Behind the Line at Chef Allen's

Categories: Behind the Line
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Chef Allen Susser of Chef Allen's restaurant is a culinary pioneer, a renowned restaurateur and a cool dude. I recently spent several hours in the kitchen of Chef Allen's restaurant in Aventura. I arrived at four, was provided with a chef jacket and promptly put to work. This was a kitchen where I'd be embedded as a worker and as a photgrapher. Chef Allen's runs a reality cooking class that puts you behind the line learning top chef tricks to last you a life time.
"That's what cooking is all about, that's what this class is all about, not so you can learn recipes and forget them, this is a techniques class," Says Chef Allen.

So I peeled and chopped potatoes, sliced onions, broke eggs, mixed stuff up, and at the end of it we had fried latkes, and even if I never make em' again, at least now I know how to peel a potato.

Chef Allen says, "We're proud of what we do here. We want teach you things you can take home for a lifetime, the techniques, culture, how to get in and cook with passion, heart, your fingers and your palette."

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Daniel Serfer, chef de cuisine at Chef Allen's basically started his career as a reality cooking class student. "I grew up eating here, this was my parents' favorite restaurant, so it's cool that now I'm in charge of the whole kitchen. Chef's a great guy. He gave me an opportunity when I didn't know anything and as I learned, he kept giving me opportunities. We're not your grandma's Chef Allen's, we're younger and more hip now, four years ago we never would have served a hamburger here."

And the kitchen of Chef Allen's does have a great youthful energy to it. The staff is almost entirely composed of Le Cordon Bleu graduates, and for almost the first time ever, at least the first time in a long time, there's a female on the hot line.

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There's also Garde Manger Lindsay Richman (pictured above), who used to work in advertising, but then quit to pursue her culinary dreams. She says, "I love to cook, I love to eat, you only live once, and you never wanna look back and be like, oh I wish I would have tried that."

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Zach Shultz, the head line cook, spends all night in front of a wood burning grill. He says, "For taste, fire is by far the best, it's not the easiest to work with, but it's always the way I'd go, no gas. It gets real hot, bout 720 degrees."

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Danny "Beyonce" Jean and Sarah Magoon are the pastry chefs. They made me a vanilla and chocolate souffle, which I'd never had before, but always thought sounded cool. It was fuckin awesome and if there's ever been a dessert  whose name sounds like how it tastes, souffle is it.

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Henri Prudent does the fastest shrimp prep in the kitchen. He didn't really feel like talking, but he didn't seem to mind the camera much.

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I asked Chef Allen if his restaurant ever served frog legs and he said "We used to get frog legs from the Indians out there in the Everglades, they'd spear em', but they're doin' casinos now, not out poking frogs."

Find out all about Chef Allen's, including how to sign up for his reality cooking class, by clicking here.

And click here for our full behind-the-scenes slideshow.

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