Chef Tim Creehan has a lot to be excited about these days, beginning with being named Restaurateur of the Year by Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.
Creehan was on his way back from a business trip to San Francisco when he got the call inviting him to Northwest Florida's FRLA awards banquet at the Emerald Grande in Destin on Dec. 3.
Creehan said he called his sister to see if she knew anything about the request of his presence, but she did not.
"But I knew something was up," he said.
Many awards were handed out that night in several categories, and Creehan kept waiting and wondering. When his name was finally called to receive the Restaurateur of the Year award, the chef said it was a total surprise.
"I was stunned," said Creehan. "It's like Christmas came early. It was a nice honor."
The award comes through a nomination process by members of FRLA, and is not a public vote, he said. The FRLA board then makes the final decision.
This award came on the heels of Creehan's Cuvee Destin being announced as the sole Destin recipient of the prestigious 2015 Golden Spoon Award. Creehan's casual fine-dining staple Cuvee Destin has now been honored with a total of six consecutive Golden Spoon Awards from Florida Trend magazine, often being the lone recipient in Destin.
Creehan partnered to open his first restaurant in the area on April 4, 1988, which was Marina Cafe, and located above the yacht club. The restaurant saw tremendous success in its first five years. He was there for 15 years.
Charles Morgan then hired him to open Creehan's Market.
Creehan then opened Beach Walk restaurant in Destin, which he sold in 2010 to the Henderson Park Inn.
The chef opened Cuvee Destin on U.S. Highway 98 in 2010.
Still expanding, Creehan opened his newest restaurant, Cuvee 30A, in Inlet Beach in 2015.
Never content to sit still, Creehan told The Sun there is more to come as he has two new projects in the works.
The chef has developed a totally organic chicken sandwich for a new totally organic restaurant opening in California.
"The owners and I met in Grand Cayman on a trip to Eric Ripert's annual event at the Ritz," he said. "They struggled to get the product the way they wanted and reached out to me after meeting and knowing my background. After I sent samples to them, they said, 'You're our guy!' Since then, we have been on Fox News."
Creehan said the owners are on a five-year plan to open 300 restaurants where every ingredient in everything in the restaurant is certified organic.
"There will be nothing at those restaurants that is not certified organic," he said.
Also new this year for Creehan will be a fresh meat and seafood market he is building in Inlet Beach, which he describes as being similar to Destin Ice & Seafood, which he is taking to the next level, or Wine World. In addition to fresh seafood and gourmet meats will be gourmet cheeses and fine wines, along with some prepared food. Market 30A is scheduled to open in April between the new Donut Hole and Crossings shopping plaza.
"I feel there is such a huge need in that area. There's no competition," he said. "And, I'm not getting younger."