Best Chef

David Lani

Naples Illustrated's Dining Awards - Best Chef - Chef David Lani - 7th Avenue Social

Photo by Vanessa Rogers

Having cooked with and learned from celebrity chefs from Jean-Jacques Rachou to Wolfgang Puck, David M. Lani (right) brings a well-rounded portfolio and a penchant for creative and artful cuisine to 7th Avenue Social (239-231-4553).

   Along with the experience gained from working in name restaurants across the country, he incorporates talents developed in his mother’s Italian kitchen in New York and expertise learned from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He says Southern cuisine, his current favorite foodie trend, influences his cooking at 7th Avenue with “heart and soul.”

   His on-the-job training began as an extern at CIA, working at The Parsonage in New York. His post-graduate track record includes stints with legendary Rachou at Manhattan’s La Côte Basque, David Burke at the Park Avenue Café, and Charlie Palmer at Aureole Las Vegas in Mandalay Bay Resort. He worked as senior line cook at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio Bar & Grill in the Venetian Las Vegas and as chef and trainer for Wolfgang Puck Express. Puck, he says, made a huge impact on his career, teaching him to treat employees kindly.

7th Avenue Social's yucca planks, short rib chili, queso sauce, pico, and poblano crema

7th Avenue Social’s yucca planks, short rib chili, queso sauce, pico, and poblano crema.

   Other positions have included head banquet chef at Forsgate Country Club in New Jersey and executive chef at Amarone Ristorante in New York’s Theater District. Lani’s last gig was opening, as the executive chef, SkinnyFATS in Las Vegas, which the Las Vegas Review-Journal voted Best New Restaurant in 2014. The chef recently moved to the Naples area.

   “I was looking to relocate to get closer to my family in Fort Lauderdale, so I put my resume out there and [owner Colin Estrem] found me,” Lani says. “We immediately found common ground—a passion for cooking.”


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Naples Illustrated's Dining Awards - the best restaurants, dishes and cuisine in Naples, the Paradise Coast and Southwest Florida


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