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.”
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.
3030 is on the verge of its eleventh 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
At 3030 Ocean, Chef Max created an ever-changing menu resplendent with seafood and offering a five-star level of cuisine and service. Here, diners will find a sumptuous raw bar, with offerings changing nightly. Guests then journey through a dense menu rich with simple yet delectable salads, soups and entrees made with the freshest ingredients available. Like the raw bar offerings, Max changes the menu nightly, blending traditional favorites, such as halibut and Florida snapper, with more offbeat selections, including monchong and opah from Hawaii and John Dory from New Zealand. Regardless of what he’s working with, Max stays true to his goal of keeping things fresh, simple and delicious, from the tomatoes he imports from California to succulent oysters fresh from the coast of Washington. “Great meats and seafood don’t need to be marinated to be flavorful, just prepared in a way that pays homage to them.” To that end, Max eschews creamy and fattening sauces for light broths and opts for more healthful side including sweet and sour tiger eggplant, Asian greens, fresh hearts of palm and sea beans, to name a few. Of course, heartier options, such as goat cheese polenta, abound. “Like the ocean, at 3030 there’s something for everyone,” Max philosophizes.
2012 Advisory Board for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival
2010 Crowned King of American Seafood after winning the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans representing the state of Florida
2009, 2010, 2011 Finalist for Best Chef of the South, James Beard Foundation
2005 Boca Raton Magazine voted Chef Max “Best Chef” in south Florida.
2005 Readers Poll for New Times resulted in 4 awards for 3030 Ocean…Best Seafood, Best Service, Best Raw Bar, Best Broward Restaurant
2006 National Restaurant Association voted Chef Max Best chef of South Florida
2006 3030 Ocean received Best Seafood Restaurant, and Chef Max Best Chef
2007 Best Chef South Florida, Fort Lauderdale Magazine
2008 Best Chef Boca Raton Magazine
2009 Best Chef South Florida, New Times Magazine
2009 Chef Chair for Taste of the Nation
2007-2009 Best Seafood Restaurant South Florida by Gold Coast Magazine
2008-09 Board member at large Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association
2005-2009 Board member of the Seafood & Aquaculture Advisory Board reporting to the Department of Agriculture
2004-2009 Sponsored by the Wild American Shrimp Organization
2008-09 Board member for the culinary division of the Art Institute, Fort Lauderdale
Born & raised on the coast of Jacksonville Florida, Chef Jeremy Ford began his career in culinary industry at the tender age of 16. As Garden Manager at Mathews, a four-star Mediterranean style restaurant, he cultivated the basic skill of mincing vegetables before packing it in for Los Angeles a year later to work at the world-renowned restaurant, L'Orangerie. Not speaking a word of French, in an all-French kitchen, proved an asset for the young protégé who absorbed skills by watching how the culinary team handled the fine ingredients and fileted their fish with care. The dedication to his craft drew Ford to wake early and join Celebrity Chef Cristophe Eme (Iron Chef) in the kitchen to take part in "the fun stuff" and witness the preparation of his signature dishes; knowledge which would remain with the young chef as he later moved on to work with Master Chef Joachim Splichal at Patina, and Jean Jacques de Paris. Today, back in his native Florida, Ford, under the tutelage of his current mentor Chef Dean James Max, presides over the kitchen at 3030 Ocean as Chef de Cuisine.
"Out of all the chefs I have worked for no one has had the impact as my current mentor Dean Max. He has changed the way I think about food; contrasting sweet with hot, crunchy and smooth. I have never thought about the impact we can make as chefs by using local farms instead of mass production farms out of the country. Chef Max has opened my eyes of what family farming is all about, from the mom who is doing the accounting, the dad who is planting seeds, and the green-eyed daughter who is picking micros; it is the big picture he has shown me supporting" the naturalistic way of life." – Jeremy Ford