historic kitchen Farm-style sink located in the historic kitchen at Vizcaya. Photo by Alex Serna

An ordinary part of an extraordinary home

The kitchen at Vizcaya, found on the second floor near the Breakfast Room, is one location on the Estate where guests can encounter the commonplace in this exceptional home. Few of us have homes with such opulent decorations, but most homes have kitchens, and some of us even know how to cook! Visitors can imagine themselves in Vizcaya’s kitchen because cooking is an experience we share. We don’t know if James Deering ever whipped up a midnight snack for himself, however, we do know that he employed a French chef to travel with him and cook for his guests. Learn about him and check out the historic kitchen tour at the end.

From Paris to Miami

Theophile Cazes was a French chef who first worked for James Deering in Paris during the summer of 1920. Mr. Deering was so pleased with his work that he offered to move the entire Cazes family to the United States with him. The family, Theo and Camille and their two children, Jeannine and Roland, arrived in Miami in November 1920 and lived at Vizcaya Village in the Gate Lodge.

Traveling with Deering and a memorable childhood experience

In the 1980s, Vizcaya Curator Doris Littlefield corresponded with the Cazes children and recorded memories that she shared in a 1989 article. According to that article, in the 1920s, Mr. Deering enrolled 13-year-old Roland and 8-year-old Jeannine Cazes in a local parochial school and arranged for an English-language tutor to ease their transition to life in America. The children were given the run of the estate, as long as they did not disturb the men who were still at work on the gardens. Jeannine kept pet rabbits and Roland would ride his bicycle throughout the estate after school each day. On Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, when the public was invited to tour part of the grounds, Roland was allowed to help direct traffic and guide guests.

It’s not known when the Cazes family stopped working for Mr. Deering, though we know from the diary kept by Estate Manager Frank Landon McGinnis that in 1922 they were in his employ. In that diary, Mr. McGinnis notes when they arrived at Vizcaya and also when they left for Chicago for the season, following Mr. Deering on his annual travels.

When you see the kitchen at Vizcaya, think of all the delicious meals that were prepared in that space, and also think of the family who brought French sophistication to this Italian-inspired estate in America.

Take a Video Tour of the Kitchen

Check out the chef’s old haunts and take a video tour of this historic kitchen below.