The Coastal Star

Along the Avenues: Celebrity chefs find recipes for success in hotel restaurants

By Thom Smith
Let’s face it, chefs are sexy, the new rock stars. And for those who love TV dinners,
Top Chef is the ultimate. Culinary
gladiators square off with saucepans and skewers in a wild and tasty quest for
fortune and fame. The latest series is even more inviting to the local crowd
because one of the competitors has a local hook. Actually, several.


Just a few weeks ago, Kenny Gilbert became executive chef at PGA Resort & Spa, but he’s hardly a newcomer to these parts. Originally from the Cleveland
lakeshore suburb of Euclid, he brought his Southern-influenced international
style south more than a decade ago, exec cheffing at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club
& Spa
in Jupiter and then at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens
before running off to Telluride, Colo., for a few years.


The Ritz, of course, still likes to claim Kenny, and in fact, last winter at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach in Manalapan, he was a star at the annual Food for the
Poor
fundraiser. His chosen dish: bison.


Of course, the Palm Beach heavens are filled with culinary stars. Before he left for a big gig in Miami and more recently Kenya, Hubert DesMarais put The Four
Seasons
on the map, a reputation continued by Darryl Moiles. Daniel Boulud
makes frequent visits to his Café Boulud at The Brazilian Court in Palm Beach,
while its sister hotel, The Omphoy, boasts Michelle Bernstein.



Tales of two cities: Last month, Lake Worth Mayor Rene Varela complained of drunken spending and pledged
to cut $4.5 million from the city’s budget. Some of the oomph seems to be
leaving downtown. Latest to go is Miami Subs at the corner of Lake and Dixie,
and the raucous Ouzo Blue, open only a year and a half, shut down a few weeks
ago, as did its sibling in Palm Beach Gardens. A greater loss is L’Anjou, its
lace curtains drawn for good after more than three decades of French cuisine
and a lasting memory as a backdrop in Body
Heat
.


Not all the losses are culinary. Those with a taste for things old, really old, will have to shop elsewhere now that Yesterday’s Antique Mall has shuttered.
Mall owner Steve Gaffney said he was offered a new lease and higher rent, too.
It hasn’t helped, he said, that eBay has become such a big player in the
antique world.


Building owner Cimaglia Holdings LLC of Pompano Beach claims to have a new tenant, but has not said who it is.


So much for glum: Out on the beach, the city has asked REG Architects to design the renovation of the
beachfront casino. When the original building went up in 1922, gambling was
legal. A1A ran between the casino and the ocean and bathers took an underpass
to the beach. A1A is farther west now, well off the dune line, on filled land,
and the casinos are elsewhere, but architect Rick Gonzalez has done his best to
reclaim the original design with colonnaded archways, towers and tiled roof.


Gonzalez comes with impressive credentials. Projects include the Harriet Himmel Theater in CityPlace, the 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse restoration, the
International Polo Club in Wellington and the new ballroom at The Mar-a-Lago
Club
.


The city believes it can come up with the $6.5 million for the project. Hope so. In 1921, the city signed a contract for $99,500, but by the time the casino,
underpass and pier were done, the cost was $150,000.



While Lake Worth is smarting, down in Delray Beach, they’re playing it smart. According to the most recent count, says Marjorie Ferrer of the Downtown
Development Authority
, Delray has 102 restaurants in the downtown area, which
could keep a body busy for quite some time. Tastemakers of Delray may help ease
the load. It’s a two-day restaurant crawl (Aug. 13 and 14, 5-10 p.m.), with 24
of the town’s best offering menu tastings paired with wine, beer or cocktails.
Examples: Anticuchos (marinated skirt steak skewers) at
Cabana El Rey with a Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon, Thai
chicken in a traditional sweet red chili sauce paired with a Blackstone Pinot
Grigio at Ziree or chocolate mousse with a Marcel Martin sparkling wine at Café
de France
.


To crawl, however, you’ll need a passport: $25, available at the participating restaurants above and Sundy House, Tryst, The Blue Fish, 32 East, Olio, Linda
Bean’s Perfect Maine
, Il Bacio, Taste Gastropub, Brule Bistro, City Oyster
& Sushi Bar
, Cugini Grille, Johnnie Brown’s, Paddy McGee’s Irish Pub,
GOL! The Taste of Brazil, Crepes by the Sea, Cut 432, Lemongrass, J&J
Seafood
, Caffe Luna Rosa, Boheme Bistro and Boston’s on the Beach.


The passport also provides admission to after-parties and drink specials, plus special savings through Sept. 30 at participating restaurants. Proceeds benefit
the American Cancer Society. For more info, call the DDA at (561) 243-1077.



Carl DeSantis, who made billions with Rexall Sundown vitamins, wants to pump some new life into some properties he owns. DeSantis owns all of the land on the
north side of Atlantic Avenue from Northeast Sixth Avenue to Veterans Park
along the Intracoastal. It’s only 8.5 acres, but in Atlantic Plaza II, DeSantis
envisions a $325-million complex — 182,000 square feet of retail space, 106,000
square feet for offices and 197 residences.


To run the show, DeSantis’ CDS International Holdings has hired Bill Morris as vice president for development. Morris’ recent development credentials include
Delray’s 217-unit Worthing Place and the 255-unit Palmetto Place in Boca Raton.
This project may be his longest, with a phased-in five- to seven-year buildout.
An abandoned gas station at the corner of Atlantic and Fifth already is gone
and some other small buildings, including DeSantis’ former antique shop and art
gallery, won’t be far behind. The biggest chunk, Atlantic Plaza, also will be
razed, but DeSantis will see that all those tenants are relocated.


If you enjoy being green, drop by Crane’s BeachHouse in Delray Aug. 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. for the inaugural Green M&Ms Party. It’s a fundraiser for two of the greenest operations around:
the Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach and the
Everglades-protecting Arthur R. Marshall Foundation. Lots of tree-huggers and
swamp-sloggers — ah, the stories they can tell — plus a raffle, live music,
hors d’oeuvres and a free drink. Donation is $25. Inquiries and reservations to
garyschwei@aol.com.


Thom Smith is a freelance writer. He can be reached at thomsmith@ymail.com.

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