The ‘Best Backyard on Pensacola Beach’ is under new leadership.

Ben Thorpe, the Director of Food & Beverage at Red Fish Blue Fish, comes to us from the interior of Oregon.

“I grew up in the Pacific Northwest just south of Portland,” he says. “More recently, I was working with Facebook, where I assisted in the rollout of food service at their data center in Prineville, Oregon.”

But to get Ben’s full food & beverage story, we have to go back to his formative years.

“I grew up in a food-focused family,” he says. “My parents were early adopters of a sustainable food mentality, and we spent much of our time gardening and cooking when I was younger.”

Those activities would later influence Ben’s professional trajectory.

“I got my start working for Brinker International at a Macaroni Grill,” he says. “Since then, I have owned my own farm-to-table restaurant in Idaho, opened and operated restaurants in Montana, Washington D.C. and Ohio.”

It was Facebook where Ben found harmony between his passion for food and family.

“It was one of my best experiences working for someone else,” he says. “As a chef, it was the first time where I felt like I had a healthy balance of personal time away from work. Mark Zuckerberg really believes and demonstrates their company value ‘Ship Love,’ which means to execute every interaction or task with passion and dedication towards creating the best experience possible.”

The search for warmer climes opened the door for Ben’s eventual position at Red Fish Blue Fish, where he has been impressed with the operation and Innisfree Hotels.

“As a company, I am impressed by their vision for growth,” he says. “I have a great deal of respect for Julian and the broad family he has created. The commitment to grow in greater sustainability, both towards the environment as well as in our company culture, is refreshing.”

Innisfree’s turn toward more sustainable operations and Ben’s future plans are in perfect sync.

“I hope to influence and grow our store’s further commitment as a sustainable conscience operation,” he says. “I also hope to improve the consistency and quality of our offerings and further build a team that loves to set the table of hospitality for our guests.”

Ben has fit in seamlessly at the restaurant, but he admits there has been some Southern culture shock.

“Let me just say that I have learned to order my iced tea unsweetened,” says Ben.

Away from the kitchen, Ben’s hobbies are surprisingly similar to his daily work interests.

“I am an avid forager and gardener,” he says. “I love exploring the outdoors with my family. As a chef, I have enjoyed using and incorporating regional flora and fauna into my cooking. Being in a new region of the US opens up a whole new palette of flavors and experiences for me to explore.”

To learn more about Red Fish Blue Fish, visit the website at