A giant paella pan sizzles with gulf shrimp and the smell of local sausages wafts through the salty sea air on the patio at Farm & Fire. The inspiration for this Santa Rosa Beach venue comes from cultural meeting places such as izakayas, pubs, taverns and tapas bars that bring communities together around food and drink.
Pensacola native and restaurateur, Chef Jim Shirley draws upon his knowledge of local waters and his family’s farming history to promote “New Ruralism,” a movement to champion sustainable agriculture at the urban edge, which he sees younger people embracing. “By having restaurants that are chef-driven, you can change the way they feel, and it creates a certain effect,” Jim said. “That’s the secret to our success.”
Add to this Emerald Coast food scene Joyce Russell, known as the “Paella Queen.” A couple evenings each week, Joyce whips up massive pans of paella for waiting-list-only gatherings of dozens, if not hundreds of guests.