What Happens at Chef's Club Stays at Chef's Club

Chef's Club, an informal gathering of some of Miami's hottest talent, has been meeting about every other month since about 2006. This invitation-only gathering of chefs and industry-insiders has a pretty simple goal -- to build and nurture a sense of community among South Florida restaurant professionals.

PR guru Larry Carrino co-founded Chef's Club with chef Adam Votaw, who was then with Chispa in Coral Gables. Votaw, a client of Carrino's, noticed a lack of friendship and camaraderie in Miami, something he said he missed from his days in Paris and New York. Hence, Chef's club was born. Votaw has since moved out west, but the gathering lives on.

The faces and the menus change, but the structure remains the same.

Chefs take turns "hosting" at their restaurant. Whole Foods

Market underwrites the food portion, giving the host chef a gift card to

fund the meal. Each chef shows up with an appetite...and a bottle that

goes into the "drink kitty". Sometimes the meals are sit down affairs.

Sometimes they're buffet-style. There was a clam bake. A costume party. A cocktail

smack-down. Chefs rotate in and out of the club.

The recent gathering at Crave in Coral Gables was hosted by executive chef Josh Wahler and included Kurtis Jantz (Bella Beach Club at Trump International Beach Resort);

Matt Livers (The Capital Grille);

Michael Jacobs (Strategic Hospitality Group and Miami Heat);

Tom Azar (formerly of City Hall);

Sean Bernal (The Delano);

Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak and Bar); Josh Becker (Gotham Steak); and

Russell Karath (Gotham Steak and Hakkasan).


there were stories of vacation getaways, pictures of babies, and even

an Elvis story thrown into the mix. But the main topic of conversation is...was....will always be....food. Specifically:

Where to get the best dim sum in Miami (Tropical Chinese and Chef Philip Ho);

what state has the best bagels (New Jersey -- even over New York),

where can you get good freshly-baked bread in Miami (maybe La Provence..but boy would someone make a killing if they opened a really great bakery in Miami); and if Brother Jimmy's Barbeque is really giving away free booze (not since they got their liquor license late last week).

There was some industry gossip, too. But, you know the first rule: what happens at Chef's Club stays at Chef's Club.

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