Culinary Experience

Featured Savor South Walton Chefs 2019 INFO COMING SOON!

Savor South Walton tents are sprinkled within the festival to allow guests to pair exquisite seafood and delectable appetizers with their current glass selection. Tents feature a unique culinary experience, included in ticket price. These tents focus on the food and culture of the Emerald Coast.
2018 Featured chefs include:

Chef Laurie Graupner

Executive Chef Laurie Graupner has her grandfather to thank for her introduction to the culinary arts. The two would watch cooking shows during her visits to California, which ultimately inspired the Menasha, Wisconsin native to pursue culinary school. Now a 14-year veteran of the culinary industry, Chef Graupner has honed her skills by working a variety of positions alongside a diverse group of chefs.
Chef Graupner first joined the team at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood five years ago as a part-time prep cook under the leadership of Chef Dan Vargo, the restaurant’s previous Executive Chef and newly appointed Executive Chef of Hilton Sandestin. Chef Graupner mentored under Chef Vargo as a prep cook for several years before earning the title of Sous Chef, and now Executive Chef of Seagar’s.
Named Executive Chef of the AAA Four Diamond restaurant in January 2017, Chef Graupner shares her predecessor’s passion for locally sourced ingredients and partnering with local purveyors. Building on her years of training with Chef Vargo, she is committed to enhancing the fine-dining experience at Seagar’s and is bringing new and innovative ideas to the already thriving culinary team.
Chef Graupner left Wisconsin and moved to Florida to broaden her knowledge in the culinary industry and to experiment with fresh, local produce and seafood available in the state. Even so, her favorite dish to prepare is sweet or savory risotto, and her favorite meal to eat is grilled ribeye with herbed gnocchi.

Chef Laurie Graupner will be featured during both Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings.

Chef Jim Shirley

Named the 2016 Perfect in South Walton Grand Champion Executive Chef, Jim Shirley will present his version of Modern Southern Cuisine. Chef Jim uses his knowledge of local waters and his families’ farming histories to promote “New Ruralism,” a movement to champion sustainable agriculture at the urban edge.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. His expertise is combining different flavors in ways unlike anyone else.For years, Shirley wrote a weekly column, “Good Grits!” for the Pensacola News Journal, and now writes on a regular basis for the newspaper’s columns “Chef’s Corner” and “Wine Time.” His cookbook, “Good Grits! Southern Boy Cooks,” is a compilation of the best recipes and entertaining stories from the “Good Grits!” newspaper column.

Jim is a member of the state board of directors of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and a recent president of the association’s Northwest Florida Chapter, founder and president of the Society of Great Southern Chefs, and a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. He is also one of the five distinguished Celebrity Chefs of Pensacola who were invited to New York City to cook at the James Beard House for the past three years.

Shirley’s signature dish, Grits à Ya Ya, is celebrated around the nation. The dish was named “The best Southern dish in the state of Florida” by “Florida Travel and Life” magazine. It was also chosen by U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller (then a Florida state representative) to take to Washington, D.C., for “A Taste of the South,” an event held on Capitol Hill for over 1000 dignitaries.

Chef Jim Shirley will be featured during Friday's Grand Tasting and Sunday's Brunch at Baytowne Provisions.

Chef Gio Filippone

Chef Filippone is currently the Executive Chef for Vue on 30a located in Santa Rosa Beach, Fl. The restaurant is located directly on the Gulf offering inspiration each day. “Our guests have the unique opportunity to dine just steps from the Gulf of Mexico, and our menu captures that experience,” he explains. “Each dish tells a story using what the eyes see in the view and what the palate tastes, creating an integrated dining experience.“ Before joining Vue on 30a, Chef Filippone’s career began at the Sheraton and Wyndam hotels where he served under experienced chefs and was able to fine-tune his skills and gain an understanding of his own abilities leading to his quick promotion to sous-chef. While working as an Executive Chef in Destin, Chef Filippone auditioned for Fox Broadcasting's culinary reality show, Hell's Kitchen, hosted by famed chef Gordan Ramsey. Filippone was asked to be a part of the Season 5 cast, which aired in January 2009. Making it to the top six on the show was hard work. Since his experience with Fox and Hell’s Kitchen and moving to Destin nearly a decade ago, Chef Gio, as many call him, has held the position of Executive Chef in a handful of area restaurants.

Now at the helm of Vue on 30a, Chef has incorporated all of his experiences into a refreshed menu which blends his twist of ‘American northern cuisine-meets American southern cuisine-meets southern Italy,’ with the fresh ingredients available in the area. Dishes like Pistachio Grouper have become a favorite for guests as well as his Fruits de Mer. These menu items plus others have reinvented Vue on 30a as a notable place to dine on 30A and has gained it notoriety by Florida Travel + Life Magazine naming Vue on 30a as "Best Waterfront Dining."

Chef Gio will be featured during Saturday's Grand Tasting.

Chef Javier Rosa

Originally from Puerto Rico, Rosa has traveled to more than 20 countries to hone his culinary skills, including excursions to Europe, Asia and the Caribbean to experience an array of global cuisines. Over the years, he has prepared meals for presidents, kings, queens and famous personalities from around the world. Rosa has spent most of his career with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company with stints in the United States, Europe, Middle East and the Caribbean. While working at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., he had the opportunity to thrill the palates of Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and opera superstar Luciana Pavarotti. At Grand Cayman Island, he hosted many celebrities including Iron Chef Morimoto, Jean Banchet, Michael Richard and Fabio Trabocchi.

Rosa is recognized as a culinary innovator and his art of plating and food styling have earned him numerous accolades in multiple newspapers and magazines. While serving with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, he was selected as a part of a training team charged with opening six new hotels with fine dining restaurants domestically and internationally. Rosa is also a former member of the Puerto Rico National Culinary Team and active member of the American Culinary Federation.

Most recently, Rosa was the Executive Chef for Levy Restaurants at Amway Arena in Orlando and Executive Chef at American Airlines Arena in Miami. While working for that organization, he served NBA franchises in both cities, including the year the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship in 2012. He also played an integral role in the 2012 ,2013 and 2014 U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York and for the opening of the Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

Chef Javier will be featured on both Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings.