Hardy Park Bistro: Upscale Cuisine for Fort Lauderdale Landlubbers

Hardy Park Bistro's chef-owner Philip Darmon, an Australian native, has charted a unique course through the culinary world, guided in no small part by coincidence and fate. About 11 years ago, he was working as a chef in high-end Sydney restaurants when he lost a close friend to suicide. The traumatic event led Darmon to question life and the meaning of it. While he was mourning and talking with mates and the family of his deceased friend at the parents' home, he received a call from another friend, a captain, offering him a job cooking on a motor yacht.

Three weeks later, he packed up his knives -- as well as his entire life -- and ended up cooking in the galley of a yacht moored in Saint Thomas.

"My friend had been trying to get me to get into the industry for ages," said Darmon. "I was resistant; I had worked my way up in restaurants and was making what I thought was great money, but I never felt like the timing was right. There I was talking about life and I got this phone call. Making that switch was the best thing I ever did."

A few years into his travels and newfound career, Darmon ran into an attractive brunette serving beer, his future wife Jessica Rossitto. But it wasn't until a second coincidental meeting that Rossitto agreed to dinner. They've been together for more than eight years.

Darmon and Rossitto always planned on getting married and opening a restaurant in town, but it was all about timing.

"Three months ago, I was in Tahiti working on a nine-month rotation," Darmon says. "I was sick for a week, and it was absolutely terrible. I rang Jessica and said, 'I think we're ready to go.' She agreed, and I put in my notice."

Three weeks after signing the lease on the space near Florence C. Hardy Park in Fort Lauderdale, Darmon unlocked the doors to Hardy Park Bistro for a soft opening November 29.

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