Ai Fort Lauderdale Alum Named James Beard Award Semifinalist

By: Jeffery LaLiberte Filed under: Culinary

March 14, 2018

The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale is proud to share the news that Niven Patel, a 2006 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management program at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, has been named a semifinalist in the 2018 James Beard Awards Best Chef South category. Patel is chef and owner of Ghee Indian Kitchen in Miami. 
A pursuit for knowledge was the stimulus and continues to be the driving force behind Chef Niven’s career. Patel was born in Georgia to parents of a traditional Indian heritage.  

“I have been cooking all my life,” Patel said. “I used to make my menus as a child and let my family order, and then I went into the kitchen to cook whatever they wanted.” His first glimpse into the restaurant world came as a student at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. “I was hooked,” he said. “I was cooking and working in restaurants the whole time during college.” 

Chef Niven Patel

Patel earned his chops at 3030 Ocean Restaurant at the Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., working under Chef Dean Max for six years. He then traveled to Italy to learn and cook for six months, returning to the U.S. to be a part of various restaurants such as Watertable at the Renaissance Baltimore, Atlantic’s Edge at four-diamond resort Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Fla., The Brasserie in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Michaels Genuine in the Design District, Miami. Honing his craft, Chef Niven had the opportunity to experience the farm to table renaissance happening at each location.
Working closely with farmers and purveyors, Patel developed a deeper appreciation for the product coming into the restaurant. He began digging in his back yard, lovingly referred to as RanchoPatel, cultivating greens, fruits and vegetables. It is there that the concept of Ghee, Patel’s restaurant, came to him.

Ghee means PURE and has a symbolic meaning both spiritually and in the kitchen of an Indian home. Ghee encompasses traditional Indian home cooking, ingredient driven using local artisan purveyors. “I want to my guests to walk into Ghee with the sense of entering my home. I want them to feel at home. I want them to smell the aromas and spices and get more engaged in their meal,” said Patel. “One of the things that I always tell my cooks is, ask questions, be inquisitive if you don’t know. I want the same for my guests,” he said. 

“I want to share with my guests what Indian home cooking is,” said Patel. “Spices are tame, they are present to enhance the flavor of the ingredients.”

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By: Jeffery LaLiberte Filed under: Culinary

March 14, 2018

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