Innisfree Hotels and Hilton Pensacola Beach’s very own Celebrity Chef Dan Dunn has been awarded as Chef of the Year with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.
Chef Dan Dunn is a Florida native, born in St. Pete and raised in Pensacola, that has been Executive Chef at the Hilton for 10-years. For eight of those years, he has been recognized as a celebrity chef in the Pensacola area. We caught up with Dan and talked about what it means to him to be a chef in Pensacola.
“I truly love Pensacola and the variety of fish we have right in the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. “I also love cooking outdoors. The weather here allows me to do that almost all year long.”
Being an ambassador for the Pensacola area is a big part of what Dan does as a chef in Pensacola.
“I’m always promoting Pensacola through my food,” he says. “We were just up in Nashville promoting a new direct flight between Nashville and Pensacola. It’s so much fun to share Pensacola with other people.”
But Dan isn’t just promoting Pensacola–he’s involved with the community.
“I am involved with all of the fundraisers here at the Hilton,” says Dan. “I’m also involved with the First City Art Center doing Hot Glass Cold Brew.”
Chef Dunn has also been part of Innisfree’s From the Ground Up Community Garden. The Community Garden is part of Innisfree’s corporate social responsibility program called The Hive. These garden events allow Chef Dunn to pursue his love for cooking outdoors.
“We’ve done about three or four dinners at the Community Garden,” he says. “It was really awesome. We got to do a farm-to-table event and it was a great way to bring the community together.”
And bringing people together is what it’s all about for Dan.
“Food brings people together,” he says. “I even try to bring my own family to the dinner table every evening.”
Even though Chef Dunn has been given awards in the past, this award was a big one for him.
“Chef of the Year”, he says. “That’s pretty huge. I was blown away when I heard about it.”
Chef Dunn usually finds himself busy on most days, but he tries to take advantage of the great activities and weather here in Pensacola when he can.
“I try to get out on the beach every morning for a walk before I come to work,” he says. “I also love to surf and fish for pompano when I get the chance. I love living out here on Pensacola Beach.”
But even when Chef Dunn finds himself without free time, he finds himself totally at peace.
“I love to stay busy,” he says. “Entertaining and cooking for people is my passion. The word ‘no’ just isn’t in my vocabulary.”
Chef Dunn is looking forward to being part of the growth of Pensacola and Innisfree.
“This area and Innisfree has experienced a lot of growth in the past few years,” he says. “It’s been a lot of fun to be part of that.”
You can follow Chef Dunn on Instagram @4dunns to catch a glimpse of his love for food, photography, art and Pensacola.
Chef Dan Dunn would like to thank the following events and associates over the years.
Children’s Home Society
Arc Gateway (Crab Cake Cook-Off)
The Mall Ball
Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital
Best of Pensacola
First City Art Center
Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida