Get a behind-the-scenes look at Florida Cookery with Kris Wessel – exclusive

Florida Cookery is scheduled to bring “authentic” Floridian eats to The James Royal Palm beginning this November. We chatted with native Floridian and James Royal Palm chef/partner Kris Wessel (Red Light) – pictured here with executive chef Nolan Narut – about going corporate, true Floridian food and his three-tiered menu…

Red Light is known for its independence, it must be weird going “corporate.”
I’m a very independent soul with Red Light and with everything I’ve done, but this has been great. The Denihan group partners with David Burke at the James Hotels in SoHo & Chicago, so they have almost a blueprint on how to carry through a chef thread.

How will the two differ?
Florida Cookery will be different from Red Light in the sense that it will be clean & have AC. At Red Light, we’re more like a man cave – we’re urban and funky, a microcosm of the neighborhood. Florida Cookery is purposefully the opposite. The design is very Florida in the modern sense, but with real eco-attention. It’s very clean and open with wisps of old Florida, or even 1950s California.

And how will Florida Cookery differ from the dozens of other hotel restaurants on Collins?
We’re going to be a true Floridian concept. The name Florida Cookery sounds like a real cracker name, but the actual food statement involves South American, Caribbean. American South and the North East.

Tell us a bit more about the food statement

I’m going to have items from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the old cracker south, but I’m also going to play to the fact hat I’m on South Beach, so the wording on the menu will be light and fun because that’s what Miami Beach is.

And menu details?
It’s a three-tiered menu – 12 proteins, 12 grains & vegetables and seven flavor-driven sauces. Dishes like frog legs, mahi mahi, Indian corn pudding, lean snapper, coconut water steamed sugar snaps and mojo Diablo sauce. You gotta give the people what they want.

Feast on the first taste of Florida Cookery with these images

Grapefruit-Guajillo Ceviche


Suwannee River Ranch Grilled Wild Boar Chops, savory sapodilla jam, ajo cassava & spinach leaves


Fluger Family Traps Spiny Lobster


Diner-Style Chocolate Cake


Thanks for checking out our new site! We’ve changed a ton of stuff, and we’d love to know what you think.
Email feedback