Great Southern Cafe’s Chef Jim Shirley Received Prestigious Torch Award from FRLA

Categories: Food, Local, News, People,
November 22, 2022,

for Outstanding Innovation and Education Practices in Hospitality

Northwest Florida chef and restaurateur Jim Shirley received the 2022 Torch Award presented by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) and is bestowed each year at the organization’s Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show in Orlando. The award was presented to Chef Jim during the FRLA fall board meeting on November 3 at the Caribe Royale Resort.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have been presented with the Torch Award at this year’s Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show,” Chef Jim shared after the event. “To join the ranks of previous recipients, including Thomas Keller, Geoffery Zakarian, Curtis Stone, Michelle Bernstein and more, is a great privilege. I am in good company and can’t thank the FRLA enough.”

FRLA created the Torch Award to honor outstanding chefs and restaurateurs who embody “illumination, energy, joy, victory, enlightenment, hope, and education.” These traits may be embodied through exceptional knowledge and leadership, philanthropic and community efforts, extraordinary talent and creativity, innovation and inspiration.

“I don’t know if you can apply all that to me,” Chef Jim laughed. “I’m just a man trying to do good with good grits, but I am honored to be a representative for a strong cause.”

This award comes on the heels of Chef Jim’s Great Southern Café’s naming as a recipient of the 2022 Wine Spectator Grand Awards—the iconic Seaside, Florida, restaurant’s tenth year on the list honoring restaurants with extraordinary wine programs. Great Southern Café was also recently named the winner of the Best Mojito in the 2022 Best of the Emerald Coast awards by Emerald Coast Magazine, while Chef Jim Shirley’s North Beach Social won the title for Best Outdoor Bar.

about FRLA

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association with over 10,000 members, including independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s $111.7 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state. Visit to learn more.

about chef jim shirley

Nationally recognized restaurateur Chef Jim Shirley is the owner of the Great Southern Café, The Meltdown on 30A, The Bay, Farm & Fire, North Beach Social, and The Chicken Shack in South Walton, Florida. He is also the co-owner of Great Southern Restaurants, which owns The Fish House, The Atlas Oyster House, The Fish House Deck Bar, and more in Pensacola, Florida. Chef Jim uses Southern accents with great skill and spirit, traveling far afield to graze and glean, absorb culinary ideas, select fine wines, and look for pockets of sustainable farming practices. As a Pensacola native, Chef Jim uses his knowledge of local waters and family farming histories to promote “New Ruralism,” a movement to champion sustainable agriculture at the urban edge. Jim is chair of the state board of directors of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and a past 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 and has cooked at the James Beard House numerous times.

Visit or follow on Instagram @chefjimshirley to learn more.

Visit to learn more.

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