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THE CHEF > Biography

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CHEF ALLEN: Proprietor of Chef Allen's Restaurant

The opening of CHEF ALLEN'S restaurant in 1986 became the pinnacle in a journey of fascination, talent and vision for Chef Allen Susser.

Allen Susser was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 25, 1956 into a family heritage rich with celebrating life through food. Among his fondest memories as a child was the discovery of the cultural importance placed on food. "Those years," he has said "gave me the balance; and my deep respect for food." The impact was so deeply interesting, that he resolved early to his career goal in the Culinary Arts.

He graduated in 1976 at the top of his class from the New York City Technical College, Restaurant Management School. He received his Bachelors Degree in Hospitality, from Florida International University in 1978 (School of Hospitality Management, graduate with honors). He is also the recipient of the Ward Arbury Award and Alumni of the Year in 1993.

In the years directly following school, he pursued classical cooking techniques from opportunities that permitted him the ability to expand and experiment with his vision. Chef Allen fulfilled an ambition and personal goal with tenure in the kitchens of Le Bristol Hotel in Paris and Le Cirque Restaurant in New York.

As he matured, his confidence and individual style were apparent. In the spirit of adventure and opportunity, Allen chose Miami to blaze his own signature and forge his career.

Allen immediately identified South Florida's natural resources as a fountainhead for unique culinary combinations. While working at the Turnberry Isle Resort, he invented and explored the possibilities of juxtaposing fresh local fish and tropical fruits.

Adapting his training and technique in the creative inquisitive manner of a master and visionary, Chef Allen synthesized the essence of his adopted region. This fusion he sought would render a stimulating, satisfying and refreshing plate, but stand alone as a new Florida Cuisine. His dramatic translation of the bounty of South Florida's foodstuffs became NEW WORLD CUISINE, an innovative signature and important contribution to American Culinary craftmanship.

Allen continues to develop NEW WORLD CUISINE. Although he has expanded beyond the local-region definition and now draws equal and exciting strength from the Caribbean, Latin America and modern American influences.

Chef Allen's Restaurant has won accolades from local and national food writers: Food and Wine Magazine named Allen Susser as one of the top 10 New Chef in America in 1991. Time Magazine called Allen's cuisine "a New World marvel". The New York Times named Allen Susser "the Ponce de Leon of New Floridian cooking" and notes that "Susser's background could be seen in his tightly focused cuisine".

The Miami Herald, gave Chef Allen's their highest rating of exceptional, in their current review and noted: "... Chef Allen remains a pinnacle, a summit..."

El Nuevo Herald declared that: "... each dish shows such an audacity in combinations of four or more elements that it elicits... assertion of both pleasure and surprise."

In May of 1994, Chef Allen Susser received The James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award 1994, Southeast region. During 1995, he was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate degree from Johnson & Wales University. Also in 1995, he had his first book published: New World Cuisine and Cookery, (1995 Doubleday, to be followed by The Great Citrus Book, @1997 Ten Speed Press and his latest release, The Great Mango Book, October 2001, Ten Speed Press.

Chef Allen has also taken great personal involvement in the challenge of helping to feed the homeless, hungry and the homebound elderly. Kindly see attachments. Chef Allen has a succinct answer when explaining his philosophy; once again drawing from the ever present and important balance he has nurtured since childhood: "I love to cook; and so food is my life, my profession, my charity and my diversion."
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