Food News

Miami's Culinary Community Mourns Chef Alfredo Alvarez

Chef Alfredo Alvarez
Chef Alfredo Alvarez Bill Wisser Photo
click to enlarge Chef Alfredo Alvarez - BILL WISSER PHOTO
Chef Alfredo Alvarez
Bill Wisser Photo
The Miami culinary community has been saddened to learn that chef Alfredo Alvarez has died.

Details have not been confirmed, but according to publicist Terry Zarikian, a close friend of the chef's, Alvarez went to sleep Wednesday evening and didn't wake up the next morning. He would have turned 58 February 18.

Alvarez's love of cooking led the Venezuela native around the world. He trained at the École Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland before interning with some of Italy's best chefs, including Gianfranco Vissani.

Alvarez went on to work at restaurants in Philadelphia, Rome, New York, Cancun, and even Disney's Epcot. The chef also cooked for a long list of notables, such as Robert De Niro, Antonio Banderas, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Michael Douglas, and President Bill Clinton. Alvarez was ranked 17th on a list of top chefs in the United States by the National Chefs Association in Washington, D.C.

In Miami, Alvarez is best known for opening Seasalt & Pepper (now Seaspice) and made news when he, along with his sous- and pastry chefs, walked out because of "quality standards he [did] not want to be associated with," among other reasons.

In January 2015, Alvarez and his wife, Tara Nicosia, opened Biscayne Diner, serving upscale renditions of traditional diner fare. After closing the diner in September that year, Alvarez helmed a cadre of substantial kitchens in the area, including Palmeiras Beach Club at Grove Isle, which was named Best Waterfront Restaurant in 2016 by New Times.

The Miami culinary community is taking to social media to pay their respects. NBC Telemundo culinary personality Kiko Suarez posted on Facebook: "The world lost an amazing human being and chef @alfredoalvarez18 R.I.P my friend you will be truly missed. #amazingchef #evenbetterhuman #sosadtoday."

Social media site Miami Chef posted a short tribute video:

In a message to New Times, Zarikian described a meal cooked for him in 1997 by Alvarez when he helmed the kitchen at Giacosa in Coral Gables. "Alfredo prepared a fantastic tasting menu, with grilled porcini mushrooms, tomato salad with tomatoes from Venezuela, house-made fettuccine with butter and lots of shaved white truffles, then a rack of lamb and perfectly baked bass."

Most recently, the chef was working to revive the beloved Giacosa by opening M House by Giacosa in Coral Gables.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss