Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday May 21st 2019

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Dinner With A Mission

By Sydney Robison

It has been six months since Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida just to the east of our beloved Pensacola Beach, killing 43 people and causing an excess of $6 billion in damage.

Now, Pensacola residents can support their coastal neighbors in a big way by enjoying oysters and craft beer while also celebrating the success of Dothan-based “Top Chef” Kelsey Barnard Clark.

As part of Barleybrine Oyster & Craft Beer Weekend, Barnard Clark will be hosting a five-course meal being dubbed the “Bluegrass and Sunshine” Beer Dinner.

Barnard Clark will be joined by local chefs Josh Warner of The District and David Penniman of Classic City Catering. The limited-seating event will be held at Seville Quarter’s Heritage Hall and will also feature beer pairings from Apalachicola’s Oyster City Brewing Company.

Barnard Clark, currently the owner and executive chef of KBC, a sandwich shop in Dothan, was announced as the winner of the latest season of “Top Chef” earlier this month. She is just one of four women to have won the competition in the show’s 16 seasons.

“I wanted a woman to win this year, and especially being a woman who’s also a mother, it’s a double whammy if you ask me,” said Barnard Clark. “It was important to show [that] women can do it all. I think now is a time that people need to hear and see that.”

Barnard Clark is no stranger to the mission of the Barleybrine event, having grown up catching and eating seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

“My family is from Mobile, and we grew up going to the beach. Fishing is a huge part of my family,” Barnard Clark told Inweekly.

“I’ve said this pretty often—there’s two types of Southerners, Gulf Southern and farmer Southerner,” mused Barnard-Clark. “It’s totally different. Some people’s stories are of eating fried chicken and biscuits. My story is eating fresh seafood and vegetables all the time.”

Whether you’re a biscuit Southerner, a seafood Southerner, or a bit of both, attendees to the Barleybrine event will surely find lots to enjoy.

Proceeds from the dinner and from the rest of the event will go toward the Gulf Seafood Foundation, a nonprofit which focuses on safety and the economic value of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafood supply. Currently, their focus is on assisting fishermen affected by Hurricane Michael to get back to their industries and stimulating the Panhandle economy.

Barnard Clark met Panama City-based TAB Oyster Co. last year during another event hosted by the team behind Barleybrine—Blue Collards Events, a culinary events incubator—last fall. Days later, the oyster company was hit hard by Hurricane Michael.

Now, TAB will return with a guided oyster tasting on the same evening as Barnard Clark’s dinner, giving attendees a direct taste of the fantastic industry their attendance is helping to restore.

Event organizer T.S. Strickland says that the event’s mission goes far beyond a tasty dinner.

“‘The Forgotten Coast’ has been in the news a lot since the storm, but to most, it’s still just a headline,” said Strickland. “We want our guests to leave understanding why this place and its people are so special and why they shouldn’t be forgotten—especially right now.”

BLUEGRASS & SUNSHINE DINNER
What: A five-course beer dinner with Chef Kelsey Barnard Clark
When:  6-9 p.m. Friday, April 5
Where: Heritage Hall, Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St.
Cost: $125
Details: bluecollards.com/barleybrine