Chef Carlos Jorge, who gained fame for his tropical-inspired menu at Solu in The Resort on Singer Island in 2006, has taken over as executive chef at the W Hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach, where Steak 954 is the signature restaurant. We chatted with him for the Verbal Nosh, and here's an excerpt.
New Times: When did you take over room service and catering at W, and where were you before this?
Carlos Jorge: I got here the last week in August and came from the St. Regis in Princeville, Kauai. I had been there since May of 2009. I opened it after they rebranded it to Starwood's luxury collection.
What's life like on an island in the Pacific?
The island life is for a certain type of individual. Kauai is like
heaven on earth - they don't call it the garden island for nothing. It's
very rural, and if you're a nature buff, you're in heaven there.
So you're not that into waterfalls and kayaking?
It's beautiful, don't get me wrong, but you couldn't detach yourself from work. No matter where you went on the island, you'd find yourself running into people you work with. It was a little too quiet. It was apparent, after four months there, it wasn't the lifestyle for me, especially having lived in South Florida.
Is this hotel going to present any challenges for you, having overseen a big resort already?
I hit the ground running, and am now getting up to speed with the rest of the hotel food.
What do you plan to do with the menus?
I'd definitely like to brighten up the offerings on the seafood side of the menu. Seafood is near and dear to my heart.
How do you expect to do that?
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We can stand to brighten the flavors and definitely on the seafood here. We'll be using a lot more of the local seafood. What people want when they come to South Florida, they think of mahi-mahi and yellowtail and grouper, so I think what my objective will be is to gradually build up the seafood level.
Tomorrow: Part 2 of our interview with Chef Carlos Jorge.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story quoted Chef Carlos Jorge as saying he's in charge of the menu at Steak 954. He is not.