Restaurateur Dennis Max, one of the region's most successful culinary entrepreneurs, helped redefine South Florida's cuisines in the 1980s with groundbreaking restaurants such as Café Max, Max's Place and Maxaluna. Credited with bringing California-style new American cuisine to South Florida diners, at its peak, Max's Unique Restaurant Concepts operated 17 restaurants with 1000 employees.
Max got his start in the restaurant business in the early 1970s while working at the national theme-oriented restaurant chain Victoria Station. After five years spent learning the ropes and developing an eye for culinary talent and honing his now-legendary business savvy, he and like-minded associate Burt Rapoport relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where they helped to create Carlos and Pepe's, the first California-style Mexican restaurant in South Florida.
Next came Raffles at Dadeland Mall, Max's first attempt to bring a California cuisine restaurant concept to Miami. A favorite gathering spot for young professionals, Raffles was an overnight success, eventually spawning an additional 10 locations in Florida and Atlanta.
In the early 1980's Dennis' own Unique Restaurant Concepts was founded. The inaugural project,Café Max, opened in 1984 in Pompano Beach, sparking a culinary revolution.
Successful from the outset, the charming new restaurant generated unprecedented interest in the fresh, new cuisine from California as well as the space's casual chic environment. Max built on this success, following with a string of ventures – Max's Place in North Miami, Maxaluna in Boca Raton and Brasserie Max in Plantation, positioning Unique and South Florida on the national restaurant industry radar, launching the careers of young chefs who grew into national names including Mark Militello, Oliver Saucy and Charles Saunders.
Rapoport returned to the fold and the business continued to grow throughout the 1990s – first with Max's Grille at trendy Mizner Park in 1991 and then into Miami Beach's Art Deco District with ventures like Astor Place and Max's South Beach and now with the opening of the farm to fork concept, Max's Harvest, in Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach.
Acclaimed Chef Eric Baker, most recently of the Buckhead Restaurant Group’s Lobster Bar Sea Grille, joined Max’s Harvest (www.maxsharvest.com) as Executive Chef in 2013.
Prior to serving as the Executive Chef at the Lobster Bar Sea Grille in Fort Lauderdale, Chef Baker was the Executive Sous Chef at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and the hotel’s Steak 954, both Starr Restaurant Group establishments. He also held sous chef positions with Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton and Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court n Palm Beach.
Chef Baker continues in the fine tradition of acclaimed Chefs at Max’s Harvest, which has received numerous accolades, including being listed in Zagat Miami 2013 and Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County in 2012 by the New Times Broward/Palm Beach.
Previously, Chef Baker was Chef de Partie at Restaurant Market in Paris, a restaurant of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and served in the kitchen at L’Espadon, Ritz Hotel Paris, and Louis XVI in Patchogue, New York.
“We are delighted to welcome the acclaimed Chef Baker to the Max’s family,” said Dennis Max. “He will be instrumental as Max’s Harvest continues to expand its network of local farmers who produce the highest-quality, sustainable ingredients for the eatery’s farm-to-fork cuisine.”
Peter is a seasoned restaurateur born and raised in Philadelphia who joined The Max Group family in January, 2011 as a manager at Max’s Grille. Prior to his move to South Florida, Peter spent three years with Starr Restaurants in Philadelphia, where he was manager at Buddakan, a $9 million 185 seat Modern Asian Restaurant, and at Striped Bass, a 145 seat Luxury Seafood establishment.
Peter has also served the manager of JP Prime Steakhouse in Wildwood, New Jersey, and as an Expeditor at Martini House in Napa Valley, a nationally-renowned Pat Kuleto/Todd Humphries fine-dining restaurant.
Peter is a graduate of Widener University outside of Philadelphia where he received a B.A. in Hospitality Management. He is also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (Napa Valley, CA), where he received his Advanced Culinary Arts Degree and completed the CIA Wine Immersion Program.
Growing up in the hospitality industry Ashleigh was bred for the business. Her passion started when she tagged along with each of her parents, to work. Her experience continued in High School where she worked at various restaurants in the heart of Delray Beach. After a stint in Tallahassee working with Southwood Golf and Country Club, named one of the top 50 golf courses, Ashleigh moved back down to South Florida and joined the acclaimed Boca Raton Resort and Beach Club. During her 5 years at Boca Resort, she worked her way to private dining room manager. Ashleigh was then given the opportunity to open Racks Fish House and Oyster bar, in Delray Beach. While Ashleigh was at Racks, she led the service staff by setting standards, and developing procedures. Ashleigh left Racks, to welcome her son Jaxon. After the first year of motherhood, Ashleigh jumped back into the business at Max’s Harvest as Assistant General Manager.
Born and raised outside of New Orleans, Jacob was influenced by the strong culinary culture of the city. Jacob started cooking at a very young age with his grandmother. He attended John Folse Culinary Institute for two years, while interning with Café Adelaide in New Orleans. After his internship, Jacob worked through the legendary Commanders Palace, and was promoted to Sous Chef. While there, he studied Cajun Creole under Chef Tory Mcphail. Jacob continued to hone his culinary skills in Nashville, Tennessee where he took the position of Sous Chef at Park Café. Jacob and a few of his friends decided to bring their culinary knowledge to South Florida. After staging around Delray Beach he decided that Max’s Harvest was the restaurant for him.