Flora-Bama Ole River Grill
Flora-Bama Ole River Grill
* ASPA Chef of the Year 2017 *
Chef Jon Gibson started his culinary career “flippin’ burgers” at the local Hardee’s restaurant and kept moving by trying his hands at tossing pizza dough at the local Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
Chef Gibson has always been in or near the restaurant business by either being head bartender, food and beverage director, or a restaurant general manager. It wasn’t until he started traveling around the U.S. and a several years in Sicily, when things just “clicked”. “This is what I want to do”, “this is me.” After returning to the states to he decided it was time for a formal education, at which time he moved to Pasadena, California to attend Le Cordon Bleu.
While attending Le Cordon Bleu he was fortunate enough to work along side of Cat Cora and Guy Fieri at the 2006 L.A. Food and Wine Festival, and worked with two star Michelin Chef Edouard Loubet. He has also made numerous appearances performing cooking demonstrations at the 2009/2010/2011 Taste of Newport, KTLA morning news, Orange County Register, “Cooking with OC Chefs”, Coast Magazine, KABC 790AM Chef Irby’s “Bikini Lifestyles” radio show, and published in Chef Irby’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cooking Quinoa” cookbook.
After graduating with honors he moved into the corporate world and after a brief period he discovered that his creative talents and ingenuity was not being utilized to their fullest potential.
He was then approached by The Beachcomber Café at Crystal Cove and after a few tastings, he was brought on as Sous Chef and after a matter of just a few months he was promoted and was a driving force in Californian Coastal and Southern Cutting Edge Cuisine in Orange/LA County for several years.
Chef Jon returned to the Alabama Gulf Coast and his southern culture as the Executive Chef of Bill’s by the Beach in Gulf Shores, AL. He then transitioned to his current position as Executive Chef at Flora-Bama Ole River Grill in Pensacola, FL. His extensive travels across the U.S. and Europe, classic French and Italian culinary training, as well as access to the best local Gulf Seafood and locally farmed ingredients, have added a new dimension and twist on comfort food and Southern cuisine.
“I prefer to call it coastal comfort cuisine”. “This is when I take comfort food that you or I grew up with and put a different spin on it, but also staying true to the ingredients inside and the hominess of the dish itself.”
Using all of his talents and experiences and the setting of being on the beach, Chef Jon is bringing an eclectic culinary dimension on Southern cuisine with subtle touches of Californian, Pacific Rim, Southwest, and European cuisines incorporated into the menu’s that changes every six months to reflect the use of fresh seasonal ingredients and proteins. He is happy to be back in his home state and looking forward to “turning southern cuisine on its ear”.