Best Chefs of South Florida

With South Beach’s annual 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival starting up next week in Miami, South Florida is proving itself to be a global culinary destination. Distinctively, each of these chefs have been devoted Social Media Mavens.

First, Jeff McInnis hailing from Miami’s new Gigi in the retro-chic metro Miami mid-town location. McInnis a original Florida boy who was raised in a small town on Florida’s panhandle. He studied at Johnston and Wales in Charleston, South Carolina but has returned to Florida to claim his spot as one of Miami’s best chefs.

Before venturing back to Florida chef Mcinnis worked his way around the world including gigs in Charleston, in the Caribbean on St. Johns (the U.S. Virgin Island), San Francisco and in Virginia. Then getting his footing back into a Florida goove he became the chef de cuisine of South Beach’s DeLido Beach Club in the new Ritz Carlton-on South Beach. After spending countless hours stationed on the New American Riviera honing his craft he moved to his new post at Gigi. Gigi features a menu that “offers a cutting-edge, high-performance, communal comfort foods for the discerning South Floridian palate.”

The next South Florida chef on our list to watch out for is Miami’s Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill,which is also located in Miami’s Mid-town. Balloo was born in New York and raised in the culinary diverse San Francisco. Timon’s heritage is Trinidadian and being a child raised with Chinese and East Idian parents has loaned him the cookery inheritance that is distinctively Caribbean. This exotic and unique upbringing is reflected in Balloo’s food–he is widely known for his ability to ”juxtapose unlikely ingredients in interesting ways.” Chef Balloo also attended Johnston & Wales and through their international program worked at the Hotel Metropole in Belgium under French Master Chef Dominic Michou.

Our next Miami culinary honoree is Marco Ferraro of Wish at the Tiffany hotel located in the Art Deco District of Miami Beach. Born in Calabria, Italy, Ferraro has been described as “a rising star whose unpretentious, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine perfectly blends comfort and a Miami sophistication.” Boasting an impressive resume that includes being a graduate of the famed French Culinary Institute and Italcook in France, mastering classic French cooking at Le Mantel in Cannes and Le Muscandin in Mougins before coming to the United States to train and work with culinary superstar Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jean-Georges in New York City. He then helmed Jack’s La Jolla in California for several years as the chef de cuisine before accepting his current position at Wish.

Next chef to be included into this Florida mix is Michael Beloise of Miami’s newest Biscanye Corridor row of restaurants the Great American Noodle Bar. Michael another chef hailing from a small town on Florida’s west coast. With a distinctively worldly-wise culinary roots Michael was the previous chef at Wish in the Art Deco District on South Beach. Before opening his latest great culinary adventure in Miami’s northern metro corridor, he was a private estate chef in old monied city of Palm Beach. His new address is slightly removed from the mid-town hustle and yet its positioning is prized by local business. Close enough to the business center of midtown Miami but, distinctively placed in a location that screams “locals-only”.

Like many South Florida chefs, Michael’s cookery heritage is based upon a family pedigree. Born to a family of Asian and Italian parents, his cookery-style has been composed to mimic the best of both family traits. His Asian side brings out Michael’s creative use of exotic ingredients and culinary frugality. His Italian heritage brings to bare the use of freshly harvested ingredients served in a family style. Both pedigreed traditions are the origins and composition of this new eatery.

Further to the north in Fort Lauderdale, where Miami’s Biscayne Corridor turns into U.S. Highway 1 is another archetypal South Florida chef Michael Bennett. As the executive chef of Fort Lauderdale’s heralded – 26 year culinary landmark – the Left Bank restaurant, Michael built a “Zagat Survey” and “Michelin” rated reputation for creative seafood compositions. His current post as Executive chef at the Caribbean seafood grounded Bimini Boatyard, chef Michael has grown into a local Social Media culinary personality.

Born and raised just city blocks away from Bimini Boatyard, chef and author Michael Bennett is a winsome South Floridian. Chef Bennett’s latest Caribbean themed restaurant conception follows working for a protracted four year juncture in the Caribbean. He has composed two cookbooks stemming from and detailing these Caribbean and Miami culinary adventures; “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” (based on a “Caribb-ican” cookery style) and “Underneath a Cloudless Sky” (an exotic (Miami) tropical cookery manuscript).


South Florida’s bedroom community – Fort Lauderdale, has produced many fine eateries including; Chef Dean Maxx’s3030. 3030 is your classic chef-driven restaurant placed in a tourist destination hotel that now features locally grown foods as its eponym. Quite the work-a-holic, Chef Dean has another place that recently opened on the British Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. Locally sourced tropical provisions and seafood abound across his new menu. Chef Maxx takes great pride in advising all who follow him on the Social Media savanna about the fresh picked foods that come straight out of their own nearby gardens.

Chef Dean has brought fame to the restaurants in which he works with his endevors into the Social Media vessel. He too has two cookbooks that he has written about Florida’s unique cookery heritage. The First delves into “Life by the Sea” and the second continues on where the first one stopped. Both are based upon his one true love – Food and Cooking.

These two Fort Lauderdale chefs and distinctly known culinary names like; Norman Van Aken, Allen Susser, Michelle Bernstein and new to the chef – author roster, Michael Schwartz have all found out how important being able to deploy information on various Social Media outlets like; Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and writing/producing their own cookbooks has been to boost their élan and craft. Most of these South Florida chefs have their books available at Amazon dot com.

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