As a Swiss chef I took the opportunity to go and see the world, that profession was in demand especially in the United States during the 70’s, it was the ticket to enter the USA to pursue my destiny.
After spending two and a half years in Bermuda and another year in the Bahamas I got the opportunity through a friend in the Bahamas getting an interview setup in Miami with a person looking to open up a first class private dinning club in Miami Beach. The year was 1976.
They were looking for a team of chefs to manage this club; I asked my friend Johnny if he wanted to join me and go for the interview but he said no he didn’t want go, ( why I still don’t understand up to today) because a couple of years later he went to work in Boston for a hotel corporation which promised him to obtain the resident papers but never received them.
Anyway I then asked my other friend Peter if he would be interested to join me, and he right away jumped on the opportunity!
From the Bahamas to Miami Beach
So we went to Miami Beach for our interview. At the airport in Miami we were met by Leslie, a friend of the guy in the Bahamas whom organized this meeting, he took us to Miami Beach to meet the owner of the world famous steak house and owner of the soon to be open dinning club.
We had to cook for about 10 people, the owner and his friends. The result was that we got hired! So we flew back to the Bahamas to give our notice at the El Casino in Freeport, a few weeks later we traveled to the US to start our new venture.
The owner of the club was connected to the mob and had a lot of influence in town. The procedure to receive our green cards was very efficient and quick where other folks had to wait in line for hours or days just to obtain an interview with the immigration, we had a pass straight to the immigration officer and had our permits within weeks which otherwise took months.
The club opened and we accumulated a great reputation in town with the food, and the owner being connected we attracted everyone with a name, movie stars, singers, football stars and dignitaries form all over the country.
My friend Peter that joined me left the club after about a year to pursue an other opportunity and I stayed on and maintained the reputation and standards on my own for another 2 1/2 years.
During that time a man came for dinner at the club, her read the 4 star review in the Miami Herald about us that week and decided to come and make me an offer I couldn’t refuse to open a new restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
I really didn’t make up my mind at the time to accept the offer since I liked were I was but after the
Owner of the private club decided to combine the club with the restaurant next door to make it one big unit I decided to give my notice. Even though I was promoted to Food Manager, however since the steakhouse was a mass production of approximately 200 plus dinners a nite, there was no time for personal attention, daily creations and detail on presentations and that really wasn’t my style of cooking; it just became a job.
After coming back from my honeymoon in Europe I started the new venture in Fort Lauderdale.
10 days into setting up the new restaurant in Fort Lauderdale the owner Stephan told me that I had to stay home for a few weeks until things settled down! I asked him why? he told me that they had bomb threats because he stole me away from the Miami Beach Private Club!
He said he needed time to straighten things out before I came back just for safety reasons! I was really bummed out about that because all I wanted is to get back into the kitchen and cook away.
A Jewel of a Restaurant
The dining room of this jewel little restaurant had 40 seats, 14 karat silverware, original Miros paintings on the walls, Solingen Crystal glassware and cutlery holders, Villeroy & Bach porcelain etc., it was a dream come true for me & my food!
The restaurant was tucked away in the back of great night club with a 15 piece live band.
Anyway I stayed home for about three weeks until I got the call from the owner that it was safe for me to come back now. I guess he made peace with the Miami Beach businessmen because about 1 months after the opening the private Club owner showed up with his Saudi Prince partner and entourage for dinner. The security staff accompanying them checked out everyone in the place before they came into the restaurant, I guess to make sure nobody would poison anybody or that I didn’t have any automatic weapons hidden inside my stoves!
I was at the helm of this jewel from 1980 until 1987 until it was sold, after that I left with the owner Stephan to Santo Domingo to open up the new Jaragua Hotel, Resort and European Spa.
Associated Public Links:
The murder of Meyer Lansky’s stepson at the Forge Restaurant when I was working at the private club next door