Growing up in Idaho, Chef Dana concluded early on that helping his mom cook was a far better choice of chores than cleaning up after all his brothers and sisters. But little did he know then that those hours in the kitchen would later be the beginning of an exciting and rewarding career. In 1984, Chef Dana graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of New York. That year, his first apprenticeship was with the River Café in Brooklyn.
Two years later, his next apprenticeship—giving him a well-rounded and international perspective— was in Vonnas, France, at the renowned George Blanc Restaurant. By 1990, he was back in the United States. This time he had earned the title of Executive Chef at The Brickell Club in Miami, Florida, a restaurant rated three stars by the Miami Herald. That experience poised Chef Dana for further honors as Executive Chef of the South Pointe Seafood House.
Under Chef Dana’s direction, the restaurant was voted “the Best Seafood Restaurant in Miami” by the Miami New Times, as well as featured by notable writer Dave Barry in an article titled “Chef Dana: A guy from Idaho who can cook.” After spending five years at South Pointe, Chef Dana was recruited by Smith & Wollensky to serve as its Executive Sous Chef and open its then-new Miami Beach location in 1997. Today, he serves at the Executive Chef and continues to delight customers (including basketball hero Shaquille O’Neal who “taught” him the correct way to make a PB&J) with his inventive presentations and emphasis on fresh, flavorful food that excites the palate.