Chef Nelson Fernandez, a beloved chef who worked at some of Miami's finest restaurants, has died.
The 44-year-old chef died April 5. His family declined to discuss the details.
Fernandez was born in Bogotá and learned early on a love for the fruits and produce from his native Colombia. The chef, who made a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of learning about food, began his career in London. There, while in his twenties, Fernandez trained under several noteworthy chefs including Jamie Oliver.
Fernandez's career next took him to Canada, where he worked in several kitchens before landing the role of head chef at the since-closed Nyood Restaurant and Lounge in Toronto.
In 2014, Fernandez moved to Miami to head the kitchen at Byblos in South Beach. There, he created a menu inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean and the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa. Fernandez also continued pursuing his culinary studies, earning the title of Certified Executive Chef from the American Culinary Federation and serving as assistant dean of the since-shuttered Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Miami.
Amid the pandemic, Fernandez opened Tur Kitchen, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Coral Gables. The chef parted ways with the restaurant and, before his death, created several tasting meals for Chèvre, a cheese shop and restaurant that will open soon in Miami.
His sister, Angela Fernandez, recalls his passion for the culinary arts. "Nelson put all his heart into everything he did," she says. "His goal was to get to the very top of the culinary world. He wanted to earn a Michelin star and he worked very hard to achieve his dream."
She describes her brother as a beloved family man who loved his daughter, 25, who lives in Colombia, and his niece. "My daughter loved him so much. It's very hard." Fernandez, according to his sister, also cared deeply for his employees and colleagues. "He was very demanding, but a good boss. He supported his people and was very fair. In return, people loved and respected him."
She believes he will best be remembered for his love of food and his passion to share his talents with the world.
"Nelson tried to delight everyone with his food," she says. "That was his life. When he was cooking, he was happy. He was in another world."
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