GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Chef John Chapman is back on the coast and his flavorful menu items have returned with him. "Chappy" as he is affectionately known, owned Chappy's Seafood Restaurant in Long Beach for more than 20 years until he was displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
"I lost everything in Katrina, my home and my restaurant, but we don't ask why; we don't get depressed about it," said Chapman
"We just try to move on and this is the same thing, I'm moving on from that."
After losing it all, Chappy relocated to Nashville, TN where he opened a new restaurant. All the while he longed to be here on the Gulf Coast. Fortunately, a local businessman and good friend by the name of Rip Daniels had just opened the Almanett Hotel in Gulfport and was looking for a chef like Chappy.
"It's a new building, but it's built with a whole lot of old kind of love and Chappy is certainly an example of that," said Daniels.
Daniels was a regular at Chappy's before the storm washed it away, for him, Chappy's return has been long awaited.
"He puts all of the coast into his cooking, for those people who visit the coast. You cannot come visit the coast without coming to see Chappy," said Daniels.
Chappy uses all fresh ingredients. He even showed off some crabs he was about to cook that were still alive. He believes cooking is much more than a hobby.
"My inspirations from love honey. I cook with love that's the difference. So we try to cook dishes that have traditional Creole ties then give them a current flip," said Chapman.
Before opening up Chappy's Bistro at the Almanett Hotel, he was just about ready to open a restaurant in Downtown New Orleans, but the liquor license was never granted. That's when he decided it was time to come home.
Chappy's Bistro serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and dinner from 5-10 p.m. On Sunday, he serves a three-course brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.