By Wendy Christian Whitney
No one expects to find a fun place to have a great lunch inside a church, but that’s exactly what you find at the Fireside Café, inside Destiny Worship Center in Miramar Beach. It was by design that Pastor Steve Vaggalis and Chef Max Hornsby who decided to open a café that anyone from anywhere can come in for a delectable lunch at a more than affordable price. Once the decision was made to open the café, Pastor Steve knew Chef Max was the one to make it all happen.
Maximillian Hornsby first started cooking at the age of 14 to help to his working mom. When he was old enough to get a job himself, he went to work at a country club as a dishwasher. It didn’t take long for Max to realize food was an art form that captivated him.
He quickly abandoned his Early Childhood Education classes at Georgia Southern University to pursue culinary classes at the Art Institute of Atlanta. As he proved his talent and honed his skills, he found himself being hired out as a “specialty chef.” Max knew he’d found his calling but felt something was lacking.
His father began to encourage Max that there was too much more in life than working at what you love but to love what you live. His stepmom, Gwen worked at Destiny Worship Center in the original front office. Making more than a commitment to work for the church, Max made a spiritual commitment to serve the Lord in this new location. He accepted a job in the maintenance department because that was where help was needed.
Knowing his background, Pastor Steve Vaggalis asked Max about starting a small coffee shop in the lobby area of the church for staff members. That vision quickly expanded when the Pastor decided the café needed to be available to the public, not only serving coffee but for making affordable, full-fledged meals with Max Hornsby as Café Chef and Manager. In October, 2011 the Fireside Café made its debut. Early on, the Café began serving 50-60 lunches per day. Those numbers have since more than doubled.
It was an unexpected blessing for Chef Max to find people taking note of his culinary skills, then asking him to cater private events, weddings, rehearsal dinners, private beach home dinners, corporate holiday parties and a bevy of other events. This blessing gave Max the opportunity to make yet another creative launch with his own business, Chef Max Catering.
Max and Pastor Steve admit this Café has a dual purpose in feeding the sheep. They both wanted to create a place where the community could gather for a unique lunch experience with friends and family or just to meet up for a fresh hot specialty coffee, created by their own Café Barista.
Max produces a fresh menu board every Tues.- Fri. 11am – 2pm for something different, off the beaten path and a place to meet up with a great group of people who serve in the café . They also open for coffee before every church service, on Saturday evenings 5pm-6:30pm and Sunday mornings 8am-10:30am before both Sunday Services.
Chef Max, his wife Kay and their 4 children Dakota, Max, Charlotte and Natalie live in Freeport, Florida. Making the drive every day into South Walton is just an opportunity to bless the community with his God given culinary gifts and to offer an open invitation to come by and join him for lunch weekdays or for coffee on weekends before each Destiny Worship Center service, loving the community through food, fun and fellowship.
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