Best of Broward / Palm Beach

The Ten Best Chefs in Broward County 2016

Broward County is known for many things: beautiful beaches, spring break, megayachts, the largest per-capita gay community in the nation — the list goes on and on.

Having a world-renowned culinary scene, however, is not on the register. 

But things are changing. This year was the first to mark the expansion of the famous South Beach Wine & Food Festival into Broward County, a nod to the growing pool of talent in these parts.

Sure, Broward might not have any Michelin-starred establishments, but what this South Florida county lacks in accolades, it makes up for with a variety of creative concepts helmed by topnotch chefs. And these talented toques deserve some credit.

In honor of this county’s kitchen greats, New Times brings you the best chefs in Broward.

10. Philip Darmon 
Executive chef/owner at Hardy Park Bistro
Hardy Park Bistro's chef-owner Philip Darmon, an Australia native, has charted a unique course through the culinary world, guided in no small part by coincidence and fate. While working as a chef in high-end Sydney restaurants, he lost a close friend to suicide. The traumatic event led Darmon to question the meaning of life, so when a friend — and yacht captain — offered him a job cooking on a boat, he wasted no time packing up his knives to cook in the galley of a yacht moored in Saint Thomas. After meeting his wife, Jessica, the duo planned on opening a restaurant of their own. And they did just that: On November 2013, the couple opened Hardy Park Bistro, a quaint eatery in Fort Lauderdale serving upscale food in a casual neighborhood environment. Though Darmon has an affinity for the Mediterranean and its cuisine thanks to his travels throughout the region, his food also reflects a rich Southeast Asian influence because of the area's proximity to Australia. Today, the restaurant — open for lunch, Sunday brunch, and dinner — is best known for Darmon's seasonally rotating menu.

9. Kevin Dreifuss
Executive chef/owner at Ends Meat
For Ends Meat chef-owner Kevin Dreifuss, making ends meet has an especially poignant meaning. A good portion of his professional culinary career has been spent working day and night to support himself and, more recently, his growing family. When he purchased the Ends Meat domain name in 2009, it seemed fitting. It would be four years before the chef found a vacant space in downtown Hollywood to build his first restaurant and another year of renovations before he would unveil Ends Meat. Today, the modern American eatery is earning rave reviews with locals and foodies alike, drawing crowds for a taste of his creative, quirky dishes — especially his handmade mahi fish sausages, his reuben egg rolls, and the Mitch HedBurger.

8. Lauren DeShields
Executive chef at Market 17
One of the leading ladies of the Fort Lauderdale culinary scene, this Florida native churns out an always-changing menu full of as many local products as she can get her hands on. From grilled, locally caught grouper with crispy mofongo cakes, farm zucchini, sautéed kale, pickled pearl onions, and chimichurri sauce to pan-roasted pork tenderloin with brown butter corn bread, mustard greens, broccolini, rutabaga, rainbow carrots, and mustard demi, DeShields focuses on sourcing the highest quality ingredients possible and treating them with the utmost respect. She's also got a killer charcuterie program, all made in-house. It's details like these that earned her a spot on our 2013 "Tastemakers" list.  

7. Gavin Pera
Executive chef at Burlock Coast
At just 33, Pera is at the helm of your experience at Burlock Coast, the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale. With a career that's spanned 15 years and several luxury hotels, he has just one goal in mind: Let nature create the menu. While the concept of using local purveyors and artisans to spotlight the abundance of South Florida-sourced fare is not new, Pera has a way of making you believe in it all over again. To say Pera relies heavily on the bounty of local farmers and fishermen is an understatement; he might as well be married to the menagerie of purveyors he works with daily. Right now he's partnered with several from across the state, relationships he's cultivated over the years as tenderly as the Little Pond Farm owner who delivers his heirloom tomatoes cares for his crop. The concept even crosses into the restaurant's carefully curated marketplace, where guests and visitors can find the chef's picks for items like bread made by revered Miami baker Zak Stern (AKA Zak the Baker), a hot cup of Panther Coffee, and charcuterie from Dade-based Miami Smokers.

6. Louie Bossi
Executive chef/co-owner at Louie Bossi's Pizzeria & Ristorante
Self-taught chef Louie Bossi is the man behind the boisterous Italian restaurant of the same name that opened in downtown Fort Lauderdale late last year. Not a native Floridian, Bossi grew up in the Astoria section of Queens in the 1970s, moving to New Jersey when he was 10. A year later, Bossi was offered his first job at the local pizzeria, a move that would later lead to one of his most successful menu items to date. From there, Bossi spent more than 15 years with the Big Time Restaurant Group — the company behind Rocco's Tacos and City Cellar — earning his street cred. His dream, however, was always to have his own restaurant. After telling the partners at Big Time for years that they needed an Italian restaurant in their stable, Bossi started his own, taking inspiration from Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti (who partners Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Bastianich brought to New York City and Chicago). Nearly everything is made in-house, and the Fort Lauderdale food scene is all the better for it. The journey from pizza-maker to restaurateur has been a good one for this self-made chef.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna