Miami’s diverse restaurant scene has long offered an array of options for all dining occasions. And thanks to the recent arrival of several internationally renowned chefs and the emergence of new homegrown culinary talent, Miami’s restaurant scene is more exciting today than it’s ever been. Here’s a look at some of the celebrated and in-demand chefs who make the Magic City’s dining scene so superb.
Born and raised in the northern reaches of Thailand, “Chef Bee” Arreeratn is credited with bringing some of South Florida’s best Thai food to Miami. After stints as a sushi chef at Nobu and sous chef to Kevin Cory at Siam River, Chef Bee opened Oishi Thai in 2005. The celebrity chef remains the master behind the magic at Oishi, but he spends more of his time these days at NaiYaRa, the Sunset Harbor restaurant he opened in 2015.
Born and raised in Miami, Michelle Bernstein briefly studied ballet in New York before an injury heralded her return. She enrolled as a student of culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University, and has been a darling of Miami’s culinary scene pretty much ever since. Bernstein was the talent behind Michy’s and Seagrape at Thompson. She also opened popular Design District cafe Crumb on Parchment, and has catered Art Basel Miami each of the last five years. The James Beard Award winner also has her own cookware line and frequently appears on television. She co-hosted the Food Network series Melting Pot and has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. Bernstein is also the founder of Miami’s chapter of Common Threads, an organization committed to battling childhood obesity.
Brooklyn-born chef David Bracha moved to South Florida in 1988. After working with Norman Van Aken and Proal Perry at Hoexter’s Market and Supper Club, Bracha opened 411. The South Beach bistro made Bracha well-known in Miami. Since opening 411 in 1992, Bracha’s brought Miami Fishbone, Jake’s Bar & Grill, Oak Tavern, The River Seafood Oyster Bar in Brickell, and fast-casual concept Local Boy Poke to the area.
Chef Adrianna Calvo was born in Chicago but spent most of her childhood in Miami. After studying culinary arts at Johnson and Wales and training with Patrick Lassaque at Five Diamond Mandarin Oriental, Calvo staged with Thomas Keller and Cindy Pawlcyn in Napa. Calvo’s time in Napa inspired her to open Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar upon her return. More than after opening, Chef Adrianne’s is still one of the hardest places to score a table in the Magic City, especially on “Dark Dining” evenings. The two-time winner of Australia’s “Taste Down Under” food competition has also appeared on television’s Chopped and Food as a Lifestyle.
Soft-spoken chef Kevin Cory would like to keep a low profile. But when you create something as sensational as NAOE, that’s kind of hard. Only 16 people are lucky enough to dine at Kevin Cory’s omakase-style Japanese restaurant each evening. So, if you like seafood, start trying to make reservations. Believed by many to serve the best seafood in Miami, NAOE is one of only 60 restaurants to receive a five-star distinction from Forbes Travel Guide.
Back-to-back nomination for James Beard’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award are rare. But Colombian-born chef Sam Gorenstein, nominated in 2010 and 2011, is exceedingly accomplished for a 33-year-old in the industry. Gorenstein’s worked under Laurent Tourondel in New York and Michael Schwartz in Miami. He’s served as chef de cuisine at BLT Steak and executive chef for Miami’s Raleigh Hotel. And in 2012, Gorenstein opened seafood shack My Ceviche in SoFi. The affordable, wildly popular seafood restaurant has expanded to six locations, and Sam Gorenstein’s star power has skyrocketed. Residents of AMLI’s Dadeland apartment rentals live a five-minute drive from the South Miami outpost. Sam’s latest venture is Brickell Mediterranean kitchen Zuuk.
This list would not be complete without outstanding chef and savvy businessman Michael Schwarz. Any Miami residents unfamiliar with Schwartz prior to 2007 knew his name after he opened Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami’s Design District. In 2008, New York Times food critic Frank Bruni named Michael’s Genuine the fourth best new restaurant in the country. Schwartz’ other ventures include Cypress Tavern, Harry’s Pizzeria, and Restaurant Michael Schwartz at The Raleigh Hotel. Most recently, he opened Amare at Paraiso, a Latin-inspired restaurant with a menu prepared by two of Argentina’s most beloved chefs.
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