Chris Nealon

Chris’s Story

“I am a bonafide Broward guy. When I was a kid, my parents operated a 12-unit Pompano Beach hotel called Ocean Terrace, and on the weekends my friends would come to the beach there. This was when Broward County had one small airport terminal and I-95 ended at Davie Blvd.

While I was still a student at Pompano Beach High School, I apprenticed with French chef Alain Petibon and learned the nuances of the country French cooking skills I still use today. Petibon and I worked at MaPomme. It was a gourmet place in the 1970’s that attracted the likes of Rodney Dangerfield, Mary Martin, Jerry Lewis and lots of other celebrities when they came to Fort Lauderdale. The only time I have ever been nervous cooking for famous people is when I cooked for Rod Stewart because I’m a big fan of his. He was specific about how he liked his 4pm English tea prepared.

I embraced those skills and went on to make an incredible life for myself as a chef. My life became a combo platter of catering local society parties for Wayne and Marti Huizenga, living aboard yachts in the Caribbean and summering in a 72-room Southampton mansion where I would create clambakes on the beach for the owners. Since they owned 13 Rolls Royce, their Rolls Royce mechanic sometimes lived there too.

In 1989 I came back to my roots and became the head chef at Aruba Beach Cafe. I have remained here because I am appreciated and also because we are in such a cool location. People from all over the world come here; some in suits some in shorts.

Sometimes customers get dinner and a show. On one of my days off, I was out fishing offshore from the restaurant and saw a crowd watching a 14-foot hammerhead shark. We often see police boats and helicopters at night. The ocean current has brought ashore Cubans and Haitians looking for a new life and their first glimpse of life in America is outside of our restaurant.

People often ask me if being a chef is a good thing to do. I tell them there is always work, whether it is in hospitality, on a yacht or in a restaurant. And, they will never go hungry.”

You can learn more about Aruba Beach Cafe at arubabeachcafe.com.

Watch Chris at Work

6 thoughts on “Chris Nealon: Chefs Never Go Hungry

  • Caren NealonFebruary 1, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    I’ve been blessed….Chris is my brother, my friend and at times teacher….when I want to know how to make a particular dish he is always eager to give direction. Needless to say I love his food…you can call me biased:-) He is as others have mentioned though one of the nicest guys ever. He is always willing to lend a helping hand and has the most gentle and caring heart of any man I have ever known…except maybe our dad. We had a great life growing up…enjoying summers at the boardwalk in Wildwood NJ or riding our ponies together before we moved to Florida over 40 years ago… fun childhood memories together that extend to today….I love him more than he will ever know…..

    Reply
  • Mary O’BrienJanuary 30, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    I go to The Aruba any chance I get. Everything I’ve tried has been delicious! The menu is great because it offers a wide selection, and everything I’ve tried has been delicious. The.ingredients are fresh and the fish is of high quality.

    Reply
  • Diane ScarnecchiaJanuary 30, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Love you chef Chris

    Reply
  • Donna ChiappJanuary 30, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Love you Chris! Have known you since you were a teen. Always knew you had great talents for becoming a head chef. We talked many times as I styled your hair. So proud of you and you are amazing!! Never disappointed. 5 stars and more!! Donna

    Reply
  • Chris FoxJanuary 29, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Chef Chris is a great person and even a better Chef I enjoyed his company and him teaching me when I worked for Aruba in 2007, all of people I encountered at Aruba Beach Cafe were always friendly and helpful. I hope the absolute best for everyone. Chrisfoxstudios.com

    Reply
  • Maria HäggJanuary 29, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    So great reading about you Chris!
    You are one of the most hospitable people I know.
    Always so gracious to your guests and friends it doesn’t surprise me one bit you are still there.
    Keep up your hard work, we appreciate you!

    Reply

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