Miami’s pride, Chef Raymond Li, is a household name in the food industry whose achievements speak not only of his expertise and talents in the kitchen but also of the odds he’s managed to overcome in his journey to success. With a new chapter about to begin in his professional career, he is set to cement his reputation even more solidly.
Bearing a story that resonates with countless others, this Florida native hails from a family of immigrants. Together with this Colombian mother and Cuban-Chinese father, he led a relatively normal life in Kendall. But during his mid teens, Raymond Li hit major bumps after making ill-informed decisions fueled by the desire to attain the finer things in life. “Since young I was attracted to money, so in high school, selling Xanax and weed seemed like a good idea,” he recalled. “Getting involved on the streets evolutioned from playing cee-lo in middle school and turning into transporting large amounts of cocaine before graduation.”
With probation under his belt due to a few other run-ins with the law, Raymond Li wasn’t afforded a bond when a drive-by shooting incident pushed him toward rock bottom. Arrested and charged with a second-degree felony in 2008, he spent eight months at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and then finished his one-year sentence at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.
Upon his release in 2009, the now well-accomplished chef poured his heart into turning things around. While numerous roadblocks—from witnessing his mother deal with liver disease to receiving rejection letters—still stood in his way, he barrelled through every barrier, emerging as a renowned chef with an impressive portfolio attached to his name. In May 2020, he launched Li’s Dim Sum & More, a take-out-only pop-up venture that operated under the overarching goal to “touch the hearts” of their guests through bold and unique flavors that marry everything good family tradition and modern gastronomy has to offer.
For months, Li’s Dim Sum & More satisfied the palates of locals and tourists. Although its run in the Florida scene has ended with its closure, it continues to bring Raymond Li accolades. Today, this highly recognized chef is proud to announce another bold move in the restaurant industry. A new addition to the roster of talents and professionals at Lost Boy & Co., the newly appointed executive chef for the upcoming Andalusian tapas and gin restaurant Tropezón is ready to reach greater heights. Scheduled to open in November, Tropezón will fill the stomachs of the thousands of locals/tourist who strut down Española Way and love Miami Beach.
Raymond Li, who received four stars from the Miami Herald as a nod to his strategic leadership at the Miami-inspired Chinese restaurant Palmar in late 2018, is expected to make bigger waves in the years to come. Armed with big plans, one of which is to create a cooking show with his 3-year-old son, he’s bound to remain in the Miami limelight as one of its most inspirational and competent chefs. Learn more about Raymond Li by visiting his Instagram page.