats, people, and really anything else that gets in their way, so fisherman need to be especially careful when reeling these guys in. Thick gloves, long gaffs, and harpoons come in handy when catching a swordfish. The adventurous undertaking of catching these stabby fish all becomes worth it when it’s time to eat. Swordfish offer a sea of nutrients and although mercury is a concern for those who partake frequently, they offer huge nutritional benefits, especially for those occasional eaters. With its high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, swordfish can potentially positively affect blood pressure and cholesterol in humans. These two nutrients, combined with selenium, which is also found in this fish, make a potentially cancer fighting power trio. This is due to the anti-inflammatory qualities of all three of these nutrients, making swordfish a healthy choice. However, most people probably don’t think strictly about the health factors when enjoying swordfish, they’re relishing a delicacy fresh from the sea. With its slightly sweet flavor and firm texture, there are many options for preparing the fish. It can be grilled or cooked, much like a rare steak, boiled or even stewed, with the firm texture keeping the meat from flaking or breaking apart. While every creature contributes to the ecosystem of the Gulf, some are less majestic than others, I’m looking at you vampire squid of hell. The swordfish offers not only a unique, saber-like look but also awe-inspiring acrobatics, impressive hunting skills, and nutritious and delicious meat enjoyed by many. Not bad for a strange creature of the sea.

10/27/22 8:39 PM

Blackened Swordfish


6 ounce fillets swordfish fillets cup melted butter tablespoons reole seasoning


Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. ip fish into melted butter in bowl and place on a plate. Sprinkle reole seasoning on top of the fillets and pat in seasoning. lace fish in the hot skillet and cook until just starting to blacken, about minutes. Flip and cook until blackened on the other side, about minutes.

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10/27/22 8:40 PM

VIP Destin at Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village

Lydia & Tim Collins, Gale Colbourne & Brown Boswell

Steve Laushine, Becky McCoy, James Baughman, Cindy Potts & Diane Baughman


Taylor Dayne LIVE! D photos & story by Savannah Vasquez

estin locals and regional fans showed their love of American singersongwriter, Taylor Dayne on October 13 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) concert. The outdoor concert was a rescheduled event from the spring 2022 Concerts in the Village Series, but that did not deter the large crowd eagerly awaiting the star’s performance. “Mattie Kelly’s variety of entertainment that we bring to the Gulf Coast not only brings great entertainment value to the community, but it also supports our education and community development initiatives,” said Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation CEO, Demetrius Fuller. Groups of business professionals arrived early to set up gourmet picnics at the sponsor tables, while other concert goers brought lawn chairs and dined at one of the many local food trucks available onsite. While waiting for the concert to begin, patrons mingled and visited the silent auction benefitting Arts Reach, the K-12 outreach program run by the MKAF. After a glorious sunset, the stage lights came on and legendary American pop-icon Taylor Dayne took the stage. Living up to her three decades of award-winning music, Dayne brought the house down and was the perfect ending to the 2022 MKAF Concerts in the Village series.

Elizabeth Boswell & Mindy Moniz 24

Julie Nelson, Tom Kelly & Karla Roca

Tammie Bowyer, Karen Singleton, Branden & Asher Crosby

Suzy & Brad Spence, Cheri Williams, Tammy Turner & Clark Turnipseed


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10/27/22 9:34 PM

Ronda Butler, Debbie Butler & Tammy Domiano

Eric Navarre, Meloney Howell & Kim McIntosh

Michell Robeson, Jen Wendt & Kyla Jacobsen

Wes & Kim Battiste, Lavonne & Reeves Ellis November 2022 | 25

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10/27/22 8:40 PM

VIP Destin at Destin Library

Will Rogers & Lisa Firth


Mayor Gary Jarvis & Kay Rasmussen

photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

T Marilyn Kennedy & Pam McIlroy

Terésa Hebert & Patt Maney

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he Destin Library was the site for the dedication of Destin’s first Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker on October 11. “We are here to dedicate the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker to the veterans of the United States military: past, present, and future,” noted Lee Vanderpool, Blue Star Committee member. Lee continued, “We are dedicating this and presenting it to the City of Destin and the Destin Library in honor of those who have served.” Mr. Vanderpool also shared the history of the Blue Star. “During World War I families would place the Blue Star in their windows, thus indicating the family had someone serving in the armed forces; and since then, it has been carried on.” Under the canopy of the library’s live oaks, a somber dedication took place. Stories, tears, and hope were all shared during the ceremony; every once-in-awhile military aircraft flew over and attendees looked up. The memorial is easily viewed and can be seen as one walks up to the library.

Bob Hafner & David Hayes

Ed Smith & Janet Hayes

Mary Whisler, Tina Tuttle & Christy Linke


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10/27/22 8:40 PM


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Drew Carter AuD Audiologist

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CATEGORIES COCKTAILS & CUISINE Appetizer Asian Bartender Beer Selection Bloody Mary Breakfast Brunch Buffalo Wings Burger

Outdoor Bar

Place to Spoil Him


Outdoor Dining

Seafood Market

Pain Management


Shoe Store



Shopping/Lifestyle Center

Place for a Massage

Place for Cocktails

Specialty Shop/Specialty Retailer

Plastic Surgery

Seafood Restaurant

Wine Shop/Liquor Store


Special Occasion Restaurant

Women’s Accessories

Senior Living Community


Women’s Clothing

Urgent Care

Sushi Wine List

Casual Dining



Children’s Clothing



Crab Cakes

Fine Jewelry



Fine Dining

Gift Shop

Happy Hour

Home Décor/ Accessories

Italian Restaurant

Locally Owned Retailer

Locally Owned Restaurant

Men’s Clothing


Outdoor Furniture

Mexican/Latin American Restaurant

Place to Spoil Her

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HEALTH & WELLNESS Aesthetician Alternative/Natural Medicine Anti Aging Service Chiropractic Clinic Cosmetic Dentist Dental Practice Dermatology Practice Doctor Ear, Nose, Throat Medical Group Medical Practice Medical Spa

Vein/Vascular Care Vision Care Weight Loss Women’s Wellness Provider

SERVICES Accounting Firm Alarm/Security Company Architect Auto Body Repair Automobile Dealership - New Automobile Dealership - Pre Owned Automobile Repair/Service Bank/Financial Institution

10/27/22 8:42 PM


Landscaping/Lawn Service

Real Estate Professional - Female

Place for a Weekend Getaway

Boat Sales & Service

Law Firm

Real Estate Professional - Male

Place to Go Dancing

Charity/Non Profit

Limo/Transportation Service

Real Estate Team

Place to People Watch

Cleaning Service

Luxury Automobile Sales

Sign Company

Place to Take the Kids

Customer Service

Mortgage Lender

Specialty Cleaning Service

Place to Watch a Sunset

Event Venue

New Business

Specialty Contractor


Financial Advisor

Payroll Firm/Human Resources

Title Company

Water Sports Experience


Pest Control/Wildlife Management

Vacation Rental


Pet Care & Accessories




Place for Rehearsal Dinner

General Contractor Golf Cart/ATV

Place for Eyelashes, Nails, or Makeup

Hair Salon

Plumbing Service

Heating & Air Service

Pool Building/Service


Property Management

Insurance Firm

Public Relations Firm

Interior Design Firm

Real Estate - Commercial

Interior Designer/Decorator

Real Estate - Residential

IT Firm/Web Design

Real Estate Company

Charter Fishing Experience Golf Course Hotel

Place for Stationery/Invites Place to Buy Engagement Ring Place to Buy Wedding Dress Place to Get a Tuxedo

Local Adventure Experience Local Annual Event

Place to Pop The Question

Party Boat Experience Place for “Girl’s Night Out” Place for a Date

Reception Venue Wedding Planner Wedding Venue




for voting! Remember to vote daily on the official Best IN Destin voting ballot! VIPDESTINMAGAZINE.COM

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VIP Destin at Legendary Yacht Club

Impact 100 of Northwest Florida

2022 Grant Finalist Reveal


photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

n 2012, 100 women came together to donate $1,000 each to collectively create a $100,000 “high-IMPACT grant” to benefit nonprofits in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Since then, nearly $4 million has been donated. On October 4, members, supporters, and grant applicants gathered at Legendary Yacht Club to experience the grant finalist reveal for 10 area nonprofits. “Our Board of Directors and Grant Review Committee are absolutely excited and thrilled tonight to reveal our finalists and we can’t wait to reveal the winners the first week of November,” said Mary Tinsley, Chair of the Grant Review Committee. Through a rigorous process whereby local nonprofits start with an April workshop, a formal application and site visits in August, ten 501(c)(3) organizations made the October cut from 20 applications from 5 key areas: Arts & Culture; Education; Environment, Recreation and Preservation; Family; and Health & Wellness. With a mission to financially support nonprofit organizations in Okaloosa and Walton Counties by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging geographic areas of the region, and by leveraging the talents of diverse women to be a positive change for good in the local communities, Impact 100 of Northwest Florida has donated to organizations ranging from A Bed 4 Me Foundation to Sharing and Caring of Okaloosa County. Additionally, nonprofits can post wish lists on Impact 100’s website.

Caitie Cerise & Carrie Brewer

Diane Freeman, LeAnn Caravello & Carol Merkle

Christine Zollinger, Cindy Zimmermann & Wendy Faust

Valerie Boger & Nellie Bogar

Skip Crank & Brenda Lange

Melanie Adams & Teresa Allen

Darrel Bost, Kelley Fuller & Sheila Hale November 2022 | 33

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10/27/22 8:43 PM

VIP Destin at Impact100 2022 Grant Finalist Reveal

Marybeth Vaughan & Nancy Francis


Kathy Edge & Mike Arena

Shannon Brannon & Jan Campbell

Kathy Mays, Jan Malsky, Sherry Sparks & Kay Crawford

Faith Anderson & Joni Wallace

Leslie Mickles & Desiree Hartwig

Ann & Rudy Hill

Lana Smith & Rebecca Brice-Nash

Sue Surgala & Nancy Sack

Michael Anderson, Brian & Sonya Crisman, Matt Nelms


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10/27/22 8:43 PM


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10/27/22 8:44 PM

VIP Destin at Seascape Towne Centre


Eggs on the Beach photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


he Eighth Annual Bay Breeze Patio Eggs on the Beach was held October 15 at the Seascape Towne Centre. What started out as a tiny competition to raise money for Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, has grown to include several dozen competitors and a second nonprofit. “In the second year we added Food For Thought, and since then this event has just grown and grown,” said Susan Kiley, co-owner of Bay Breeze Patio. Susan continued, “This year we have 20 teams and competitors have the opportunity to win prizes, with the nonprofit winners vying for a cash donation to their organization.” Presented by Bay Breeze Patio, organizers were expecting hundreds of visitors, and with the beautiful weather, the gate was packed with hungry taste testers and expectations were met. Recipes ranged from Jamaican jerk pork sliders (Renasant Bank) and watermelon habanero pork loin with watermelon jalapeno sauce (Bad Day to be a Naturday) to smoked cobia served over Cajuninspired smoked corn and andouille sausage maque choux (Saltwater Restaurants, Inc.). In addition to unlimited samples and music there was a raffle with hundreds of dollars of prizes. This year’s Judge’s Choice winners were Sea Market,1st Place, InDyne 2nd Place, and Brock Pest Control in 3rd place. Nonprofit winners were Healing Paws for Warriors: Blue Mountain Bakery, The Eggstrahs: South Walton Academy, and coming in at 3rd, Food For Thought. Non-profit winners were awarded cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively.

Aliya Yellen & Tyler Polderman

Gia Yaffe, Amber McTier & Josh Turner

Susan Kiley & Wayne Paul

Caleb & Gina Brown

Brian & Cheryl Goode, Fred Brodersen November 2022 | 39

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VIP Destin at 8th Event Annual Location Eggs on the Beach

Denise & Ed Kindust

Todd Wilson & Greg Dedicke

Jessica Knowlton, Misty Rae Ruthrauff & Penny Wahab

Lisa Pierce, Wanda Woodham & Anthony Serna

Robby Ruel, Brandon Bassett & Phil Schwartz 40

Donna Cates & Wanda Jackson

Rita Cummins, Polita Ramos & Zakna Judd

Calley Middlebrooks, Giovanni & Jennifer Filippone

Kevin Tate & Clayton Coker

Sarah Moss, Donald & Lisa King


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Voted BEST Dessert!

Monday - Saturday 11 am - 10 pm Sunday 11 am - 9 pm

November 2022 | 41

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10/27/22 8:46 PM

Step One Motorsports

Media Day


photo & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

esidents of the Emerald Coast are familiar with the name Step One Automotive; however, some might not know that Step One Automotive Group also has a motorsports division. On October 21, Step One Motorsports hosted a media day at The Place on Beal in Fort Walton Beach. Featuring F3 and European LeMans Series athlete Juan Manuel “JM” Correa, VIP Destin Magazine sat down with JM to learn more about him and the racing world.

An interview with

Juan Manuel “JM” Correa What got you into racing? My family. When I was young, my dad used to race motorcycles and he got me my first motocross when I was 3 years old, and I started racing then. We would watch Formula 1 together, so I was aware of the sport and had a lot of passion for it. When I was 7, my dad took me to a go-kart track and I never went back to the motorcycle. What excites you about your partnership with Step One Motorsports? Being a racing driver is not only about driving a car on a track, there’s also a business aspect. We’ve been together for many years, facing ups and downs. I had an accident in 2019, putting me in a wheelchair for a year and a half. I almost lost my legs and Step One was with me through that. Since we do a lot of work with Wounded Warriors and similar organizations that hit home profoundly. Step One Motorsports’ mission includes excellence in execution, teamwork, and leadership. Which is most important to you and why? All of them are important and are the basis of being a successful race car driver. When you are in racing you learn about these areas and then see that it is important to transfer them into business. We do motivational talks with the teams, and I see a lot of similarities between the racing and business teams as there is a lot of leadership and teamwork that goes into being successful. In life and in business mentorship is important. Do you have a mentor and what have you learned from them? My father - he has been with me through everything. I have also had other people - managers and team owners. I have been lucky to meet the people I have met through racing. I think they have helped me grow not only as a person, but also as a driver. As a racer, what has been your most fulfilling moment? There are two. One of the best moments was my first Formula 1 test. I had dreamt of being a Formula 1 driver so it was very symbolic, and my family was there. Also, when I returned to race on the same track in Spa, Belgium, where my 2019 accident occurred. It was very emotional and very special. What would you say to someone wanting to get into racing? Make sure you are aware of the sacrifices that are required. Many see the F1 drivers, and they see an amazing and glamorous lifestyle. But many individuals do not have the sacrifice to give it a shot. Even if you don’t make it as a professional race car driver, the process to get there teaches you a lot. Being a team and striving for excellence are things you can apply to your daily life. It’s a great sport.

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10/27/22 8:46 PM


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VIP Destin at Emerald Bay Golf Club


Annual Golf Tournament photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

Joseph Siberski & Brian Keister


uilding a world-class community one business at a time, the Destin Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Golf Tournament at Emerald Bay Golf Club on September 29. Title sponsored by Renasant Bank, the day’s events started with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the practice green and a cookout provided by Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican. The sold out 4-person scramble teed off with a shotgun start at noon and all the carts raced off to try to win one of the amazing prizes ranging from $15,000 for a holein-one to closest-to-the pin and longest drive prizes. Sponsors and teams throughout the community were out in force to support the Chamber. “The Destin Chamber is a valuable part of the community, and our bank is always happy to sponsor the annual golf tournament to help the Chamber,” said Eric Navarre, Renasant Bank President. Supporting the area by working to make Destin the best community in which to live, work, and play, the Destin Chamber of Commerce advocates for businesses while at the same time helping individuals learn about the area by offering information on their website ranging from economic data to employment opportunities.

Marketa Rakova, Jeff Kemp & Michele Autter

Ken Powell & Louis Ebersole

Brooklyn Threlkeld & Sean Sanchez

Brett Stewart & Scott Bruce

Shane Moody, Mike Johnson, Jerry Sullivan & Doug Rainer November 2022 | 45

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VIP Destin at Cerulean Park

Laura Beth Scott & Jolie Martin

John & Ashley Jones

Lauren Cleary & Jennifer Gross

6th Annual

Harvest Wine & Food Festival


photos & story by Tyler Noble

he breathtaking beach community of Watercolor was once again the location of the Harvest Wine & Food Festival’s Grand Tasting on October 14. Hundreds of wine lovers and culinary aficionados alike gathered at Cerulean Park for the sold-out festival in its sixth year. This regionally renowned event was welcomed with gorgeous fall weather. Guests dressed in chic attire enjoyed a sunny but cool walk through the park as they tasted a variety of wine, beer, and liquor from around the globe. Many delicious food options were also available from worldfamous chefs. Guests savored the tastes of barbeque, seafood, and more as they strolled through the festival. The experience was an all-weekend event, starting Thursday and Friday with several different celebrity chef and winemaker dinners in different locations throughout 30A. Saturday was the main event, the festival known as the Grand Tasting. The occasion concluded Sunday afternoon with the Agave Road Trip Brunch, a lively cocktail brunch at a private 30A home managed by luxury vacation rental company 360 Blue. What makes this event all the more amazing is the purpose behind it. Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is the organization behind this premier experience. Since its inception in 2005, the Foundation has been devoted to uniting wine lovers in events that raise funds for children in need. They have done just that by earning accolades from Wine Spectator magazine for 10 consecutive years, and by donating more than $25 million to Northwest Florida charities through hosting world class wine and culinary events. These funds have impacted the lives of over 100,000 children, including those affl icted by health issues and abuse.

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Leisha Kelley & Lorrie Hicks

Brian & Renee Bouma

Dana McIntosh, Penny Jackson & Amanda Shaekel


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Marisol Gullo, Stephanie Brannon & Christina Abbott

Paul Murphy, John Engle & Daniel Sanchez

Linda Whalen, Debra McKenzie & Mindy Holscher

Genevieve Torrey, Katie Stegemann, Amanda Edwards & Sarah Timmons November 2022 | 49

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

Thank you for voting our restaurants “Best In Destin” over the years. It’s an honor to serve you and we appreciate your votes and support again in 2023!

Fresh from the Gulf

Local Ingredients Southern Hospitality

Seafood & Sushi for the whole family

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10/27/22 8:51 PM

Signature Holiday Cocktails story by Anna McGauley Stockton


he holidays are approaching with the speed of the Polar Express so it’s time to start thinking about all things holidays. Along with the gifts, the meals, the busy stores, and the stress and chaos that goes along with the festive times, we have ... holiday parties. Holiday party hosting is as dividing as politics itself, while some shudder at the thought of hosting such an event, others become giddy with excitement and happy for an excuse to buy those fancy reindeer olive picks they’ve been eyeing. While hosting a holiday party can be exhausting and not for the faint of heart, I’m firmly in the olive pick camp, I can’t get enough of it, no matter the holiday. Of course, there are many details that go into planning your holiday party. What will the theme be? What food will you serve? How do you keep the dog

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from eating everyone’s food? (Well, maybe that’s just a problem at my house.) One part of your party that shouldn’t require a lot of work is the cocktails. Having the basics is important, such as wine, beer, and options for nondrinkers, but having a signature drink for your party brings the atmosphere and sophistication up a notch and streamlines drink options for guests. A signature drink is a unique cocktail created especially for an event, designed to reflect the nature and spirit of, not only the occasion, but also the attendees. These drinks give those indecisive or hard to please guests a solid cocktail option, as well as showing them that their host put thought, care, and effort into the evening. The best part is that signature drinks can be absolutely anything you want them to be, and while you may not be a mixologist, taking an

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Festive Fall Sangria Ingredients: 1 apple 1 pear 1/2 orange 2 tablespoons sugar ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 750ml bottle dry red wine, such as Rioja 1 750ml bottle sparkling cider or apple cider Garnishes: Cinnamon stick, rosemary sprig, remaining orange slices

Directions: Cut the pear, apple, and orange into thin slices. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Add the fruit to a pitcher and pour in a bottle of red wine. Allow to stand 1 hour for the flavors to combine. When ready to serve, fill each glass half-full with sparkling apple cider or regular apple cider and top off with the red wine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, rosemary sprig, and remaining oranges.

Seaside Holiday Punch Ingredients: already great recipe and renaming it to fit the vibe you want for your party is always a great option. The drink chosen to be the signature cocktail for your party is just the start. Once you’re decided on a cocktail and given it a snazzy name, it’s on to the presentation. Seasonal colors, garnishes, and festive trim bring your drink together to ring in the holiday cheer and make your seasons bright. And don’t forget the cups or glasses that complement your choice of drink, as well as a cute sign placed next to the cocktail, letting the guests know the name and ingredients. This will not only round out the presentation but may also help to avoid a holiday party mishap, like with that one relative who becomes a little less like Santa and more like the Grinch when rum is involved.

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64 ounces cranberry 100% juice blend, chilled 32 ounces pineapple juice, chilled 32 ounces ginger ale, chilled 1 750 ml bottle rum 1 orange 1 lemon Garnishes: 5-star anise, fresh or frozen cranberries, rosemary sprigs

Directions: Combine the cranberry juice blend and pineapple juice and chill. Before serving, add the ginger ale and rum to a punch bowl and combine with the chilled juice. Garnish with orange and lemon slices, cranberries, star anise and rosemary sprigs.

10/27/22 8:53 PM

Fabulous Styles for your Holiday Season at Destin Commons

Today’s Boutique

We have moved to

Destin Commons near Belk & Level 10 Salon

Look for our signature pink awnings! We can’t wait to show you our new store!

New address:

4106 Legendary Drive, Destin (850) 837-5565


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Dining Dynamos

Polished Chef

Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House, Sunset Bay Cafe Jay’s passion for hospitality and food began at a family pizzeria shop in Tampa, FL, at the tender age of 12. A few years later, you will now find Jay Ammons serving as the Executive Chef at Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House.

Chef Nathan Davis learned from an early age that his grandmother’s kitchen and garden were at the center of his love of food. He saw firsthand the importance of attending to details, maximizing every ingredient, and using the freshest available. The recipes and skills passed down in his family instilled in Nathan the understanding that creating a beautiful meal is more meaningful when shared with family and friends. So, it was no surprise that he chose a culinary career path leading to the sous chef position for the Thompson Hotel in Nashville. When he later moved to Florida, Nathan secured a position with famed chef, Emeril Lagasse, and subsequently became Chef de Cuisine for the Stinky’s Restaurant Group, and the award-winning Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar. Having had such varied career accomplishments, and with his love of food and family in mind, Chef Nathan designed The Polished Chef in 2020. As a private chef, he uses his knowledge of food, wine, and presentation to create one-of-a-kind dinners for his clients in their homes. His company has been quite successful, with sales doubling in the last year. The Polished Chef now has seven full-time employees, each carefully preparing and presenting unique menus for multicourse meals to discerning home diners. 850.693.9751 54

Diners enjoy the latest fresh from the Gulf entrée or locally sourced ingredients and fresh produce. “We take pride in all that we do, from using the freshest seafood to making our premium custom cocktails,” said Executive Chef Jay Ammons “We do it all from scratch here and take absolutely no shortcuts.” The food is top notch, the drinks are top-shelf, and the setting is inviting. “We create a unique experience for our guests here, with our open kitchen where they can watch oysters being shucked and prepared and our attention to detail, which dictates that we do everything with excellence,” said Ammons, a largely self-taught chef who has trained under some of the best in the Gulf South. Guests who visit Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House experience Jay’s charm firsthand. “This is a place created for families, with Southern hospitality and that feeling of being welcome served up right along with the food,” said Ammons.

Jay Ammons, Director Of Operations


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Bay side




2022 • 2021 • 2020

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VIP Destin at Shoreline Church

Jennifer Becker & Jim Wood

Bobby Wagner & Denise Song

Bobbie Celano & Bill Lindsey

Business Before Hours




photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

astor David Butler opened the monthly Business Before Hours on October 14 with an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. Hosted by Shoreline Church in Destin, Business Before Hours brings community and area leaders together to enjoy fellowship, network and learn. Sponsored by Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, the October gathering was noteworthy as Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis shared his thoughts on being Destin’s Mayor and what projects he plans on tackling in the near future. Opening with a joke and a story, Mayor Jarvis talked about how he was invited by Shane Moody, Chamber President and CEO, to give his “farewell speech.” Detailing how his involvement in the community has spanned decades, and that he wasn’t a politician, he entered politics because he saw issues that he wanted to take a leadership role in. Saying, “Every day as a boat captain you overcome some challenges; nothing is ever the same.” Using this experience Mayor Jarvis developed a plan to increase beach access to ensure that the Destin brand endured. He continued, “Destin basically hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years, and even though I won’t be the Mayor, I’ll be on the side working on visionary projects to make this a better place to live, work, and visit.” After the Mayor’s speech, Shane Moody came up to present door prizes. He thanked the outgoing Mayor and talked about future projects to maintain Destin’s heritage and structured growth. After the presentation of door prizes, which ranged from wine to a cheese board basket, it was time to head off to work.

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Sylvia Vazquez & Toby Williams

Gary & Pam Jarvis

Shane Moody & Jason Hall

Stephanie Larabee & Drew Powell


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Brian Liesveld & Tera Keister

Larry Cowsert, Marlee Tucker & Joshua Cowsert

Josh Axsom & Shane Bininger

Fred Fenn, Kayla O’Leary, Jessica Holzapple & Bill Head November 2022 | 59

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The Polished Chef promises an unrushed, elegant dining experience at your home. Every detail has been carefully considered and presented to produce the best culinary event possible. The recipe for this one-of-a-kind dining experience is easy to follow. Take one superb and polished chef, Nathan Davis, add unique multi-course menus, meals designed with fresh, locally sourced, seasonal food, and perfect wine pairings. Chef Nathan works with local growers like the Freeport Farmers Market to secure the freshest possible ingredients, as well as working with regional winemakers to create unforgettable wine dinners. Each offering and each event is driven by the foods that are currently in season and no two dinners are quite the same. Best of all, it's completely made from scratch on-site the day of the event. The Polished Chef was launched in 2020 and rapidly built a reputation for excellence and attention to detail. Chef Davis's clients work with him to develop menus, decide on table settings and decorations, and collaborate on meals for even those on the most stringent dietary restrictions. Depending on the need, Chef offers choices for vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. Exceptionally talented, professional, and polished, Chef Nathan makes certain dinner at home never tasted so good.

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VIP Destin at Maxine Orange Galleries

Austin White & Aaron Barnes

Maxine Orange, Rosalyn Wik, Jennifer Jones & Chondalis Muniz

Purses with a Purpose photos & story by Savannah Vasquez


n Fort Walton Beach, a group of women shopped and sipped champagne on October 22. The event was Purses with a Purpose, held at the newest art gallery in town, Maxine Orange Art & Design. “We have been doing Purses with a Purpose since 2010,” said Shelter House Executive Director Rosalyn Wik. “This year, we chose to bring it back in a pop-up boutique style and have it in Fort Walton Beach to bring it home a little bit.” Wik explained that Purses with a Purpose has come to be known as the signature fundraiser for Shelter House, a local non-profit serving victims of domestic violence in Okaloosa and Walton County. Throughout the year, purses are collected and donated and then during the three-day Purses with a Purpose event, the items are auctioned off or sold with the proceeds going to support the community outreach and intervention programs run by Shelter House. “We are excited to be here and partner with Maxine and bring this event to the Fort Walton Beach community,” Wik said.

Mary Nix & Kaye Towner

Ashley Sukalski & Alethea Wankowski

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Kitty Jones, Aimee Shaffer & Kay Windham


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sunset cruises CRAB ISLAND cruises retirement parties birthday parties harbor lights cruises corporate retreats bachelor/bachelorette parties

Come to Auston’s to watch all of your football games! $3 pints ALL DAY Saturday and Sunday Happy Hour - Mon-Fri 11:00am-6:00pm 2-4-1 Drafts, Well Liquor, and House Wine Live Music Wednesdays and Fridays 125 Poinciana Boulevard, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 850-842-3200 | Sun-Thur 11 am to 9 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am to 10 pm

Join us on December 11 from 6pm-8pm for a Holiday Harbor cruise on our decked-out tiki boats Christmas Boat Parade First place winners for the past three years!

Thanks for voting us 2022 Best Place to Watch a Sunset! 2021 BEst Water Sports Experience!

(850) 200-0573

288 Harbor Blvd. • November 2022 | 63

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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

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VIP Destin at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort

Walton Area Chamber

Power of Business Luncheon photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.


ponsored by Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, October 12 saw business and community leaders convene at the Baytowne Conference Center on the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach for the Walton Area Chamber Power of Business Luncheon. The luncheon opened with the announcing of upcoming events such as the Veterans Breakfast at Chelco, followed by new member welcomes, and an overview of the list of growing Diamond Sponsor members. President and CEO, Megan Harrison, brought everyone up to date regarding an important referendum supported by the Chamber. She noted, “Everyone is familiar with heavy traffic and bottlenecks and that a proposed one cent sales tax would be used to improve and correct these issues.” She stated that the Walton Referendum, “Is a great opportunity to improve the infrastructure for visitors and locals alike.” The main presentation was given by Jane Kerrigan and Nathan Cordle, attorneys with Hand Arendall Harrison Sale. Offering a Halloween-like title, Tales from the Crypt: Estate Planning Nightmares and How to Avoid Them, Jane and Nathan opened the presentation by asking the question: “What do Aretha Franklin, Prince, Princess Diana, Steve McNair, and Picasso have in common?” Answer: They died without a will, and all had substantial assets. Intertwining stories with facts such as the keys to a solid estate plan, the attorneys also covered the basics which included: wills, advanced directives, power of attorney, trusts, and beneficiary designations. Chamber events not only offer networking opportunities, they also educate, inform and support the community. Check the Walton Area Chamber’s calendar for upcoming meetings and events.


Megan Harrison & Neko Stubblefield

Chris Stowers & Nathan Cordle

Denny Winrick & Jane Kerrigan

Bryan Gilbert & Kim Wetzel

Chris Cordt, Allison Smith, Rachel Velasco & James Sater


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Dinner of Dreams

VIP Destin at Niceville Senior Center

photos & story by Savannah Vasquez


t was the perfect night for dining al fresco, and the perfect setting as well, as people gathered at the Niceville Senior Center’s courtyard on October 2, for the Dinner of Dreams, benefiting A Bed 4 Me. A jazz band played mellow tunes, setting the tone for the evening as patrons perused the silent auction tables and took photos with display beds showcasing what this charity is all about; providing beds to underprivileged families in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. “This is our signature event, and this is the sixth year that we have held it,” said A Bed 4 Me Executive Director Diane Freeman. “At A Bed 4 Me, we provide a full bed kit; twin bedframe, mattress, sheet set, comforter and pillow, to low-income families who are just having a tough time providing that for their kids.” Freeman went on to say that A Bed for Me provides between 300-400 beds per year and is approaching 2,000 beds total since the charity began in 2016. Once everyone arrived, a video was played displaying A Bed 4 Me’s work over the past year. Highlights included children picking out their comforters based on favorite characters and colors and families taking part in the bed delivery day event the charity has dubbed the “bed celebration.”


Randy & Maria White

Yasmin & Bryan House, Mark Watson

Diane Freeman & Claire Jones

Dave Thames, Mary Schroeder, Juli Schroeder & Tamara Schroeder

Catherine & Michael Marcantonio

Judy & Eric Smith

Tiffany & Justin Turner


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GI V E | C A R E | S H A R E

photos provided by Feeding the Gulf Coast


eeding the Gulf Coast is the area’s local Feeding America-affi liated food bank. Feeding the Gulf Coast serves 24 counties throughout south Mississippi, south Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle by providing emergency food assistance programs and other support to nonprofit and faith-based organizations and special programs. Last year, the food bank distributed more than 27.5 million meals to those in need along the central Gulf Coast.

From the viewpoint of

Michael Ledger, President and CEO How did Feeding the Gulf Coast come about? On September 17, 1980, Feeding the Gulf Coast, then known as Bay Area Food Bank, received the green light to open its doors. The food bank’s mission was to invest in those struggling to put food on the table daily in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Within just a few years of operation, the food bank’s service to Gulf Coast communities grew to include the Florida Panhandle. Operating from its facility in Milton since 2009, the food bank underwent an expansion project last year to better serve those facing hunger in the Panhandle. What impact does Feeding the Gulf Coast have on the community? On a daily basis, hunger is hidden among us. This need may reside with our child’s classmate, the clerk in the grocery store, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Food shouldn’t be an impossible choice. For many, a daily meal is just a choice of what to eat for dinner. But for people facing hunger, a daily meal poses a very different type of choice. It’s often an impossible choice between food and other critical needs such as utilities, housing, or medicine. Throughout our service area, 1 in 6 individuals is food insecure, including 1 in 4 children. That represents more than 130,000 people who may not know where their next meal will come from. The food bank works with more than 400 partner agencies and 150 child nutrition partners to serve those in need. On average, around 100,000 individuals visit a pantry each month. What are some future goals? The food bank recognizes that chronic poor health and hunger can create a consequential pattern leaving individuals in a system of nutrition insecurity. Additionally, our rural service area contains pockets of low-food access where individuals face the challenges of finding healthy food at affordable prices. We are working to develop new programs that increase access to nutritious and fresh foods such as dairy and produce. We are in the process of outfitting our first mobile marketplace vehicle. This program will bring fresh foods to food deserts within our service area, along with nutrition education opportunities to help encourage better nutrition and cooking habits. We also work to establish more food-as-medicine partnerships through prescription food box initiatives and address senior hunger. What are some challenges your organization faces? The need remains high. The food bank has challenges finding the proper resources, whether food supply sources or enough partners to adequately meet our community’s needs. We are thankful for our current partners but always need more feet on the ground. What events does your organization host? Are any open to the public? We have two upcoming events next spring open to the public to get involved with. In partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers, our biggest one-day food drive, Stamp Out Hunger, is set to take place on May 13, 2023. We are also the benefitting charity of The MAX Volleyball Tournament on May 21, 2023. We are in the process of securing sponsors and teams for anyone who wants to participate. November 2022 | 71

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What is your role and how did you get involved with Feeding the Gulf Coast? I am the President and CEO. I took on this role in the summer of 2020 during a very busy time as we were responding to impacts of the pandemic. I previously served as the Florida Branch Manager following the organization’s response to Hurricane Michael. I was at a point in life where I had accumulated significant for profit business experience, and I felt I could translate that knowledge into making a difference in the community. When I learned of the opportunity with this organization, I felt it was a way to contribute positively to the community and give back through leadership of the organization. What’s your favorite thing about being involved with the organization? I enjoy the opportunity to develop strategies and find new ways to improve our efforts to create impact every day. Our goal is not only to provide a meal for someone struggling today but to establish initiatives that ultimately help end hunger. So not only do I get to make a difference every day, but I do so alongside a great team of passionate individuals and community partners.

What would you like our readers to know about Feeding the Gulf Coast? For those who need food assistance, individuals can visit our website, at, and use the Find A Pantry feature. That tab allows people to put in their address and a list of agencies and operational hours near them will populate. People can also call our office at (888) 704-FOOD for additional assistance. How can someone get involved and/or support your nonprofit? Any one person can make a difference. Whether through one dollar, one donated item or one hour of time. We have opportunities available for all those interested in standing alongside us in our mission to provide hunger relief for the community and to make a difference. Volunteer opportunities include packing backpacks of food for children to have during weekends and breaks from school, packing senior boxes of supplemental food for seniors living on fixed income, sorting food or even volunteering at mobile pantry distributions. For those interested in getting involved, they can visit our website at for more information.

GI V E | C A R E | S H A R E

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VIP Destin at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort

Julie & Mike Hart

Sally & Bob Thiede

Janice & Jim Elkins

An Evening with

Patti LaBelle


photos & story by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

he backdrop was the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. The purpose was to raise money to benefit Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s education and community engagement initiatives. The performer was the award-winning entertainer and author: Patti LaBelle. And on October 11, Sinfonia Gulf Coast presented its Annual Gala Event. “Sinfonia’s Gala Event always provides an incredible evening, and we are honored to present the Godmother of Soul, Ms. Patti LaBelle,” says Sinfonia Music and Artistic Director Demetrius Fuller. Having written 6 books, performed on television, and been behind several chart-topping songs, 2022’s Gala was set to be one for the books. When the reception doors opened at 6 pm., guests were surrounded by a reception hall fi lled with the most exquisite silent auction items one could dream of. Ranging from original art to wine, there were also tickets and passes to area cultural events on the various auction tables. At 7:00 pm. the banquet hall opened, and attendees were greeted with musicians and lighted string instruments. Prepared by Chef Joseph Weems, the Gala’s menu consisted of a Florida Citrus Salad, Petite Filet Mignon, and for dessert: New York Style Cheesecake and Georgia Peach Upside Down Cake. Inspiring the community through imaginative and innovative musical programming, Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s goal is to enrich and expand the traditional orchestral experience through unique artistic disciplines and collaborations, enhancing Northwest Florida’s cultural vitality.

Clint Viehman & Jennifer Miller

Ken & Darla Harrison

Mindy & Dion Moniz

Matt Rogers, Glenda Palmore, Candis Wilson, Shawn & Richard Tomassello, Demetrius Fuller November 2022 | 75

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VIP Destin at An Evening with Patti LaBelle

Susan Kiley & Wayne Paul

Hillaree Durso & Nicole Malley

Pat & Leroy Graham

Todd Reeves & Jorge Saiz

Mary Kalkbrenner & Nancy Fox

Verla Price & Martina Mason

Alesia Sailors & Mary Scoggins

Royce & Leslee Mitchell, Jennifer & William Mitchell 76

Jaime & Roger Alexander


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Demetrius Fuller, Lea & Joe Capers


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Greg Valloch

What is your hometown and how did you end up on the Emerald Coast? I was born in Rutland, Vermont, and attended 1st-12th grades in a little town called Proctor. It is famous for marble and has the World’s largest marble exhibit. I went to Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and was commissioned as an Armor Officer. After leaving the service I received a job offer from a company on Eglin Air Force Base and bought a house in Destin in 1995. We still live in that same house. What is your profession and what led you to choose it? Interesting question. I worked as a contractor on Eglin AFB for over 20 years while staying in the Army Reserves. I retired out of the Army Reserves in 2013. I always wanted to own my own business and tried to get a Ben & Jerry’s Franchise in 1999. It did not work out, but in 2014 I tried again. And this time I was approved for a franchise. The store opened in May of 2016 in the Market Shops in Miramar Beach. What are some of your favorite things about Destin? I love driving over the Destin Bridge, looking at the Emerald Waters and thinking I am blessed to look at something so beautiful. The schools are great, the selection of restaurants is awesome, and you make lifelong friends with people who you may have worked with, your children played sports with, or neighbors who you have known for what seems like forever. Three words that best describe you. Loyal, Determined, Caring. Favorite places for going out? Love going to McGuire’s, for the view upstairs and the great food. What is one thing that you do not go a day without? Petting my two silly golden retrievers! Finish this statement. I AM Destin because… My children went to school here, I coached recreational soccer here, and I have willingly given back to the community that has been very good to me and my family. I have met some amazing people here that are now lifelong friends. Just saying “I live in Destin” makes me smile!! photo by Harley S. Sampson, Jr.

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