Chef David Bishop Celebrates a Decade of Cooking Up Good Times at Bud & Alley’s
November 16, 2017 by Zandra Wolfgram
Though you may find him fishing, you won’t likely ever find Chef David Bishop fishing for compliments.
Hardworking, focused and self-effacing, Bishop would rather be nearly anywhere than in the spotlight. Not surprisingly, the place he is most at home, most relaxed and happy is in his kitchen at Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant in Seaside, which is where we caught up with him recently between lunch and dinner service.
Born and raised on the Emerald Coast, Chef David Bishop has a life-long affinity for working with fresh, local farm-to-table ingredients and Gulf coast seafood — his favorite food to eat and prepare both at work and at home.
“Seafood dishes tend to excite me the most,” Bishop says. “Because we’re right here on the Gulf we get such great seafood much of it right here from local fishermen, and because the possibilities are nearly endless.”
Bishop, 48, who is Executive Chef for Bud & Alley’s started cooking at the age of 15. His first job was washing dishes at a country club in Destin. He worked his way into pantry making salads and soon realized he not only had a “knack for it,” but he also had a passion for it.
“I loved being able to serve good food that you may not get at home,” he said. “It was interesting, new and exciting.”
He started devouring cookbooks – there was no internet back then – and honed his culinary skills working under good chefs in restaurants in New Orleans, Atlanta and Aspen.
“I found a place in an industry where everyone was eager to share for one willing to learn. That was fun and it became addicting. I became a sponge and just soaked it all in,” he says.
After gaining valuable experience across the country he returned home and worked at another upscale restaurant on 30A before joining Bud & Alley's Waterfront Restaurant 10 years ago.
Today, Bishop leads a team of about 50 and oversees everything in the kitchen at the Bud & Alley's flagship location overlooking the Gulf, as well as the Taco Bar, Pizza Bar, and on-site catering.
After the famous Crab Cakes served on a bed of mixed greens drizzled with lemon butter, Bishop says the Grilled Gulf Grouper is the most popular dish. But when we spoke he was particularly excited about a new item on the menu, his Baked Pacific Halibut dish, which he said is prepared with “bay scallops and shrimp whipped in with some butter that is on top of smoked gouda bacon girts surrounded with sautéed baby kale, garlic and roasted sweet red peppers.”
Bishop keeps the menu fresh by changing it with the seasons, and whenever possible he snaps up Triggerfish. “It’s a very friendly fish to cook. You can bake, grill or fry it nearly any way. It’s mild, white, flaky and tasty, but you wouldn't think that by looking at them,” he says.
Bud & Alley’s has become Seaside’s most iconic restaurant and has garnered numerous culinary awards. And after more than three decades, new generations are bringing their children to dine here. But none of that seem to daunt Bishop.
“It’s like a culture that goes on here. Everyone knows when they come here they will have a good time, a good seat to see the view, and good food. All of us work together to create this utopia,” he says. “I don’t need accolades. I’d rather my food speak for itself. I’m just one part of a big team that tries to do what we do and do it well.”
But Bud & Alley’s owner/founder Dave Rauschkolb gives him much more credit than that saying, “Chef Dave Bishop is a rock-solid chef on all cylinders, and for the last 10 years he’s been an essential part of carrying on the sea-to-table culinary tradition that Bud & Alley’s pioneered on the Northwest Florida Gulf coast 32 years ago.”
What would Bishop do if he wasn’t a chef? “I have no idea … maybe just fish for a living. That sounds like fun. But, I guess I’d still cook it up … I mean, you gotta eat, right?”