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Lisabet “LB” Summa

Executive Culinary Director and Chef Partner

Big Time Restaurant Group

Big Time Restaurant Group brands are south Florida favorites for upscale casual dining.  

The group will grow to 15 restaurants in 2017 when Rocco’s Tacos opens in Tampa and at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and a second Louis Bossi’s Ristorante opens in Boca Raton.

Chef Lisabet Summa has been the culinary catalyst for Big Time Restaurant’s extraordinary growth over the past 15 years.  She is one of only a few women in the US restaurant industry who is both a senior culinary operations executive and owner.  “LB” is responsible for new concept culinary development, design/build of high performance kitchens for each brand, menu development, kitchen profitability, food safety, and the hiring, personnel development, and motivation of more than 600 kitchen professionals.

Two prominent graduates of Summa’s chef development program are Jessie Schenker and Michael Solomonov.  Chef Schenker (formerly of City Cellar) won Food Network’s Iron Chef competition and is now the owner of Recette and The Gander (New York).  Chef Solomonov (formerly of City Oyster) is Chef/Owner of the Cook N Solo Restaurant Group (Philadelphia) and received a 2011 James Beard Best Chef Award while at Zahav (Philadelphia.)

Summa’s culinary expertise has been built during a career that includes working in America’s leading restaurants and with numerous noteworthy chefs including Mario Batali.  

Prior to joining Todd Herbst and Bill Watson at Big Time Restaurant Group twenty years ago, Lisabet Summa worked with Chefs Charlie Trotter and Florida’s Norman Van Aken at Sinclair’s American Grill at Jupiter Beach Resort.  Ms. Summa was head chef at Café L’Europe on Palm Beach and pastry chef at Café St. Honore in Palm Beach Gardens.  She was an instructor at Florida Culinary Institute where students voted her Best Teacher in 1994.

A native of Chicago, Lisabet’s early culinary inspiration came from her mother and grandmother.  Her first professional culinary job was modest.  She served as a line cook at a Chicago diner while attending the Goodman School of Drama.  When a friend returned from attending a European cooking school, Summa’s culinary sights were raised, and she left acting behind.  She selected the French restaurant Alouette as the place she wanted to begin working in the world of haute cuisine.  The all French, all male staff was put off when she knocked on the door and volunteered to work for free, but she won them over quickly and Summa had her first chef’s coat in seven days time.  Later, Summa moved to Chicago’s acclaimed French restaurant, Maxim’s, as pastry chef.

Summa refreshes her culinary repertoire with travel (Italy and Mexico most recently), restaurant research and development at leading US restaurants, voracious industry reading, and referencing current food and lifestyle periodicals, along with her 900+ cookbook library.

Chef Summa lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with her husband, Bill Vernon.

More about Lisabet Summa

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