Best Chefs Miami 2011 - Jan Jorgensen and Kris Wessel
8287 S. Dixie Highway
South Miami, FL 33143
Readers' Choice: Michelle Bernstein
Qualifications for this annual lifetime achievement type of award include talent, passion, creativity, and most important, a track record of having produced fantastic food for a long time. Past winners are Norman Van Aken, Mark Militello, Allen Susser, Pascal Oudin, Philippe Ruiz, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz, Doug Rodriguez, Cindy Hutson, Jonathan Eismann, and Dewey LoSasso. This year's inductees have been working their culinary magic for as long as anyone. Kris Wessel worked under Militello in the mid-'90s, and in 1999 opened his own Liaison restaurant to critical and popular acclaim. Alas, it was conceptually ahead of its time and physically behind construction barricades. Almost a decade later, the James Beard-nominated chef returned and hit big with Red Light Little River. It took awhile, but the public has caught up with Wessel's simple, home-style, regional American fare. Jorgensen found success with South Miami diners almost immediately upon opening his Two Chefs restaurant in 1994 — and it is still going strong. Although he comes from a stricter European culinary background than Wessel, Jorgensen shares a cooking style that comes down to using fresh ingredients and doing the basics right: no frills, no hype, no tricks up their sleeves — just food that is undeniably good.