Jim Shirley

The Bay

Chef Jim Shirley co-owns restaurants in Pensacola, Florida (The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House) as well as Great Southern Café and Meltdown on 30 A at Seaside, Florida, in South Walton. At the southern foot of the Highway 331 bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay is his most recent South Walton sensation: The Bay.

But he is more than a great restaurateur. He’s a great chef. That’s why Governor Rick Scott chose him to represent Florida in the 2015 Great American Seafood Cook-Off. “He is incredibly dedicated to his craft,” said Scott.

After all, he is one of the five distinguished Pensacola Celebrity Chefs who have been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. Jim has been invited four times.

“As a native Floridian,” said Shirley, “it is truly an honor to represent our great state by sharing a signature dish that features Florida seafood. I have built my career around some of the Sunshine State’s most unique flavors and am proud to cook with fresh regional ingredients each day. I look forward to the competition and can’t wait to showcase what Florida has to offer.”

He is author of the cookbook, “Good Grits! Southern Boy Cooks,” a compilation of the best recipes along with entertaining stories from his Good Grits! column once featured in the Pensacola News Journal.

Chef Jim, with a collection of great young chefs at his side, has cooked up something entirely new with The Bay restaurant. His menu captures classic Southern coastal flavors, but he brings in international influences as only he can — with his uncanny, intuitive ability to meld flavors creatively. As the son of a Navy pilot who was stationed all around the world, Jim learned to enjoy a variety of foods from many cultures. But he always goes back to his roots — his grandmothers’ traditional Southern cooking.

Chef Jim uses Southern accents with great skill and spirit, traveling far afield to graze and glean, absorb culinary ideas, select fine wines, and look for pockets of sustainable farming practices. As a Pensacola native, Chef Jim uses his knowledge of local waters and his families’ farming histories to promote “New Ruralism,” a movement to champion sustainable agriculture and sustainable fishery practices at the urban edge.

Jim lives in Santa Rosa Beach with his partner and fiancée, Kelli, and their two children, Elodie and James.

Get in touch

Louisiana Seafood Promotion &
Marketing Board
1051 North Third Street, 3rd Floor
Baton Rouge, La. 70802
Call: 225.342.0552
Email: thess@crt.la.gov