A Miami Chef Timeline (1986-2008)

Categories: Obscurity
Thumbnail image for cheff allen susser.jpg
Chef Allen helped launch the modern Miami dining scene in 1986
The closing of Chef Allen's last week represented the end of an important chapter in Miami restaurant history. There was a time in the mid-'90s when the main restaurant debate at gatherings focused on whether Allen Susser, Mark Militello, or Norman Van Aken was the best chef. Then the banter would shift to which guy ran the better restaurant. But in fact, there were a handful of other equally important, pioneering Miami chefs, most of whom are still around today.

The following timeline should give an idea of when some of our familiar veteran chefs first came upon the stage -- and when (if) they opened a place of their own.

1986: Allen Susser opens Chef Allen's in Aventura.
1986: Dewey LoSasso gains notice as chef of The Foundlings Club in Miami Beach.
1988: Mark Militello opens Mark's Place in North Miami Beach.
1989: Doug Rodriguez sparks Nuevo Latino cuisine at YUCA in Coral Gables.
1989: Pascal Oudin turns heads as chef of The Colonnade in Coral Gables.
1991: Norman Van Aken comes to Miami at a Mano in the Betsy Ross Hotel on Ocean Drive.
1992: Kerry Simon opens Blue Star at the newly renovated Raleigh Hotel on South Beach.
1993: Jonathan Eismann brings Pacific Time to a still-undeveloped Lincoln Road.
1994: Robbin Haas makes the new Colony Bistro on Ocean Drive the hottest spot in town.
1994: Jan Jorgensen's Two Chefs debuts in South Miami. It is still there.
1994: Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley open Norman's on the Beach on Lincoln Road, the precursor to Ortanique on the Mile.
1994: Michael Schwartz co-launches Nemo in South Beach.
1994: Kerry Simon opens Max's South Beach with Dennis Max.
1995: Norman Van Aken opens his first establishment, Norman's Restaurant, in Coral Gables.
1995: Kris Wessel is an opening partner in Paninoteca on Lincoln Road.
1997: Michelle Bernstein gets some attention at Red Fish Grill in Matheson Hammock.
1998: Robbin Haas commands Red Square in South Beach.
1999: Philippe Ruiz becomes chef de cuisine at Palme d'Or in the Biltmore Hotel. He is still there.
1999: Kris Wessel opens Liaison on Española Way in South Beach.
1999: Cindy Hutson opens Ortanique on the Mile in Coral Gables.
2000: Pascal Oudin opens his own Pascal's On Ponce in Coral Gables.
2000: Michelle Bernstein gets lots more attention at Azul in the Mandarin Oriental.
2003: Tim Andriola debuts Timo in Sunny Isles Beach.
2003: Andrea Curto-Randazzo and Frank Randazzo dazzle with Talula on South Beach.
2004: Dewey LoSasso opens North One 10 as a pioneer on the Biscayne Corridor.
2005: Michelle Bernstein opens Michy's as a pioneer of the MiMo neighborhood.
2007: Michael Schwartz opens Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.
2008: Kris Wessel opens Red Light on the Little River in MiMo.

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Boracay Island
Boracay Island

Astor Hotel Miami Beach is a clean and beautiful hotel. We spend vacation there and they friendly and nice accommodation..

Lesley Abravanel
Lesley Abravanel

Good stuff! Such mem'ries. How bout Kerry Simon's Starfish in the space now known as Barton G.?


Finally..Lee Klein, its about time you wrote something that we care about and is good for our community. Unless you are able to continue doing pieces like this, New Times needs to find someone different to spearhead the food reviews. I hope your editor can see the difference of real journalism and that other stuff you usually put out.


This is great, thanks for putting it together. A few more things I might add:

1987: Douglas Rodriguez is the chef at Wet Paint Café on Lincoln Road.1995: Pascal Oudin recognized by Food & Wine as a "Best New Chef" while at Grand Café in Coconut Grove.1995: Johnny Vinczencz opens Johnny V at the Astor in South Beach (though I still think of Johnny V as more of a Broward guy).1999: Michelle Bernstein gets some more attention at The Strand in South Beach.2000: Andrea Curto recognized as a F&W "Best New Chef" while at Wish in South Beach.

This brings back lots of great memories: Doug Rodriguez's guava-BBQ ribs at Yuca, Norman Van Aken's "Down Island" french toast w foie gras, Kerry Simon's fantastic meatloaf at Max's South Beach, the whole fried yellowtail with hot & sour vegetables at the original Pacific Time, for just a few.

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