Susan Benton, 30AEATS

Susan Benton, Owner | 30AEATS.com, Partner GulfcoastRestaurants.com

I love food it is just that simple, and no matter where I may travel, it is my mission to source out the best food and product possible. I enjoy meeting the people behind the operations; from chefs, fisherman, farmers, artisan cheese makers, wine makers and distillers…just to name a few. I find their work compelling and interesting, and am humbled to be surrounded by people in this industry that are so driven and dedicated to their craft. Their work feeds our basic needs, yet can be transformed into magical works of artistry on a plate or in a glass.

30AEats.com began in September 2011 after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Passionate about the local community and Gulf Coast seafood, I decided to create a website to share with readers the people behind our food, where good food comes from, and where it can be found. It is my goal to help readers discover the flavors of our region so that they in turn support the people that feed us good food, invest in it and themselves, and buy artisan products.

I am a freelance food and travel journalist, media photographer, the owner of 30AEATS.com, and partner in GulfCoastRestaurants.com. I also develop and test recipes professionally for famed cookbook authors, chefs, and food establishments, and am often asked to judge food related competitions. I have two children; one is at the University of Alabama, the other is attending Georgia Tech, and I am married to an Orthopaedic surgeon which comes in handy.

I was in a near fatal head-on collision about 15 years ago, and the easiest way to describe the outcome is to say I broke everything but my right arm and my face, sustaining internal injuries as well. Divine intervention, my superior medical team (which yes, included my now husband), and family stood by me through more than forty surgical procedures, and are what got me to the place where I am today.

My former husband now friend, had family owned restaurant’s in New Orleans and was considered “raised in the business”. His uncles and cousins were shrimpers and fishermen, while his mother and aunts were chefs, cooks and seafood wholesalers; most still working today in the Rigolets and living along the Chef Menteur. Upon meeting at LSU in Baton Rouge, we both held jobs in the restaurant industry and upon graduation he continued to pursue his culinary career, while I went on to my studied field of education and health in Ascension Parish (Donaldsonville, La.). Fortunately,  Chef John Folse was nearby at (now former) Lafitte’s Landing to inspire me with his classic Cajun and Creole cuisine.

I spent many years in New Orleans, and my passion for good food and cultural heritage fueled my cooking while my father was stationed, and retired there. Growing up on the Gulf Coast and abroad as a child, I have great memories of crabbing after grade school along the Ashley River in Charleston, making Pancit with our house nanny Lourdes in the Philippines, and cooking my first significant meal in Algiers, Louisiana at the age of fifteen. I eagerly prepared Jambalaya in a cured black iron skillet using Leon Soniat’s recipe from La Bouche Creole, and though I may have added just a pinch too much cayenne pepper, my family made kind remarks and cooled down quickly with sweet tea!

As the daughter of a Naval Officer who was stationed all over the world, I was fortunate to learn about new cultures and try many cuisines. I traveled the globe with the anticipation of each new place we were going to visit or live, but my Southern roots run deep.

My father and generations before him hail from Alabama, and were in the Grocery business in Carbon Hill, while my mother’s family is from Georgia with some lingering  in Savannah. Most migrated to Orlando to live in the “country”, rich with orange groves and agriculture, where my mother was raised. My Grandmother went on to remarry her high school sweetheart after my grandfather passed, and joined him as a peanut farmer in Statesboro, Georgia. I have amazing childhood memories of visiting them on the farm, driving their tractor through the peanut fields, catching catfish in the nearby pond with my sister, and sharing fresh farm-to-table meals with family and friends.

Living on the Gulf Coast for more than 30 years (New Orleans, Houma & Mobile) and Northwest Florida for the last seventeen, I have built a lifetime of food knowledge, skills, and relationships with people in the industry.  I am always eager to learn and absorb new ideas, and share ways to incorporate and promote local fisherman, chefs, farmers, artisans and restaurants into the “new” movement of the moment, savoring the relationships and the legacy of our Southern culture.

~Susan

Owner of 30AEATS.com
Partner at GulfCoastRestaurants.com
Contributor to The Daily Meal
Contributor to Emerald Coast Magazine
Contributor bi-monthly to Thirty-A Review Magazine
Contributor to VIE Magazine
Contributor to Beaches, Resorts and Parks Magazine
Contributor to Coastal Lifestyles Magazine
Contributor monthly to The Seaside Times
Contributor to 30A.com
Contributor to 30A EATS on Sowal.com
Contributor to Honest Cooking Magazine
Contributor monthly to C Team Blog at Southern Coterie (Southern Living Blog)
Contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine
Association of Food Journalists
Member IFWTWA
Association of Food Bloggers
Member James Beard Foundation
Member of the Southern Foodway Alliance
Member of the Cultural Arts Alliance
Sustainer-Member Junior League of Pensacola
Member of The Fishin Chix, Pensacola

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