Dean Max of 3030 Ocean and Paula DaSilva of 1500 Degrees at Eden Roc: Talking Shop

As a food nerd, I like to research how celebrity chefs train cooks up the line and out the door to open their own places that complement and enrich the dining scene in cities around the country.

Take Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio, the high-end steak-house restaurateur and the chef whose success (along with his brother) has led to a months' long reservation wait list in Maryland, cookbook deals, and multiple projects. Another example is the relationship between Jose Andres and L.A.'s Michael Voltaggio or D.C.'s Mike Isabella, who is in the process of opening a taco joint and a Greek restaurant as he mans his first solo gig, Graffiato, and pens a cookbook. 

Such is the case here in South Florida with the subject of this week's review, chef Dean Max of 3030 Ocean and

Paula DaSilva of 1500 Degrees at Eden Roc. The Hell's Kitchen alum and Max acolyte who worked in his kitchen for nearly ten years has become a luminary of the Miami dining scene, with her restaurant recently named the only one in South Florida among Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2011

Following my review at 3030 Ocean and a five-course, early-fall farm-to-table dinner at 1500 Degrees last week, I interviewed them both to find out how each influences the other and how their styles diverge. 

"After ten years of working together, you start thinking the same when it comes to cooking," said Max. "This is what's happening in my kitchen now, with [chef de cuisine] Jeremy Ford. He came in with an amazing background in French cooking. In my kitchen, we reference the techniques he learned, but we're doing things differently from what he was used to. We're going in a whole different direction." 

DaSilva said the most significant takeaway from her time working with Max at 3030 Ocean is the emphasis on simplicity. "I take a more rustic approach here," she said, "but I learned from him to keep the product as close to its original and as simple as it came. I really emphasize that simplicity of food, as he does, regardless of whether we're talking about his Florida restaurant or the ones in Cleveland or Dallas."

She said her cooking at 1500 Degrees is "less detailed and precise" than plates coming out of the kitchen at 3030 Ocean. "I see a lot of what she learned at 3030 in the processes and techniques she's using at 1500 Degrees if not on the plate, [then] in the presentation," said Max. "It's something a diner may not see without an explanation, but as a chef -- the chef she worked with for ten years -- it's very clear to me."

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart