Meet Executive Chef Ivan Dorvil

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Guysanto
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Meet Executive Chef Ivan Dorvil

Post by Guysanto » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:16 pm

"To me, life is fifty percent food fifty percent sex, neither of which should be less than perfect." With these words, Executive Chef Ivan Dorvil shares a philosophy, which has shaped his career and contributed to his gastronomical success. The 36 year old was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti and grew up in Canada. Chef Dorvil began his career, one could say, years before he answered his calling. He recalls that growing up in a Haitian household, he, like many young Haitian males, was not allowed in the kitchen, even to boil to water. With what he describes as “nosey rebellion,” Dorvil peeked through doors and windows to get a glimpse of the fascinating world of the kitchen. His passion for food was also born at this time. In Dorvil's childhood household, he recalls eating leftovers with a voracious appetite. Fortunately, he is one of those people who can enjoy all the food they want and not gain weight.

In addition to receiving a degree in Engineering from Bauder College, Chef Dorvil was educated at the Gastronomical Institute in Montreal, Canada. He also attended Miami-Dade Community College where he took several drama courses. It was there that he honed his writing skills, participated in plays, and even developed his love of jokes and stand-up comedy. He has performed his comedy at community events held at North Miami Senior High School.

Rising Star

While Dorvil cannot pinpoint the exact moment he knew he wanted to be a chef, he acknowledges that being a Haitian man in his profession opens him up to prejudice. This is in part attributed to Haitian parents' tendency to want to choose their children's profession. All of this, he says, was overshadowed by his “passion for food.” Luckily for the South Florida community, Dorvil decided to settle in Miami. According to him, he is well-known in the Anglo community, while Haitians just see him as a “cook.” His experience is well documented. Chef Dorvil has opened several Miami Beach restaurants including Oasis, Pineapple, Tap Tap, Tantra, and his own Nutmeg. He was also the chef at the Delano Restaurant in Miami Beach. About four months ago, he opened his second restaurant, Nuvo Kafé in North Miami. Located at 13152 West Dixie Highway, near downtown North Miami, the restaurant is best described as “French-based fusion cuisine.” Dorvil states that the menu does not reflect a typical Latin, Haitian, Mediterranean, or Jewish fare, but is delectable blend of various cuisines.

Kote Moun Yo?

Nuvo KafeDorvil has received great reviews from the Miami Herald and is recognized as the one of the best chefs on the Miami scene. Why then, one might ask, has he decided to take what many view a financial risk and open a Haitian restaurant in North Miami? In a city where you can find at least 2 Haitian restaurants in a one mile radius, Dorvil has taken a daring leap. His mission: Bring fusion style fine dining to the Haitian community. His main barrier: Eating prejudices. As he puts it, “Most Haitians do not eat for pleasure but just for the sake of it.” His goal is to expose Miami's Haitian community, not only to a daring concept of food as art; but he also hopes to show them that it is possible to create “well-balanced calorie” meals without the excessive use of spices that can cause health problems. Dorvil admits that he might be placing himself in a precarious position: “This is my first time in the Haitian community. I have come closer to them . . . at least you have to try. If it does not work, I will move on.” There is a possibility that the community will turn its back on him. As of now, the majority of his diners are Anglos. However, Nuvo Kafé has been frequented by a good number of Haitians, including local celebrity politicians such as North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin, Representatives Philip Brutus, Yolly Roberson, and Jacques Despinosse. Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has also made an appearance.

Dorvil stresses that Nuvo Kafé is a restaurant for the people. In order to be successful, the restaurant “needs a grassroots movement of people who brings friends” to tantalize their taste buds. While he does not negate the space that fast food Haitian restaurants serve, Dorvil emphasizes that Nuvo Kafé does not specialize in “brown plate, slap it in a box, and go food.”

Chef Dorvil believes that there is space for both fine dining and fast food in the Haitian community. To illustrate, he points out that a well-known Haitian restaurant, Chef Creole is right across the street from Nuvo Kafé. Dorvil states, “Twenty thousand cars drive by both restaurants everyday. Within those numbers, there are different clientele bases. Some people want “relax and mellow” others want “a plate to go.” It is possible for each restaurant owner to support the other in what we are trying to accomplish.” In trying to get Haitians to learn about, accept, and enjoying diverse eating experiences, he insists, it is important to do something different. To this end, he has advertised on Haitian-owned Radio Carnival and Island T.V. “In Haitian culture,” he says, “most people stick to what they know. They don't want to invade or experience a different type of cuisine.” This must change. In other words, Haitians need to learn that food is not only cooked to fill the stomach, but also created to please the palate.

The Culinary Artist

Just like writers create beautiful images with words, and pianists entice audiences with powerful melodies, the chef is an artist. Eating, Chef Dorvil shares, should not only be an act which fulfills a physiological need. For Dorvil, the most fulfilling part of being a chef is “watching people having an orgasm over my food.” A diner's first bite of his culinary delights should induce gastronomic pleasure impulses. The rolling of the eyes, the delicate moans of satisfaction, are to him, the perfect compliment. While he does not have “a strangest customer request” to share, Chef Dorvil says that his least favorite request to hear is “May I have sauce on the side please?” His reason for this is simple: “When you create a dish, you want it to be presented the way you create it. But . . . you have to please the customer.” .

The Work Behind the Art

A typical workday for Chef Dorvil lasts 14 to 15 hours: “ It is not a simple task. Your heart has to be in it. I am constantly at it all the time, from the front to the back of the house, from the dining room to the kitchen.” His creative juices are only marred by the one thing he could do without – purveyors. However, his ability and knowledge of how to deal with the management side of the restaurant business is one of the things that separate a “chef” from a “cook.” When interviewing potential employees, Chef Dorvil looks for people “with good attitudes and kindness.” His biggest management gripe is “dealing with people who do not have the same goals in terms of professional level.” Because of this, he tries to nurture novice chefs. He has facilitated classes at Johnson and Wales University in North Miami and is currently supervising an intern from the same school. Chef Dorvil says that he used to read cookbooks but stopped about 7 years ago. As he is “always in a creative mode,” the cookbooks if used as tools of reference would slow him down. He does not identify any particular “failure” in the kitchen because creating dishes is a “trial and error” process. The creative mind works until he is “right on the money.” His biggest influence is Danish Chef Soren Brendahl. Chef Dorvil advises young chefs today to “Work had, love what you do, and keep strong” in order to reach their goals.

Bon Appétit

When one hears the term “Renaissance Man,” the picture of a chef does not usually come to mind. But it is easy to see how Executive Chef Ivan Dorvil can be characterized as such. From his engineering training, to acting, to his stand up comedy, to his ability to speak four languages, Ivan Dorvil epitomizes an individual who is passionate and knowledgeable about diverse topics. His creativity is evident, not only in the warm décor which tastefully blends Haitian folk art with nouveau chic. The menu offers delicious appetizers, scrumptious courses and delectable desserts. On Fridays and Sundays beginning December 13th, the restaurant will feature live performances by Manno Charlemagne. Saturday and Thursday night entertainment plans are in the works. So, next time you or a friend lament the lack of fine Haitian eating establishments in South Florida, remember Chef Ivan Dorvil's Nuvo Kafé. To quote him, “Food should be like wine. You might not be able to pinpoint what makes it so great, but you'll crave it again.” Make reservations or just stop by. But whatever you do, know that you will return, for one cannot help but crave Nuvo Kafé's gastronomic art, a delightful blend of Haitian tradition and world flair.

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Post by Guysanto » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:39 am

I am so surprised Leonel did not pick up on the first sentence of this article.

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Best Haitian Restaurant

Post by Guysanto » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:44 am

Miami New Times
http://bestof.miaminewtimes.com/bestof/ ... &year=2003

View 03
Restaurants

BEST HAITIAN RESTAURANT
Nuvo Kafe

Nuvo Kafe
13152 W Dixie Hwy

The emphasis is on "nuvo" here, as Haiti-born chef/owner Ivan Dorvil puts his own spin on the cookery of his homeland with updated, more sophisticated versions that reflect his own training in Montreal and influences picked up at various stints during his career. That said, the traditional pumpkin soup haitienne is just that, hearty fare that spells comfort food for those with Caribbean roots. Friendly and personable, Dorvil will patiently walk you through the menu and his specials, and then disappear into the kitchen to whip them up. He is sure to come back out later to monitor your progress and chat in the pleasant dining room decorated with folk art and burlap curtains. Not yet open a year, Nuvo Kafe will, we hope, manage to stick around.

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Chef Extraodinaire: Ivan Dorvil

Post by Guysanto » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:59 am

http://www.islandflave.com/interviews/nuvo-cafe.shtml

Chef Extraodinaire: Ivan Dorvil

Interview by Sarah Etienne
IslandFlave.com


Chef Ivan Dorvil, owner of the Nuvo Kafe restaurant, shares his culinary talents and love for Caribbean Cuisine with the North Miami community. The restaurant is located 13152 W. Dixie Highway. The Haitian chef who was once scolded by family members for wanting to assist with cooking has become one of the most sought after chefs by Hollywood's elite. Learn more about the talented chef in this interview with Ivan Dorvil.

Islandflave: What was your first cooking experience?
Ivan: My first experience was when I was a little boy. Being from Haitian parents, cooking is not something they want their children to do. They want they children to be doctors and lawyers… Even though I have a degree in engineering, my passion was always cooking. I got my Culinary Arts degree in Canada then I came back down here.

Islandflave: Describe the food of your restaurant?
Ivan: It's a very eclectic type of Caribbean cuisine.

Islandflave: What is the most popular dish on your menu?
Ivan: Our appetizer combo platter. It consists of coconut shrimp, small biscuits conch fritters and a salad for garnish. Also people adore the Pink Snapper Fillet and the Blackened Snapper.

Islandflave: What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Ivan: Being close to the customers, communicating with them and seeing their reaction to the food I cook for them.

Islandflave: What do you dislike about being a chef?
Ivan: When customers complain about something they don't have much knowledge about. I try to please them but sometimes you can't win.

Islandflave: What has been the greatest accomplishment of your career?
Ivan: I feel that I have been successful because the appreciation this community has for what Im doing. I don't measure success by money; I measure success by the appreciation I receive and being able to create.

Islandflave: What do you still want to accomplish?
Ivan: To make sure that Haitian cuisine gets to an international level. Compared to other cultures, Haitian cuisine stays very local. Being a chef and eating in many restaurants around the world, there aren't many people that frequent Haitian restaurants and I believe there is a reason for that. I want to break that barrier and invite Anglos, Jews and other cultures to try Haitian food. There is nothing wrong with Haitian food, it's just a matter of having someone who knows how to prepare and present it.

Islandflave: If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing?
Ivan: I would be an Actor /Comedian.

Islandflave: What is your favorite type of food?
Ivan: I eat a lot vegetarian dishes. It's a way to eat and stay healthy. If you don't watch what you eat, you could actually kill yourself very slowly.

Islandflave: Who are some chefs that you admire?
Ivan: Here in Miami, Willis Logins. He is a young chef like me and I admire his work. Chef Toigeau, he is a French chef that I worked with at the Delano Hotel. And Chef Allen, I like his work. He does a Caribbean/Haitian fusion cuisine that I adore and feel that's where my cooking style is going but with my own style.

Islandflave: What distinguishes a great chef from a good chef?
Ivan: A good chef makes food that anyone could enjoy and that's about it. A great chef is able to create something that other people can follow. A great chef will always leave a legacy for other people to follow.

Islandflave: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ivan: Right now I have no spare time but if I did, I would like to travel, dance and do fun things.

Islandflave: Your restaurant is decorated with pictures of you posing with popular stars. How did you meet them?
Ivan: I am a private chef for a lot of stars. I was hired to cook for Seven, one of the top music producers in New York, and met celebrities who come to record in the studio and became their chefs. I've cooked for Janet Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, P Diddy, Chili from TLC and Pattie LaBelle.

Islandflave: What advice do you have for aspiring chefs?
Ivan: Stay focused, stay strong and keep creating.

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