Maxine’s, veteran chef focus on seafood.
Behind the scenes at Maxine’s on Shine, a Swiss chef, a former wine salesman and a flamboyant pillow designer are aspiring to transform a local neighborhood restaurant into a place of seafood excellence.
Ex-wine salesman Kirt Earhart bought the former Shine Neighborhood Kitchen in 2012, remaking the Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of a residential area into a quirky eatery featuring interesting food and nightly entertainment. And there was the presence of Shelly “Maxine” Earhart, recognizable from the restaurant’s caricature logo, who could be found chatting with diners most nights.
Three years and three chefs later, enter George Vogelbacher. A 2013 Orlando magazine Dining Hall of Fame inductee, Vogelbacher is a local legend from his restaurants Le Cordon Bleu, Nicole St. Pierre and Winter Park Fish Company. When the 73-year-old chef parted ways with WPFC, everyone assumed that a much-threatened retirement had finally arrived. Everyone but Vogelbacher.
“George sat at our bar,” Kirt Earhart says, “and suggested improvements to the kitchen.” Suggestions led to consulting, and since July he has been plying his encyclopedic knowledge of seafood full time in the tiny kitchen, attracting seasoned Chef George followers to Maxine’s.
“This is the first time George isn’t the owner or partner,” Earhart says. “Working in a kitchen and not having to worry about running the place—for George, that is retirement.”