Alessi in the kitchen at 27 Restaurant.
Alessi in the kitchen at 27 Restaurant.
Image courtesy 27 Restaurant & Bar

Miami Beach Cook Andrew Alessi Found Dead in His Apartment

Andrew Alessi, a promising young cook in the kitchen of the popular 27 Restaurant & Bar in Miami Beach, has died.

The cause of death was unclear, and Miami Beach Police couldn't immediately provide information Monday night. Alessi, 30, was last scheduled to work Sunday brunch at the popular restaurant. When he didn't show up, colleagues began calling him, without success. They later found Alessi unresponsive in his apartment, Broken Shaker and 27 cofounder Gabriel Orta said.

Alessi was hired as a line cook at 27 about a year and a half ago. Though he seemed at risk of falling victim to the consequences of the hard-driving life many cooks are known to live, he had turned everything around in the past six months, was promoted to sous and was in line for a raise.

"We talked about stepping it up, and he did. He was a great guy, a tireless worker, and a star in the kitchen," Orta said.

"He was hardworking, kind, quick-witted, and the best fish butcher this kitchen has ever seen," the restaurant wrote in an Instagram post showing Alessi flashing a wide grin while standing behind the pass.

This is the second death in a week of a well-known hospitality worker after John Lermayer, who was celebrated for bringing forward-thinking cocktails to Miami and being a loving godfather of bar folk across the city, was found dead in his Miami Beach apartment June 6. He was 45.

At the same time the global culinary community was gutted late last week after learning that Anthony Bourdain killed himself in a hotel in France where he was shooting an upcoming episode of his hit CNN show Parts Unknown. Bourdain was 61 and left behind nearly two decades' worth of work that rightly glorified the once-overlooked lives of grunt cooks and the deep, delicious culinary traditions of far-flung lands. More important, he left behind a young daughter.

Alessi's passing is another tragedy layered atop an emotionally numbing week that also saw the death of designer Kate Spade. These events are (one would hope) forcing the industry to begin reckoning with a problem it has long known about, begun to discuss, but not faced in the way it truly needs to be.

"This is a wake-up call for operators. We have to find a way to support those people that need it," Orta said. How to do so remains a challenge, particularly for operators such as Orta and partner Elad Zvi, who parlayed a Miami  Beach bar pop-up into a budding hospitality empire with hundreds of employees in outposts in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

"These workers put in so many hours and they want to have a drink, and a drink turns into two, and then it’s a couple bumps here, a couple bumps there," he said. "Forget the drugs — it’s the lifestyle. You put in 15 hours, and then you’re back at work in four hours. You can only do that for so long.

"When you work together that much, you become a family, and the question is, how do we support our work family?" he added.

If you work in the hospitality industry and are struggling with any issues, visit chefswithissues.com/resources.

You can contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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