On Sunday, March 5th, the 2023 Chef to Chef Conference kicked off in Miami at the InterContinental hotel, with a keynote by the legendary Patrick O’Connell, Chef and Proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington, who was met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“I’ve always felt a special bond with anyone in the foodservice industry,” O’Connell told the room full of club chefs. “I share your pain. I’m happy to be with you today.”
Over the past five decades, O’Connell has helped define American cuisine. He is a 6-time James Beard Foundation winner, in addition to Best Chef in America, Restaurant of the Year, Outstanding Wine Program and Best Service. He received the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
The Inn at Little Washington is the only Michelin 3-Star establishment south of New York City and has been awarded a 4th Star, the Green Star for sustainability. After 34 years is the longest-tenured Forbes 5-Star restaurant in the world. He has been presented with the National Endowment of Humanities Award by the President of the United States, who referred to him as “one of the greatest chefs of our time.”
During his Chef to Chef keynote, O’Connell shared a colorful and unlikely story of a self-taught chef who turned liabilities into strengths. He offered his unique perspective on cuisine, service and operations while inspiring attendees never to underestimate the power of good food.
Following O’Connell’s keynote—once again met with a standing ovation—attendees headed to the InterContinental’s rooftop space for the #CheftoChef2023 Kickoff Party, with live Cuban music, a local Latin dance group, and plenty of local food and drinks.
While the conference officially began Sunday, on Saturday, attendees were given the opportunity to attend several pre-conference events this year, starting with a tour of Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla.—Chef to Chef’s second-ever club tour—available this year to a limited number of guests.
The tour included luxury bussing from Miami to Ocean Reef. Upon arrival, attendees met with the club’s vice presidents, chefs and executive leadership team, who started the tour with an insightful look at the club’s daily operations.
From there, attendees toured Ocean Reef’s culinary operations and restaurants. They were taken through the kitchens, commissary and various outlets. The tour wrapped with a Keys-style beach BBQ dinner featuring some of Ocean Reef’s most popular food stations.
Also on Saturday, Chef to Chef attendees had the opportunity to take the WSET Level 1 Wine Course and Exam, led by Commonwealth Wine School.
On Sunday, before the keynote, conference partners put on pre-conference workshops for attendees: Aussie Beef & Lamb, DTG (Definitive Technology Group, LLC), KK&W, Rational USA, Triar Seafood, Northstar, Montague Company, C&T Design and Equipment Co. and CresCor.