Cindy Hutson started her professional cooking career in 1994 when she and her partner Delius Shirley opened Norma's On The Beach. They named the place after his mother, Norma Shirley, a famous chef who Food & Wine once called the "Julia Child of the Caribbean."
Cindy says "Our first restaurant, Norma's, we took over the Lazy Lizard on Lincoln Road in 94' and completely gutted the place. About a month before we opened Delius said 'well, you better write the menu.' I said 'what?!' I'd never worked in a restaurant in my life. I thought his mom was cooking.
I didn't wanna waste no money on knives and aprons. I used to be in the kitchen in flip flops and a sundress. The first six months I cried every night, 'I can't do this, I wanna go home.' Well, when the first review came out it was top of the line everything, they loved it, and that was the New York Times. That's when I said 'I can do this.' Then the articles kept coming out, so I finally bought some knives and an apron, but I didn't wanna buy anything if I wasn't gonna make it.
We named it Norma's because she was famous and nobody knew who I was, everybody thought she was the one cooking, but once it was established that I knew what I was doing you better believe I let everybody know it was me in the kitchen."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Norma's closed in 1999, the same year Ortanique on the Mile opened. Here are some pictures from the kitchen.