Born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida, Gavin and his family moved to the Destin area when he was sixteen to discover other opportunities.

Immediately upon relocating, Gavin joined the food and beverage industry as a dishwasher in a full-service restaurant in the heart of 30A before moving on to explore a couple of fast food-chains.

At eighteen, Gavin accepted a position on the opening culinary team as a cook for a restaurant featuring cuisine inspired by the Gulf Coast, Caribbean Islands, New Orleans, and “Lowcountry.”

From there, Gavin accepted a position as a lead prep cook — setting his team up for success at a well-established, “good ole” barbecue restaurant.

Next, Gavin accepted a position, once again, on the opening culinary team for a local restaurant and sports bar as a lead line cook before moving into a role that required him to travel to open other restaurants. Gavin was promoted to Assistant Kitchen Manager and met a gentleman that educated him on the overall operations for the back of the house and kitchen, which included hiring, purchasing of food and supplies, training of the team, calculating kitchen expenses, and much, much more.  

As a result of this mentorship and understanding the age-old idiom, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” Gavin seeks not only like-minded, self-motivated and driven individuals to add to his teams, but also who are passionate about learning and paying that knowledge forward by teaching others, and who recognizes the restaurant operation as a whole — versus seeing the “back of the house” and the “front of the house” as separate entities.

After accepting the Sous Chef position at an upscale restaurant known for chef-inspired scratch cuisine, Gavin went on to continue his management career with a hybrid role of Kitchen Manager/Assistant General Manager for a Southern-style “family kitchen” franchise.

Gavin is proud of his journey, and as a self-taught professional, he says if he can do it — anyone can do it.

When he is not at the restaurant, you can find Gavin at home with his family, grilling outdoors, or maybe watching or partaking in a softball or basketball game — and in the not so distant future, you’ll most likely find Gavin in Italy, enjoying his all-time favorite cuisine.

Learn more about Chef Jim Shirley