After a Decade, Las Olas' Johnny V Is Still the Boss of the Boulevard
Eventually he became interested in fine dining and looked up to Norman Van Aken, known as the founding father of New World Cuisine, and Dennis Max, whom he calls "the man." He moonlighted at Van Aken's Amano on South Beach and one day walked into Maxaluna in Boca Raton, more or less to demand a job from owner Max.
CandaceWest.com Grilled Hatfield Farms center-cut pork chop: with sweet potato hash, baby green beans wrapped in jamón serrano, a chunky apple sauce, and cranberrry sorbet.
"He said. 'We're not just going to hire you off the street,' " Vinczencz recalled. " 'You're going to have to work your way up to a sous chef.' "
A year later, Max fulfilled his promise and tapped Vinczencz to run a soon-to-open North Miami Beach restaurant. At the same time, the chic Astor Place Restaurant on South Beach was opening and looking for someone to lead the kitchen. Vinczencz took the gig and earned himself the nickname the "Caribbean Cowboy" for his combination of tropical ingredients and New American cooking.
In 2002, he opened De La Tierra in Delray Beach's Sundy House and the next year threw off the yolk of running other people's restaurants and opened Johnny V. He's happy.
"I don't want to be the supervisor of numerous chefs," he says. "I want to have my hands in the food."
He's constantly experimenting. At lunch, "we never know what we're going to do," he says. A $29 center-cut pork chop served with sweet potato hash, baby green beans, and chunky apple sauce is a letdown because "it sells mediocrely," he says.
One-third of his menu is made up of the classics, while the rest is subject to change with the seasons and trends. His "Bacon, Eggs, and Toast" ($13) pairs the ingredient du jour, pork belly, with fried quail eggs and fig marmalade on toasted points.