25. Chrissy Benoit of the Little House Boynton Beach
New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous Tastemakers are listed at the end of the post.
If you had a chance to read our recent top ten list of inexpensive restaurants in Palm Beach County, you know The Little House in Boynton Beach is one of our top picks in the area. Also known as the Ruth James Cottage, the establishment's owner worked with the City Redevelopment Agency to renovate the 1930's, 800-square-foot historic home into a cozy eatery, relocating it a few miles away from its original location to 480 E. Ocean Ave.
Today, The Little House is known for it's home-cooked comfort food brought to us by Chrissy Benoit, former chef-owner of Havana Hideout in Lake Worth, who has already tasted success serving hungry customers in South Florida. Benoit, who was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for Havana, is warming our hearts with another menu: an approachable list of affordable dishes meant to celebrate Old South Florida.
The most influential person in my career has been:
Wolfgang Puck, it's when I realized I was totally hooked on this hospitality thing, my first opportunity to be part of something creative, edgy and fun! Travel, media, oscars, famous folks...so inspiring!
When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk. Still great quality, textures, thick decadent frozen cream! Easy to get my hands on! I can sit, and feel each sugary frozen bite melt in my mouth...and relax, I feel naughty!
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
Good educated service. The food has gotten ahead of the skill sets of the staff. It's costly to train staff and find people who genuinely want to put others needs ahead of their own, which is the true definition of hospitality. Passionate staff is the voice of the food. You can have talented people busting their behinds with food and prep, but if the staff could care less or has no idea what they are doing back there, it is a tragic waste. When was the last time you read a review that truly included guest service, as more than an after thought?
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
Tough warrior looking chefs, all the posturing. Food should be fun and fulfilling not a roman ritual where someone or something gets it butt kicked! If I see one more show promo where chefs stand back to back with a tough ass look, I'm going to lose my mind...
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
The name is "Sustain." The concept is 100% sustainable, and progressive with delicious yet nourishing food. Food in all groups, that has been well fed (plants as well as animals) so it feeds you well. I would build a beautiful vertical garden guests could enjoy which would also supply the restaurant and set a great example for the community. I would compost the green matter, I would utilize the gray water. I would give my guests nutrient rich soil as a take home gift. That was created by them patronizing the restaurant. I would set an example of amazing food, nutrient dense ingredients and sustainability. The flavors would be intense and the food creative as well as progressive.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully out of debt from my last opening. As well as enjoying more personal balance that will allow me to be creative and happy. I love helping people, so I hope to continue to be invited into people's experiences to offer what I can in their journey. That is something I always enjoy.
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
Mark Twain, Julia Child Elinor Fettiplace, Bill Bryson, David Sadaris, my Dad, Marvin Benoit.
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