October 13, 2005
By Maria Sonnenberg

   Local restaurateur Alex Litras recently took over as president of the Cape Canaveral/Space Coast Chapter of a la Chaine des Rotisseurss.
Being the owner of a much-celebrated gourmet restaurant will surely help Litras in his new position.  For three years in a row, Litras’ Café Margaux in Cocoa Village has been the only restaurant in Brevard County to receive Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Award.  This year brought even greater recognition when Café Margaux was one of only five restaurants in Florida to receive the DiRoNA Award of Excellence for Distinguished Restaurants in North America.
Litras discussed his plans for the local la Chaine chapter.
How does being the owner of a gourmet restaurant help you in your role as chapter president?
In setting up events, it’s helpful if you can speak the same languages as chefs and restaurant managers.  I come to them as a fellow restaurateur – one of them – rather than the president of a gourmet club asking for the world.  I understand their challenges, so when I ask them to do things out of the ordinary and extra special, I can acknowledge the sacrifices they’re making and the extra work I am causing them, and hopefully, give them good reasons to do it.
The best reason for a restaurant to host a la Chaine event is to show off the talents of the chefs and service staff, which are many times stifled by the need for menus that are crowd-pleasers.  For a la Chaine event, chefs can be their most artistic and creative, writing a menu for an adventurous and appreciative audience.
   Does it hinder you in any way?
Fortunately, I consider all of the restaurants in Brevard County friendly competition.  There is usually a mutual respect when we discuss food and wine ideas.  The only hindrance is time.  My plate is full.
What would be your ideal for the chapter?
   I am looking to build on our current membership, adding a few more people who share our passion for great food and wine.  Hoping each event will surpass the next, with a board of directors more culturally educated and traveled than myself, we can help take the chapter to new heights.  We have to shoot for world class, and with the help of the board and the participation of all the members, we will continually improve the quality.  The ideal is to attract members from other chapters to attend events.
What has been the most exciting event you attended as a member of la Chaine?
   This past event at Seasons 52 Development Kitchen ( in Orlando) certainly rates very, very high on the list.  The food was creative and multifaceted, and the wines were of exceptional quality and quite rare.  Prior to that, some of the most opulent events have been on cruise ships.  These are usually Saturday or Sunday afternoon events on the Carnival Glory or Fantasy, where the chefs pull out all the stops – incredible ice carvings, creative and striking canapés and hor d’oeuvres, and a great five- or six- course dinner paired with fine wines.
Is it difficult to run a gourmet group like la Chaine in Brevard?
   Brevard is a bit more challenging than running the group in a major market where there are more venues to choose from.  And many of the restaurants in this area have smaller dining rooms, making it harder to have functions for 40 of 50 guests without closing them down for a night.  But, I find local restaurateurs to be more passionate about their craft than those in larger cities.  As for the member base, there is a higher level of sophistication in Brevard that you might think, and la Chaine represents the epitome of the educated diner.
Your restaurant is one of only two in Brevard to be recognized by la Chaine.  What does that mean to the general dining public?
Part of my job will be to work with local restaurateurs more closely to cultivate additional professional members.  There may be some restaurants that the group has reached out to in the past that chose not to come into the organization.  I would not assume that a nonmember restaurant is of lesser quality.  We will be reaching out to them and giving them reasons to belong.  The society offers great regional and national events that are open to all members, and the camaraderie of traveling with professionals is outstanding and helps us learn from these artists.