fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

Chef Rob Burgess Shines at Firefly

By Jordan Staggs | Photography courtesy of Firefly PCB

At Firefly restaurant in Panama City Beach, Florida, dining transforms into an exceptional experience within a relaxed yet beautiful setting. Sitting under the big tree in the main dining room, with glowing “fireflies” throughout its branches, is akin to relaxing in a charming Italian courtyard. The casual fine-dining destination also includes a number of private dining rooms, the cozy and sophisticated Library Bar, and the upbeat sushi bar. But as much as patrons love the atmosphere of Firefly—which was meticulously restored to its former glory after Hurricane Michael caused the roof to collapse in October 2018—it’s the food that keeps them coming back. Firefly’s expansive menu offers a little bit of everything, and it’s all great!

On November 1, 2019, Executive Chef Rob Burgess took over the Firefly kitchen. Although the menu staples that guests know and love have remained, Burgess says he is also excited about adding some new signature dishes. “My favorite thing about the Firefly menu is the variety of items,” he says. “There are a lot of options without it being overwhelming to the customer—steaks, seafood, pasta, sushi. The abundance and availability of fresh local seafood we have are amazing, and the menu offers a mix of Southern-style food with a dash of Cajun-Creole influence and a little Italian flair.”

Firefly owner Dave Trepanier was thrilled to bring Burgess on board last year and says the transition has been even better than he could have hoped. “He’s the hardest-working chef I’ve ever been involved with,” Trepanier says. “Most of the time, he is the first in and the last out. Rob is an outstanding chef—he’s also a neat freak and a stickler for detail. I just spent a bunch of money on a brand-new kitchen after the storm, and he keeps the new equipment spotless, along with the rest of the kitchen. It’s fun seeing and tasting a new chef’s cuisine. They are all talented, but they each have their own styles and specialties.”

Burgess, who grew up on a small farm in South Carolina, spent much of his free time hunting and taking care of horses, chickens, rabbits, and goats. “My mother always made sure we had a home-cooked meal every night,” he says. “I think that’s where my love of food originated. After three years of attending Coastal Carolina University, I couldn’t find a major that really piqued my interest. I was working at a restaurant, trying to figure out life, and my general manager told me that if I was serious about cooking, I needed to consider going to culinary school. Three months later, I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta.”

Before starting at Firefly last year, Burgess was the executive chef of Saltwater Grill, a PCB favorite, for over seven years. He was also the chef at Panama Country Club and Laketown Wharf Resort, so his footing in the Gulf Coast culinary scene is solid, and his love for cooking hasn’t waned. “I’m thrilled to be working at Firefly,” he says. “We have an amazing staff that genuinely cares about the customers’ needs.”

The abundance and availability of fresh local seafood we have are amazing, and the menu offers a mix of Southern-style food with a dash of Cajun-Creole influence and a little Italian flair.

Burgess is working with Trepanier and his staff to make menu updates that both first-time visitors and avid Firefly fans are sure to love. “We’ve got so many things in the works!” he reveals. “I definitely want to bring escargot back to the menu, and I’ve been working on my gnocchi recipe, which I would love to pair up with confit chicken as a take on the classic Southern chicken and dumplings. Currently, we are also working on creating a catering menu to help make it more convenient for our event customers to choose exactly what they want.”

Trepanier says the Firefly sushi menu is also evolving, and those aren’t the only changes at the restaurant. “I’ve made one of our best longtime employees, Lance Vongerichten, a partner in the restaurant,” he says. “He has been our lead server and headed up our wine program for years, so we are looking for exciting changes in our wine list and more wine events coming up.”

Firefly, Firefly PCB, Firefly Panama City Beach, Dave Trepanier, Chef Rob Burgess

From fresh seafood and sushi, delicious steaks, homemade pasta, and a fabulous selection of wine and specialty cocktails to a signature catering menu, Firefly is stepping up its game. There’s no doubt it will keep bringing the best of casual fine dining to Panama City Beach.

“I love that the possibilities are endless when it comes to food,” Burgess expounds. “It’s also great having customers that are a little more adventurous with their dining choices—it really makes my job fun.”

Dining at Firefly is certainly an experience, and one best enjoyed by making a reservation in advance. The restaurant stays busy most nights, and (as with all good things) Chef Burgess’s fresh homemade dishes take time to create. Like many businesses in east Panama City Beach and Panama City, Firefly is also still feeling the residual effects of Hurricane Michael when it comes to staffing. Walk-ins are always welcome, and Trepanier and his team invite all guests to relax and enjoy an evening of endless possibilities!

— V —

Visit FireflyPCB.com to learn more, view the menu, and make a reservation today.

Read Responsibly

December 2023, Holiday Issue, Christmas, VIE Magazine, Lisa Burwell, Cover, Gift Guide, Holidays
Marisol Gullo, Not Too Shabby, Home, Decor, Interior Design, Santa Rosa Beach, Churchill Oaks
VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail