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Dean James Max

South Florida Favorite Local Spots

    Dean James Max
Executive Chef 3030 Ocean ; President of DJM Culinary, Inc.

TravelsinTaste.com recently had the opportunity to chat with its South Florida seafood expert, Executive Chef Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean, at his Fort Lauderdale restaurant in the beautiful beachfront Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. Because he's lived in Florence, worked with French chefs and grown up on a Virginia farm, Chef Max is perfectly suited to his superior Modern American seafood creations. An award-winning chef, he's president of DJM Culinary Inc., which specializes in restaurant development and management. In the past four years alone he's launched Latitude 41 in Columbus, Ohio; Brasserie in the Cayman Islands; AMP 150 in Cleveland, Ohio; taken over the culinary reign at Cheeca Lodge & Club in the Florida Keys, and released his first cookbook, A Life by the Sea with a second cookbook about the history of 3030 Ocean to be released this November. All this as the restaurant nears its tenth anniversary in December. Chef Max also has cooked at the James Beard House -- he was nominated for Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation in both 2009 and 2010 -- and once led a culinary cruise to French Polynesia aboard Paul Gauguin Cruises, hosting a fish market shopping experience, delivering onboard lectures and performing live cooking demonstrations, all of which helped him assuage guests' fears about fish preparation while educating them on sustainable seafood. Most recently, he's been named the "King of American Seafood" at the 2010 Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans. Having had many lovely seafood meals in South Florida restaurants, we've been dying to know: Which local restaurants prepare old-fashioned seafood? Where are the little-known neighborhood gems that provide such a satisfying experience that even chefs will go there to eat on their days off? What's a classic seafood dish we can cook at home that's reminiscent of our favorite South Florida spots? Because he's one of South Florida's most revered seafood experts -- famous across the region for his authentic ocean flavors -- we asked Chef Max for his recommendations. Lucky for us, he was happy to oblige.

Indeed, Chef Max gave us the inside scoop on his three favorite local spots: Southport Raw Bar, Whale's Rib and Valentino.

TravelsinTaste.com: Where's your favorite place to eat on your day off?
Max: I love to keep it simple on days off with places like Southport and the Whale's Rib. They remind me of old-school restaurants I used to hang out at when I was younger because they serve simple but house-made fish dip, fresh Cape Canaveral rock shrimp, Key West pink shrimp, simple grouper and hog fish dishes -- nothing fancy -- with a cold beer.

TravelsinTaste.com: What do you order at Whale's Rib and what should we order if we want a true taste of local Florida seafood?
Max: Whale's Rib is near my house; it's where I go for rock shrimp, which is one of the only old-style seafood joints that serves real fresh rock shrimp from Cape Canaveral. If you are looking for more upscale, I like Valentino for his take on modern Italian.

Chef Max's first pick, the Southport Raw Bar -- a raw bar with dock slips -- is rich in history. Originally owned by a man named Ted Twist, who had a history of his own, the bar was purchased in the 1970s by two New Yorkers anxious to try their hands at the restaurant business. Rumor has it that Johnny Weismuller of Tarzan fame made this a regular haunt when he lived on Las Olas. Supposedly, after a few beers he would show off his famous Tarzan call. In the late 1980s, the two New Yorkers sold their shares to their three managers, who still own the restaurant today. Because they have more than 100 years of restaurant experience between them, this place is sure to live on for yet another generation.

Southport Raw Bar
1536 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-2125
(954) 525-2526

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