In 1994 award-winning chef Cindy Hutson met her life partner, Delius Shirley. With an inherit passion for cooking, but no formal training and three kids to care for, Hutson was hesitant to open her first restaurant venture. Hutson’s culinary style, which is heavily influenced by her extensive travel and food history, is inspired by “Cuisine of the Sun,” a self-coined approach that means to create without limits and cook everything under the sun, infusing nuances of her signature island flavors throughout.
Against the odds and with the extra support of Shirley, Hutson took the leap of faith and that same year opened Norma’s on the Beach. Rave reviews touted Hutson’s cuisine as “the best Caribbean restaurant in South Florida” and international support from USA Today, The New York Times, London Times, Chicago Tribune, Chef Magazine and Eater, who named Hutson “Chef of the Year” (2012), helped set the pace for what would develop into a thriving culinary future.
More than 20 years later the dynamic duo has built a culinary empire with the successful opening and operation of more than eight award-winning concepts. Huston’s culinary approach has been long rooted in the support of utilizing what is local and indigenous to the land, which can be seen in her many regionally-inspired Caribbean concepts.
“I thrive on teaching about our earth’s bounties, edible history and the indigenous ingredients that are regionally prepared,” says Hutson about her culinary inspiration. “Being a chef has been an experience beyond imagination; there are no boundaries, only new opportunities and trends unfolding daily at my door.”
Currently Hutson runs her now sixteen-year-old love-child, Ortanique on the Mile in Coral Gables, Florida, which opened with Esquire and Bon Appétit acknowledging it as one of the “Best New Restaurants” and Condé Nast Traveler awarding it as one of their “Hot Table” concepts; and her five-year-old Ortanique on the Crescent at Camana Bay on Grand Cayman Island, which has been praised by Cayman News Magazine as one of the “Top 50 Best Restaurants” in the Caribbean.
In the spring of 2015 Hutson published her first cookbook, From the Tip of My Tongue, which is a “best of” of all her famous recipes. Later this fall she will open Zest, a fine dining concept, and Zest MRKT, a “grab and go” concept, in downtown Miami’s booming business district, Brickell. The 3,500-square-foot restaurant will have an adjacent market, both featuring menus inspired by Hutson’s famous “Cuisine of the Sun.” Hutson will also take her talents to Negril, Jamaica at the boutique hotel The Cliff Hotel & Spa where her cuisine will be enjoyed alongside white sands and blue waters.
When Hutson is not in the kitchen, she can be found lending her culinary expertise to the food community by hosting events, intimate cooking classes and also working with Certified Angus Beef and the National Pork Board, both of which she acts as their culinary ambassador. Hutson has also served on the board of the Miami-Dade County Culinary Council, Idaho Potato, and Egg Board as their “Egg-cellent” chef.
Learn More About Cindy Hutson
What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
Eating raw clams and crème de menthe parfaits with my Dad watching football on Sundays. Must have been 5 ish
If you've participated in the Festival before, what is your favorite SOBEWFF memory to date?
wow a lot of years and fun memories' to think about. Chef's tend to party hearty so most events are a blast and the endings sometimes a blurr. BUT, I was honored to win Goya's peoples choice award at Swine and Wine 2015W
If this is your first year particpating in SOBEWFF, what are you most looking forward to?
If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I would love to cook with Eric Ripert, I've always admired Le Bernardin. And Norma Shirley because I miss her.
I never leave home without my:
"wallet" purse that's inside my regular purse, that's inside my satchel ...ask my daughter what all that means