Executive Chef Phillip McDonald takes the lead By Zandra Wolfgram
Chef Phillip McDonald joins the Bud & Alley’s team as executive chef of The Pizza Bar at Bud & Alley’s on 30A in Seaside.
McDonald, who was born and raised in Destin, recently returned to the Emerald Coast after a year honing his culinary skills with some of the best in the New York culinary scene, including a six-month stint as sous chef at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel.
Bud & Alley’s owner/founder Dave Rauschkolb said collaborating with McDonald is a natural. “We are both low-key local surfers passionate about serving up fresh food and creating a great dining experience. I’m thrilled that we are able to work together and look forward to all the ways Chef Phil will raise the ‘bar’ with us.”
Before opening a private, personal chef and catering service in 2006, McDonald worked in many of the area’s finest restaurants including Cuvee Beach, Criolla’s, Fish out of Water and Onano. Beyond New York, he has also worked in the kitchens of the culinary meccas cities of New Orleans, San Francisco and Portland.
Joining McDonald in the Pizza Bar kitchen is chef de cuisine Derek Langford. Langford, who received a culinary arts degree from Le Cordon Blue, worked for five years at Fish Out of Water, where he forged relationships with regional farmers and local fisherman to obtain the freshest produce and seafood and refined his classic French training with authentic Southern Gulf-coast traditions.
Chef Phil says he draws his menu inspirations from the Gulf of Mexico, local farms, his customers’ tastes and the five senses.
“Pizza is my passion and I am very excited at the opportunity to be a part of the Bud & Alley’s family. Dave has been a true visionary in the restaurant scene here in Seaside, and The Pizza Bar has been serious about making pizza the right way from day one. Together with the help of Chef Derek and our awesome staff, I’m looking forward to elevating everything from the food and cocktails to the dining experience,” McDonald said.
The Pizza Bar is all about being hands on. Chef Phil and his culinary crew, lead by chef de cuisine Derek Langford, make fresh batches of pizza dough, mozzarella cheese and pasta all by hand each day. Each 11-inch Neapolitana-style pizza pie is made to order and topped with fresh local produce, along with imported meats, cheeses for the most authentic taste. It is hand pressed and baked in a wood-fired brick oven stoked with southern oak. With temperatures nearing 750 degrees, the thin crust-style pizzas are cooked and served in minutes.
The menu features more than a dozen different “red” and “white” pizza pie offerings. There are popular classics such as the Margherita with fresh basil and mozzarella and roasted fennel sausage topped with house made sausage and fresh mozzarella, and some new choices such as the White Clam Pie with fresh shucked clams from Alligator Point and the Farmers Market pizza, which is a great showcase for fresh, seasonal vegetables sourced from local farms and fields. Artisan cheeses, fresh green salads, antipasto dishes, bruschetta, homemade soups, seasonal vegetables, and hearty pastas round out the menu.
“Dave will tell you The Pizza Bar was inspired by the cucinas of Naples, Italy,” McDonald said. “Our menu showcases dishes with a touch of rusticity. We want the food speak, so we’re all about keeping it simple, seasonal and delicious.”
There is a bar and wine list featuring domestic and imported beer and red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle and by the glass. Here wine is enjoyed the old Italian way — in a short glass.
Bud & Alley’s, South Walton’s longest established restaurant, pioneered the farm- and sea-to-table movement in Seaside and along 30A. Its devotion to serving dishes with the freshest possible ingredients extends to The Pizza Bar, which was inspired by a visit to Italy Dave Rauschkolb took with his wife, Carol (owner of the interior design company Carol Murphy Designs), and architect Leo Casas.
“We discovered this wonderful cafe on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that helped inspire the design for our own bistro along the Gulf,” Dave Rauschkolb said. The trio’s creative vision was fully realized when The Pizza Bar opened in 2008 on the south side of Seaside’s retail center next to the Obe Pavilion.
Guests of The Pizza Bar can experience these authentic flavors family-style in the courtyard, fireside at the bar, and on the veranda overlooking the Gulf. It is open daily at 11 a.m.
“We hope our guests find comfort in a restaurant that offers honest food prepared with care and served with a gracious spirit. Add a setting with a front row view of the Gulf of Mexico and you have a dining experience to remember,” Rauschkolb said.
Founded in 1986 in Seaside, Bud & Alley’s has become a revered gathering place by local patrons and visitors known for “Good Food. Good People. Good Times.” Over the years, Bud & Alley’s has garnered numerous awards including Florida Trend Magazine’s Golden Spoon Hall of Fame Award, designating the eatery as one of the Top 20 Restaurants in Florida.
For more information on The Pizza Bar at Bud & Alley’s, call (850) 231-3113 or visit www.budandalleys.com.
Visit Bud & Alleys online.