Southern Florida is the land of sunshine, palm trees and the dynamic cooking of Chef Allen Susser. Chef Allen is a long time friend of FoodFit and we both share a passion for local ingredients that are healthy and reflect the many cultures of America. In my quest to explore local flavors across America, I sat down with Chef Allen to talk about his special cuisine and how he is bringing it to his Thanksgiving menu.
Near Miami, his restaurant, Chef Allen's is a destination for delicious food and that is where he has created his signature New American Cuisine. The restaurant is celebrating its 20th year of bringing sumptuous meals that celebrate local ingredients mixed with the cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean. Allen says that "the challenge of the 21st Century is how to apply the world's ingredients in a completely innovative way."
Allen Susser's cooking has been nationally recognized and in 1994 he received the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award, southeast region. Also he has gotten the highest rating of "exceptional" from the Miami Herald and has won raves from Food and Wine Magazine, Time Magazine and the New York Times.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Allen has created some fantastic menus that bring excitement to the holiday table. When he joined me at Ellen's Healthy Table, we had a wide-ranging conversation that touched on his cooking philosophy, the books he has written and how he will be celebrating Thanksgiving in sunny Florida.
Ellen: What are the defining elements of your New American Cuisine?
Chef Allen: It centers around local ingredients here in South Florida. The inspiration is of the culture that surrounds it. That means that because the culture is heavily Latin and tropical and food is eaten in the heat of day, the body wants something that is healthier and light. The flavors are big spices, and the loud colors jump off the plate.
Ellen: What are special examples of New American Cuisine on your Thanksgiving menu?
Chef Allen: We are beginning the meal with Lavender and Sage Roasted Wild Florida Shrimp with Spinach Couscous, Plantains, Dried Apricot and Banlyus Syrup. and starting it with exciting tastes. The salad, Jerk Calamari, Mango and Watercress, is a simple dish that reflects the tropics. And the Key Lime Mojo Roasted Turkey is a special take on the holiday feast. We have many more choices that blend the many influences of Florida and its multi-cultures. On Thanksgiving Day, the staff - and my family - always sit down together before the service at the restaurant and enjoy the inspiring meal.
Ellen: You have a wonderful appreciation of the marketplace and bring that to your books. You also have online cooking classes. How can I find all of this?
Chef Allen: The books - The Great Citrus Book, The Great Mango Book and the up coming The Great Spice Book are available on my site http://www.chefallens.com. The online cooking classes are popular for learning how you can cook up a meal with lots of Latin spice.
This week you can enjoy the tastes of Southern Florida with one of my favorite recipes from Chef Allen Susser. It brings the flavors of the tropics to Ellen's Healthy Table:
Published On: November 09, 2007