From “riding the slicers” to working as a cell site technician and breakfast shifts at McDonald’s, Ben’s journey to executive chef has been a wild one — full of twists, turns, and adventures. Ben brings us his years of hospitality, culinary skills, and life experience.

Born at Eglin Air Force Base near Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, Ben’s travels have taken him to places like Iowa, Wisconsin, Italy, and Costa Rica (just to name a few), providing him with many culturally rich experiences.

Starting his career in the dish pit of an Italian deli at fourteen years old, Ben went on to work the slicers and pizza oven and tending bar before earning the role of front-of-the-house manager. As part of his culinary arts studies in Wisconsin at a local technical college, Ben interned in Turin, Italy, and helped open three concepts in the iconic Orpheum Theater shortly after returning home to downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Ben’s career continued back in Florida, where he worked in a string of restaurants up and down 30A — from casual to fine dining, in both front- and back-of-the-house management positions — before joining Chef Jim’s culinary team in 2014.

In addition to an endless supply of stories from past adventures, Ben brings a fun sense of hospitality to the kitchen where he works to help create a joyous guest experience — after all, enjoying great food and drinks with friends and family is what life is all about.

Passionate to use local farmers and the region’s seafood, working alongside Chef Jim at The Bay restaurant has been a rewarding experience. Ben recently moved across the street from The Bay to launch the company’s new dining concept, taking the role of executive chef.

When not at the restaurant, Ben enjoys gathering with friends and family enjoying food and music.

Open Daily 4–9 p.m.
Speakeasy open till 10 p.m.
Upstairs dining open Wed.–Sun. 4–9:30 p.m.
24200 US Hwy. 331 S.
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Learn more about Chef Jim Shirley