By Susan Benton, 30A Eats
Chanticleer Bakery & Eatery has quickly made a name for themselves in the South Walton community with food to crow about! They recently celebrated their first birthday with a party at their eatery on 55 Clayton Lane in Grayton Beach. Husband and wife team Suzanne Wilson and Joseph Arnold, unexpectedly joined forces with their daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Sandro Wever, opening a bountiful bakery and café in the Shops of Grayton.
Their story began when Joseph and his wife Suzanne traveled across Europe in 2003. French markets and Parisian bakery’s offering fresh produce, baguettes and pastries, gave the couple inspiration for a better way of life.
It was not until a return trip in 2007 that they decided to commit to making healthy changes, with Joseph claiming, “We needed that wake up call. We returned home and started eating fresh foods, gardening and baking.”
As time passed, Suzanne felt like the couple might one day have their own bakery, but Joseph thought it to be far fetched. They began selling their delectable bread creations at The Seaside Farmers Market in 2009. The Beer Bread, originally a grain, turned beverage, and then to food as Joseph claims, is also quite popular. He selects different beers for robust flavors, making each loaf unique.
Joseph says, “Customers went crazy over the Honey Oatmeal Bread, which is still a big seller. I made this bread, as I’m Diabetic and was looking for a white bread substitute for sandwiches. During tomato season, I have to have a sandwich!”
With the bread business booming it was no longer practical to bake at home, so Joseph and Suzanne leased a commercial kitchen catering space where they were allowed to bake at night. Within a short period of time the couple’s far-fetched dream became reality when they purchased a building in the Shops of Grayton to expand.
Suzanne, a fan of the Canterbury Tales, was inspired from their French travels and liked the name Chanticleer, which became the name for the bakery.
During this same time period, daughter Emily and husband Sandro, both longing to own their own restaurant, were working at a non-profit youth camp; Emily as a director, and Sandro as Kitchen Manager, when they lost their jobs due to economic issues with the camp. Their unfortunate layoffs came at the perfect time, as with Sandro’s 20 years of restaurant management experience, Emily says, “We decided to go for it!”
Emily and Sandro teamed up with Joseph and Suzanne and opened a restaurant in the new bakery creating Chanticleer Bakery & Eatery. Emily says, “The locals have really embraced us. We have enjoyed getting to know them.”
The team at Chanticleer Bakery & Eatery is ingredient driven and uses as much local product as possible. They shop at the Seaside Farmers Market and are adamant about getting the best quality possible.
Offering breads, pies, custom cakes and tarts in the bakery, one of the signature menu items in the eatery is the Chanticleer Grilled Cheese on Rosemary Sage Bread. Using preservative free bacon, fresh made bruschetta, and the triple threat of mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar, this sandwich hits a home run.
Though not classically trained, Joseph says, “We are not scared to try new recipes. If I taste something I like, I try to recreate it. I experiment all of the time! I have worked over a year on my Whole Wheat Sunflower Flaxseed Bread. The seeds are all the way through, not just on top!”
Sandro’s Chicken Salad Sandwich, also popular, is packed with marinated, cooked and shredded chicken, combined with apples, and served on Honey Oatmeal Bread. The Southern Summer Salad also in demand, is filled with oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries, Gorgonzola and candied pecans, served on a bed of fresh mixed greens.
With plans for expansion, and the incorporation of a diverse dinner menu offering beer and wine selections, Emily says, “ Everything fell into place, and so far it has been a great journey.”
Chanticleer Bakery & Eatery is located at 55 Clayton Lane in Grayton Beach. Hours are Monday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more info call (850) 213-9065, or visit their website at www.sowalbakery.com.
Susan Benton is the go to resource for foodies visiting Pensacola to Panama City Beach. She is a food and travel journalist with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.