A picture of comfort and sophistication abound at Highlands House Bed & Breakfast located along the south side of Highway 30A in Blue Mountain Beach. Nestled on a seaside patch of paradise surrounded by “Old Florida” cottage homes and snuggled beside protected wetlands with unique geographical coastal dune lakes nearby, you will be drawn to this space for its natural beauty and high level of service offered by Executive Chef Kevin Purdy and team.
Marc Russack, who wanted to refurbish the space and move to the area permanently, purchased the historic antebellum style Santa Rosa Beach home thirteen years ago. Marc recently reached out to Chef Purdy to take command of the newly renovated kitchen space, as Purdy quickly became well known in the area for his delicious seafood creations while at his former post, Marina Café in Destin.
A young chef to watch, Purdy is a South Florida native who grew up dividing his time between Miami and Freeport, Bahamas where his family ows a scuba diving business. He knew at an early age he was driven to be a chef, and says, “My mother and grandmother inspired and influenced me in the kitchen. My mom grew up in Atlanta, had a family farm in Clarksville, Tennessee, and food was a big part of our life celebrations. Food memories growing up made me take an interest in cooking, and the more I experimented with flavors, the more I was hooked!”
Purdy attended hospitality school at Florida International and learned Peruvian cooking when hired for his internship in Coconut Grove. Upon graduating he followed with a stint working for the family business in the Bahamas as a private chef cooking three meals a day, plus tapas for their twenty-five guests and crewmembers.
Chef Purdy moved on to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park where he completed an internship at Charleston’s Peninsula Grill. Trying Nashville on for size he worked as chef de cuisine for his mentor, Chef Bob Waggoner of Watermark, when he rang for Purdy’s next move. Purdy says, “Chef Waggoner is a phenomenal person and amazing talent. His awards and accolades in the United States and Europe are unprecedented. He is professional, charismatic and I’m honored that he helped mold me into the chef I am today.”
That passion for sustainable seafood, fishing and draw to the Gulf are what brought Chef Purdy home to the Emerald Coast. Some of the most popular dishes to date at Highland’s House are the Peruvian flavors captured in the fresh juicy coastal ceviche, the Shrimp & Grits with house made Tasso and Abita Beer Gravy, the spicy New Orleans Blackened Gulf Shrimp Po-Poy with house crafted cherry pepper remoulade, and the scrumptious Harbor Docks caught fish of the day served with coconut rice, fresh made chimichurri, then topped with crispy plantains.
The Korean inspired Bibimbap Burger made with Asian spiced ground sirloin is topped with a perfectly prepared fried egg and house made kimchi, also making waves with its electric flavor profile.
Guests staying the night are afforded service in style as each of the rooms at the Inn are dripping in a costal chic décor, featuring original furnishings from local artisans providing an eclectic atmosphere. Those fortunate enough to wake for breakfast will be offered tantalizing dishes like the Malted Pecan Waffle with Vermont Maple Syrup or the Country Ham & Cheddar Omelet with house-made Candied Bacon.
Catering is available on site and off for weddings, business events and family reunions. Highland’s House is open to the public for happy hour, dinner nightly, and Sunday brunch that includes a bubble bar and menu items like Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken & Waffles.
Chef Purdy says, ”I’m lucky to be able to watch the sun rise and set on the Gulf while utilizing the best and freshest seafood caught straight from these waters. Combining that with the local sourced produce, food just doesn’t get any better.”
Highland’s House Bed & Breakfast is located at 4193 West County Highway 30A. Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday 4pm to 9pm with Brunch available on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm, and live music showcased on the weekend. The restaurant is closed on Monday. Highland’s House is pet friendly and offers gluten free and children’s menu options. For more information and events taking place like the Paella Party in September, visit www.highlandshouse.com, Highlands House Facebook page or call (850) 660-1946.