Redefining Island Cuisine With Chef Brendan Orr

Vacationers look for something different than what they get at home. Chef Brendon Orr realized that and created a new style for dining, New Island Cuisine, imitated by many but created by Chef Orr.

People don't travel to Tuscany or Paris or Tokyo just so they can eat the same hamburger they can get back home. Yet, many of the restaurants that dot the tiny island of Key West, Florida specialize in exactly that: a menu that could fit anywhere in the United States. Even several of the restaurants that feature locally caught seafood do so in such a conventional way that if you were to close your eyes you might know you were on the island.

Chef Brendan Orr, an award winning chef raised in South Florida and trained in Paris, recognized this glaring hole in the culinary landscape when he was brought on as executive chef at Rooftop Cafe. Combining the traditional skills he had been educated in with the work he had done creating dishes with the local ingredients and flavors, he presented the owners with a brand new style of cooking and presentation: New Island Cuisine.

"So much of the island's history is a hodge-podge of influences: Bahamian, Cuban, Caribbean and even a little New England, I felt it was important to make sure that the dishes I created and the menu that I put out there reflected all of those flavors," Chef Brendon Orr recently said. "I felt that while many of the Key West restaurants were featuring fine options, none of them were really tapping into the zeitgeist that is Key West, Florida."

By creating this new way of cooking, Chef Orr has created an exciting new dynamic in the culinary world, one that has become more and more popular as word of mouth about his creations has spread. A Key West vacation isn't complete until you experience the first and still the best in island cuisine.

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