By Doc Lawrence

Lenore Nolan-Ryan continues to enjoy the best of everything. She was born in Miami Beach; during whimsical childhood days, she spent storybook time at her dad’s casino in pre-Castro Havana, learned to cook and sing from a mother she adores, and, after years in the Bay area around San Francisco, chose to live in our paradise and own one of the region’s most popular cafes and highly-regarded catering businesses.

Never content with status quo, Lenore, the quintessential high-energy entrepreneur has embarked on new horizons with even bigger goals brimming with excitement and electricity. Someday “very, very soon,” Lenore revealed, studio taping sessions will begin for a national television debut of a cooking show titled, “The Singing Chef,” a unique “Food Network format” before a live audience. There is, however, an original twist. Lenore will be singing. “I have a good voice and sing anyway when I’m cooking. Out of the blue, a television producer heard about me and came knocking on the café door. We reached an agreement and we should be starting up shortly.”

With a voice containing equal portions of Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Celine Deion combined with Lenore’s culinary talent and stage presence, “The Singing Chef,” has significant upfront momentum, perhaps more than many established celebrity chef programs enjoyed at their inception. “We are excited and believe the show will be very well received by television audiences and viewers,” Lenore said.

Gina Lenore’s Café has become a prominent South Florida landmark, Fort Lauderdale’s unofficial culinary headquarters where locals and visitors enjoy imaginative dishes prepared and served with generous portions of love songs, Broadway standards, laughter and omnipresent good will. Customer favorites include tuna lime salad, “better than mom’s” chicken salad, grilled eggplant parmigiana and the South Florida legend, Lenore’s homemade meatloaf sandwich. Everything is served on freshly baked bread.

Gina Lenore’s Cafe was originally a pizza restaurant. As a new owner, Lenore decided to keep the name Gina and combine it with hers, while adding a greatly expanded menu to accommodate a diverse customer base and satisfy sophisticated taste preferences. “I am part of a solid cooking heritage, “ said Lenore, “where excellence was only the beginning point. That means the freshest ingredients, hands-on kitchen preparation under my supervision, and an elegant presentation that symbolically tells every customer they are deeply appreciated.”

Lenore has earned a reputation as one of the region’s most acclaimed caterers. “I never use chafing dishes,” she explains. “My bowls, serving trays and utensils are beautiful—never generic-- and enhance the overall dining experience. Our catering environment is always equal to our highest kitchen and presentation standards.” In addition, Lenore has the remarkable advantage of wine and food pairing expertise and decorates dinner tables with panache.

Lenore said that her success is based on fundamentals. “Just imagine what an entrée would become if a basic spice or herb was negligently omitted or disproportionately included. That will never happen in our kitchen. High standards create happy customers and repeat business”

Her love of food, appreciation for fine lifestyles and gift of song are all attributed by Lenore to her parents. “My dad’s name was Duke Nolan. He was handsome and refined. My mother is straight out of a classic Hollywood movie—a glamorous and stylish lady who loves fabulous music.”

Whether in the kitchen, at a client’s dinner party or relaxing with friends, Lenore honors her rich heritage. She also thrives on new challenges. If the prospects of a television cooking show are daunting, it doesn’t show. “I was literally raised in a show business environment. If I had not chosen cooking when I was 18, I would have gone into music and acting.”

Lenore’s loyal and talented staff reflects sound management and visionary leadership. Her customer base is large and impressively loyal. As a generous and productive citizen, she has few peers.

Will Lenore leave her paradise when “The Singing Chef” becomes a television hit? “This is home,” responded Lenore. “ We might even do a few shows here in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. I’d love to share our paradise with the entire country, and show them how to live better with great food, fine wine and wonderful songs.”

Gina Lenore's Café
228 E. Commercial Boulevard
Phone: 954-491-2340;
local delivery.

Visit the Lenore Nolan-Ryan Cooking School & Catering Company located in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida to sample Lenore's culinary magic online! Then sign up for some of her cooking classes! Your tummy will thank you and so will your guests. Remember, as Lenore always says, "The art of entertaining is knowing who to call. Click the signature to visit Lenore's own website:

Published Sunday, August. 31, 2003 in The Miami Herald (reprinted with permission):

Fresh cooking, fresh ideas
at Gina Lenore's


''Hi darlin','' Leonore Nolan-Ryan calls out as a customer walks through the door of this tiny cafe. Former town official Jim Pollock, now chaplain for Lauderdale-by-the-Sea's Fire Department, is one of the many who stop by daily to see what's cooking.

''I love the shrimp scampi pizza,'' he says, ogling the daily lineup of gourmet pies at Gina Lenore's Café on Commercial Boulevard: double-crusted vegetable focaccia; jerk chicken; chicken Parmesan; roasted garlic.
''Everything's always fresh and she's always cooking something different,'' said Pollock.

It's been Nolan-Ryan's passion. Born in Miami Beach, she spent 20 years in the restaurant-catering business in San Francisco. She returned to South Florida five years ago and bought Gina's Café, adding her name.

Homemade soups (like chicken broth spiked with lime and cilantro, served with fried tortilla sticks) are simmering on the stove, the display case holds flavorful salads and she whips up sandwiches like grilled eggplant Parmigiana and tuna lime salad.

But first the pizza, which held up well on the trip home. The jerk chicken ($2.50 a slice), had a nice kick, garnished with carrots and fresh greens dressed with a little lime juice, canola oil and cilantro. Ultra-thin tomato slices sprinkled with basil graced the creamy ricotta-mozzarella-Parmesan pie ($2.50). And the shrimp scampi ($3.50) is a rich treat, teamed with chopped scallions.

Other highlights: a beefy, cheesy meatball parm sub; smoky grilled eggplant and peppers and delicious desserts.

Devouring a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie, a 13-year-old confessed, ``On a scale of one to 10, I give this a 15.''


Follow the arrow to learn more about the handcrafted cheeses of Sweet Grass Dairy . . .

or . . . . . . wines from North Georgia's Three Sisters Vineyard.

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