We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of 30A’s renowned Chef Brannon Janca. Janca’s legacy will live on through many local institutions, including his great pride and joy: the staff and community at Down Island Gulf Seafood Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach.
Janca co-founded Stinky’s Fish Camp with Chef Jim Richard and served as corporate chef/partner at Word of Mouth Restaurant Group before branching out to build his dream – Down Island Gulf Seafood restaurant – along with his wife, Stefani Pall.
Chef Janca’s soul food style was rooted in the traditions of Mississippi where he spent his summers in his grandfather’s gardens and chicken coops. He trained at The Culinary Institute of New Orleans, before honing his craft at Gautreau’s and Commander’s Palace. Chef Janca called Santa Rosa Beach home for the past 20 years.
Chef Janca was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2019, just as he was breaking ground on Down Island. He didn’t want his personal challenge to slow his team’s progress, so he kept working while quietly fighting this health battle behind the scenes. Just before Down Island opened, Brannon attained clinical remission. Unfortunately, the cancer soon took a terrible turn, and Chef Janca began treatments again.
In December, 30A locals came together for Janca’s Jingle Bell Jamboree, a community fundraiser to support Chef Janca’s cancer treatments. Unfortunately, his cancer rapidly advanced, and Chef Janca passed away on Thursday, March 22.
Chef Brannon Janca was not only a highly talented and creative chef. but also a beloved member of the 30A and culinary communities.