New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's Culinary All-Stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city its own unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
Back in the 1980s, when Lincoln Road wasn't filled with the Gap and Urban Outfitters, a young chef impressed the "ladies who lunch" at the members-only Foundlings Club. Dewey LoSasso used his kitchen at the private club as a proving ground for dishes that combined global flavors with local, organic ingredients. Word quickly spread about the New Jersey-bred chef and his culinary prowess, and he became one of the most formidable talents in the growing Miami culinary scene. It was an exciting time. A group of chefs, known as the Mango Gang, was creating cuisine unique to South Florida using local ingredients. People were taking notice of the talented chefs making names for themselves in South Florida.
LoSasso continued his upward trajectory as opening executive chef at Tuscan Steak, private chef to Donatella Versace, and executive chef at the then-called Lipton Tennis Tournament before opening his own restaurant, North One 10 in 2004. He then landed one of the most coveted gigs. In 2009, Miami Beach landmark, The Forge, was poised for a brilliant return after an extensive renovation and tapped LoSasso for the executive chef role. The restaurant regained its glory and then some with LoSasso at the helm. Now, LoSasso is again making headlines with his executive chef tenure at AQ by Acqualina, the five-star resort and spa in Sunny Isles. There, the chef continues to source fresh, local ingredients to create cuisine that is classic and whimsical at the same time.
LoSasso, born into an Italian family, started flipping pizzas before he was out of elementary school. His family, you see, had an entire restaurant quality kitchen in their basement, and Dewey already had ambitions of being a professional chef. By the time he was in High School, LoSasso worked in New Jersey restaurants, sometimes taking prep work home with him so he would have more quality time with the chefs when on duty.
In His Own Words
"As a Jersey boy, I moved to South Florida pretty early in my career as a chef. I love everything Florida as a whole has to offer. It's the joy of living in a Carl Hiaasen novel.
"I try to project that sense of fun into my food and hope that people can relate to it. I've seen the scene change so much in the time that I've been here, all for the positive. I've always cooked with local produce but it's great to see our farming and fishing industries getting the recognition they deserve. Now that I am cooking pretty much directly on the ocean at AQ by Acqualina, it's amazing. It's hard to imagine living and working anywhere else."
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Get your voice heard by voting in our Readers' Choice poll. Visit readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com by June 4. Then, check out the 27th annual Best of Miami issue, available online and in print on Thursday, June 19 to see if your favorites won.