When it was announced that Paula Da Silva, chef at farm-to-table restaurant 1500 Degrees inside the historic Eden Roc Miami Beach would move to Fort Lauderdale's
DaSilva returned to Broward County, the place where she began her well-publicized career under chef Dean Max way back in 2000. In July it was announced that Max and 3030 would part ways.
While many know DaSilva as the runner up in season five of Hell's Kitchen she didn't let up after appearing on the show in 2009 and earned widespread praise for her thoughtful preparation of locally sourced produce and proteins.
Marriott, which owns the Harbor Beach Marriott, is keeping her on board and we caught up with DaSilva to talk about the transition and her 954 homecoming.
What have you been up to since it was announced you'd return to 3030 Ocean?
I went back a couple of weeks and took some more time off. I had a few trips planned before all that happened. It's bittersweet having to leave 1500 under the circumstances, but it's also a great opportunity to go back to 3030 where I started and sort of watch what it's going to evolve into as we work on a new concept for the restaurant. Right now we're in the process of undergoing menu changes and retraining staff.
See also: Dean James Max Leaves 3030 Ocean
What's the new concept going to look like?
3030 is going to be about 14 years old next year. It's time for a face lift and something new. 3030 spent so much time being fine dining. We still have tablecloth and I really want this to be more of a place that locals will drive to. We had a huge local following for many many years. I want it to be sort of upbeat, sharing style, communal style, with really good cocktails and a more relaxed, high energy atmosphere. Of course well stick to seasonal and sourcing locally and supporting farmers I've worked with closely but I really do like the small sharing style of eating, smaller plates, I don't want to call it tapas but that style. Somewhere between Spanish [tapas] and a gastropub.
How did it end up that you would stay with Marriott?
When this whole thing played out the company had an interest in keeping me on board as we were working on different projects. In order to keep me in the company this was the closest and fastest option and also came with the idea that they wanted to reconcept [3030 Ocean].
At 1500 you emphasized local sourcing, but today it seems like every restaurant is doing the same, do you think it's become too much in a marketing sense?
I agree when we opened up 1500 that was sort of our slogan and all that and it does wear off. But it's true, as a chef you're sort of naturally inclined to want to support your local farmer and do things that are seasonal. I personally like to give credit to the farmers and ranchers. I don't think it's too much because I'm truly honoring that product I'm using and I'm proud to be using it. I don't do it just to show that I'm using these things, I think it's giving them credit for the products they've grown or raised and why shouldn't I give them some props
Now that you're back in Fort Lauderdale after some time away what are your thoughts on the dining scene?
I think that at the end of the day people want good restaurants, good food where they can kick back and not have to worry about being hit with a $200 tab per person. It's getting there. I spent three years in Miami and at the end of those 3 years you've seen a handful of places come and go. Fort Lauderdale seems to be a little bit slower, and I'm not sure why restaurants and chefs steer away from it. It needs a mixture of the combination of places that are doing great food and good drinks but closer to the beach.
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For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.