Chef Christopher Li is a Miami native with an undeniable passion for creating inspiring dishes. A former public-school teacher-turned professional cook, Li has always nurtured a love for learning which led him to begin his self-taught career in New York City as a Line Cook at ABC Kitchen by Jean-Georges. There he was exposed to a wide selection of rustic, homegrown flavors and cooking styles as well as classic techniques.
Looking to expand his culinary techniques, Li seized the opportunity to take on several culinary roles at recognizable restaurants in New York including Daniel and Commerce, an established and bustling American Brasserie in a historical space in Greenwich Village.
Li is committed to applying his culminated knowledge of worldly cuisine to the beloved Italian eatery. He is fortunate to have been mentored by the best and his attention to teaching and learning is a core value that has carried him through this profession. “Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a bit of a culmination for me, being a Miami native; I definitely feel like I’m on a ‘big stage’ in my hometown” says Li.
What prepared you for this role?
Years of cooking and managing kitchens in New York and Miami; Committing my share of mistakes and learning from them along the way; I was fortunate enough to have a mentor at each step in my career. Being a new parent had also prepared me for the challenges that comes with being a manager.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My wife. Her commitment to being a mother is absolute.
Where have you traveled & lived around the world?
I backpacked through Mexico for four weeks years ago; I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. And mostly recently I had the opportunity to visit California and Virginia.
Basketball, the Miami Heat, good movies and shows, politics and history, reading books about chefs.
Where did you grow up, brothers and sisters?
Little Havana and Kendall. I have one sister.
BA in Latin American Studies with a minor in English from NYU. Masters In Teaching English Education From the University of Pittsburgh. Coral Gables Senior High. No culinary school.
The three qualities that got me where I am today
Commitment to the long process of learning culinary fundamentals; patience and persistence in teaching others; persistence and grit in general. My wife would say stubbornness.
Kind of work I’d do for free
Write commentary articles about the industry, its’ politics and issues
Favorite perk of the job
Developing relationships with so many talented and experienced professionals and being exposed to such operational variety at Fontainebleau®.
Anything interesting that you would like our guests to know about you?
I’m a father of two. My two-year-old daughter Charlotte is more talkative than me.
How long have you been in this industry?
My first job was in 2001 at a sub shop in South Miami. I worked there on and off until 2007 when I stopped teaching and decided to cook full-time. Over 12 years professionally.
Best career advice I’ve gotten
“If you don’t know how to butcher, you have no business being a sous chef”
Change I’d like to see in my industry
Health coverage and maternity leave be available to all restaurant workers no matter how large or small the business.
Who I admire and why
Thomas Keller. He nurtured the careers of so many chefs who carry on the legacy of teaching and developing professionals.
Last thing I binge watched
Jack Ryan Season 2
If I could live in a foreign country, it would be
On my bucket list
To visit the Pacific Northwest
For a taste of Chef Christopher Li’s fine cuisine, visit him at Scarpetta by Scott Conant.