Chef Dean James Max
“My love of food comes from living in Florence, Italy, my technique from working with French chefs and my understanding of what freshness is all about from growing up on a farm in Virginia.”
You would never have had to meet Chef Dean to feel his passion, sincerity, and respect for what you are about to eat, regardless of the course. I would equate his cooking to the enthusiasm of a child, the wisdom of a professor, and the talent of an artist rolled up in one.
Considering his position as one of South Florida’s foremost seafood provocateurs, it’s not surprising to discover that Dean James Max, the Executive Chef of 3030 Ocean, located on Fort Lauderdale beach at the beautiful Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, grew up on small farm just minutes from the rich shores of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. “There’s something about the water which is magical to me,” Max muses in the introduction to his cookbook, A Life by the Sea, which was released in April 2006. “My love of food is fed from the fond memories of smells and tastes of my childhood.”
The memories of his teenage years, spent fishing and cooking with his chef grandfather on the Jersey Shore resonate at 3030. Launched in December 2000, the warm, open space is the perfect venue for Max’s sophisticated yet simple modern American seafood creations, full of fresh-from-the ocean oysters, clams, fish and crabs. “Modern cuisine embraces a dedication to simplicity, freshness and intensity of flavor,” Max says. “Sourcing is the key. My cuisine relies more on balancing flavors than on heavy spicing so finding the best ingredients available is a must.”
3030 is on the verge of its nine-year anniversary, which Max will honor with his annual charity gala for Kids in Distress. Equally significant, he released his first cookbook, A Life by the Sea. Boasting a cornucopia of amazing recipes, insights, cooking tips and gorgeous images by renowned photographer Quentin Bacon, the 200-page compendium, available for sale at the restaurant, most national book retailers and on Amazon.com, aims to enlighten readers on the benefits of seafood-rich diet while assuaging their fears of cooking seafood. “The delicate nature of fish scares home cooks,” Max says. “To cut down on the fear factor, I intentionally kept the recipes simple but stylish. The book was a two-year labor of love aimed at demystifying seafood.” In addition, Max spent a portion of 2006 on a national book tour with Sur la Table, a chain of high-end food retail stores who regularly host culinary scribes ranging from Wolfgang Puck to Donna Hay, among others. Chef Max is due to release his second book, “3030 Ocean, A lifestyle” which will be in time to honor their 10-year anniversary. The book will highlight a decade of culinary dedication and feature their best recipes over the past years. The book will be an entertainment style layout, which will delve into the secrets of a restaurants success. Look for the book to hit the stands by April of 2010.
Chef Max previously from Woodside in Brentwood, California, where as Owner/Chef, he was responsible for all aspects of operations of this highly acclaimed restaurant. While at Woodside, Chef Max was profiled by Sunset Magazine and The Los Angeles Times “Dean James Max steps right into the groove with his polished dishes” says S. Irene Virbila. His modern American cuisine has been noted as “stylish” and “tongue-tingling” by Gourmet Magazine where he received a stellar review. The James Beard Foundation recognized Chef Max as a “Great Regional Chef of America.” ML Warren, Sun Sentinel, called Max a “Culinary Dynamo” and described his food as “Unadulterated Joy”.
Prior to his position at the Woodside, Chef Max was Executive Chef of Mumbo Jumbo Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia where he was a partner with super star chef Guenter Seeger. Chef Max’s resume also includes positions as Executive Chef with Brasserie Savoy located in the Savoy Hotel in San Francisco, Gerard’s Place in Washington D.C. and the Ritz Carlton Dining Room in Pentagon City, Virginia and The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia.
A Stuart, Florida native, Chef Max grew up in the food business. As a young child, he received hands-on experience from his father, a produce broker. Soon, the family moved to Virginia and lived on a farm. “Growing up in an organic environment gave me an early insight about what freshness really is and how foods work together,” “I even had my own jalapeño patch when I was nine” said Max. Chef Max holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Florida State University with a Hotel and Restaurant Minor. He has also attended the Florence Study Center in Florence, Italy. He has appeared on the Home & Garden Television’s “Smart Solutions” series, also on “The Organic Farmer”, as well as numerous national news shows like Fox & Friends and the TV Food Network’s Challenge.