Kitchen Inquisition: Chef Dean James Max

The man behind 3030 Ocean talks mussels, blue crabs and just about everything else you can pull out of a net


Normally we wouldn't use Jersey Shore and "high-end cuisine" in the same sentence, but there's a first for everything, and 3030 Ocean's Dean James Max is so worthy. The chef grew up on a small farm just outside Virginia's Chesapeake Bay and spent his teenage years fishing and cooking with his culinary-inclined grandfather. He's staying true to his roots in his Fort Lauderdale restaurant, which you can visit for a stellar prix fixe price until November 11th thanks to Dine Out Fort Lauderdale. Here, the author of cookbook "A Life by the Sea" talks mussels, blue crabs and just about everything else you can pull out of a net.

When did you realize you wanted to be a chef? 
When I was in high school. I cooked a lot for my friends and family and spent a lot of time watching cooking shows.

We're sure all the dishes on 3030's menu are like your children, but which is your favorite?
That's exactly what I tell people that ask the question. If I didn't love them, I would have to take them off.  I like so many flavors that it's hard to pin point, but the mussels is something I always want to eat, so if I had to pick one it would be the spicy mussels.

Most popular dish on the menu?
The spicy mussels and the black grouper when we have it.

Five ingredients every kitchen should have?
Good quality sea salt, fresh ground pepper mills, grapeseed oil, a really nice extra virgin olive oil, great butter, and tons of wine!

Favorite food memory?
Eating blue crabs on a picnic table on our farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as kids with all our family: corn, potato salad, plenty of old Bay, I just wish I was old enough then to have a beer with it.

Favorite dish to cook at home?
Pasta with anything.

Dish you could eat all day?

What do you do when you're not cooking?
Swimming laps, surfing, playing volleyball with my daughter and baseball with my son, and jogging with my wife -- and playing Barbies with my 3-year-old.

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