2016 South Florida Rising Star Chef William Crandall of Izzy's Fish & Oyster

2016 South Florida Rising Star Chef William Crandall of Izzy's Fish & Oyster
April 2016

Originally from Northern Illinois, William Crandall grew up on a farm surrounded by cow pastures and cornfields. But his introduction to the restaurant industry had less to do with sweat and heat, and more to do with style and a smile. Crandall started as a host, but he loathed the front of house position so much that he requested to be a dishwasher. His first job as a cook was at a small bistro, nothing fancy, but young Crandall was impressed by all the product made in-house, and he began to see a future for himself in food.  

In 2004, Crandall enrolled in the culinary arts program at Kendall College in Chicago, and he got his first post-graduation gig at NoMi in the Park Hyatt. There from 2008 to 2011, Crandall cooked during part of Rising Star Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s tenure, a chef he considers a mentor. After that formative experience, he was ready to make the move to Miami as sous chef of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, where he eventually rose to chef de cuisine.

In 2015, Crandall made another transition, to Chef Jamie DeRosa’s New England- inspired Izzy’s Fish and Oyster, a concept that’s set to grow across Florida. Crandall also co-founded a club for chefs to gather once a month and share a family meal, a simple concept that has deepened ties within the professional community. With Crandall’s talent and leadership, Miami is becoming a more sustainable and welcoming place for cooks to live, stay, eat, and grow. 


Interview with South Florida Rising Star Community Chef William Crandall of Izzy's Fish and Oyster

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
William Crandall:
My first industry job was as a host. I hated working FOH and requested to be a dishwasher. My first real job at a nice restaurant was a bistro outside my hometown. It wasn’t fancy, but they made everything from scratch. It was kind of a steakhouse bistro. After that, I figured why not make a career out if it? 

CH: Who’s your mentor?
I have two: My first one is Andrew Zimmerman. He’s my mentor. He’s the man. After that was Ryan LaRoche. He was at Blue Duck Tavern.

CH: Why did you move to Miami?
Honestly, the city was exploding with ideas. It had flavors that not a lot of people outside of Miami were being exposed to. I thought it would be fun. My wife’s family is from here; she went to high school here. It was a good move professionally. 

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I have a family meal that includes 23 chefs from around the city. I do it once a month—it rotates through location and theme. It was me and Eric Saltzman who founded it. Taquiza is in the group, as is Ms. Cheezious. We’re like: “let’s do a Caja China turkey for Thanksgiving, Italian at my place.” A lot of us don’t have family down here.

CH: What’s the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Space. I’m a big guy, and it’s a small restaurant. I hit my head a lot.

CH: What is the hardest thing you’ve faced as a chef?
Opening this restaurant. We had to do it by ourselves. I had to worry about everything from licensing, food orders, and containers to whether the staff was going to show up. I treat it as if I owned more than a tiny part. 

CH: What’s your five-year plan?
To have Izzy’s all over Florida and to have different concepts that focus on Florida food, whether it’s seafood or not. We want to roll out with more Izzy’s at different locations and generate different ideas of what fits Florida well. I’ve seen lots of concepts in Miami that don’t work. We’re in negotiations to open one in the Keys and Fort Meyers.