Chris Miracolo

Executive chef, Max’s Harvest

Background: Chris Miracolo has been cooking for 20 years, starting at his parents’ Long Island hospital diner and including a string of pizza places. But it was his culinary epiphany, during a dinner at Norman’s in Coral Gables when he was 20 (“I was just really shocked at how good food could be.”), that led him on a journey from Miami to Dallas to Denver, and, ultimately, into the kitchen at Max’s Grille in Boca. A year ago, he opened Max’s Harvest to rave reviews; the Delray restaurant is regarded as one of South Florida’s top farm-to-table dining experiences.

How he is making a difference: Miracolo likens the farm-to-table platform and all it entails to a “new-found religion” that has changed his life—and will ultimately reduce the carbon footprint in South Florida. He is “maniacal” about recycling, he’s learning about new types of locally grown vegetables, and he advocates for local farmers. “We have a genuine interest in cooking right, eating right, respecting the land and understanding the entire scope of what goes into doing that,” he says. “Buying locally cuts down on our carbon footprint. There are fewer fossil fuels needed to transport the food, fewer chemicals put into your food to give it shelf life, and you are supporting the local economy. ... We have to start looking toward the future and making sure we can cultivate our own local agricultural economy.”

What the future holds: Miracolo says he could not have predicted the success of Max’s Harvest and the passion of the staff—or how the farm-to-table concept has opened him up to new ways of using fresh foods. The next step would be going full-on back to the farm, if he had his way. “I would eventually like to incorporate some sort of working farm onto a restaurant, something I could design from the ground up and truly see what it’s like to grow the food, to have the animals providing the dairy. That would be utopia.”