Chef Confidential

In a city filled with glitz and glam, sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and enjoy a good meal, some drinks and a relaxing atmosphere with friends. The chefs we’ve gathered on the ensuing pages will make your tastebuds dance and your senses rejoice — one bite or sip at a time no matter in which part of town you find yourself dining.
Compiled by David C. Cleland Profile photos: Andres Hernandez Food photos: respective establishments | July 1, 2018 | People

Bjoern Weissgerber
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way

Education: Various experiences at 3- Michelin star restaurants.
Culinary style: Modern Japanese, Izakaya-style with simplicity and integrity.
The menu: Simple yet interesting, respectful of the Japanese culinary culture yet bringing a vibrant modern twist.
The vibe: Contemporary, stylish, sleek — lively, informal and never pretentious.
Most popular dish: Spicy Beef Tenderloin, O-Toro Sashimi & Spicy Yellowtail Roll.
Most ordered drink: Rubabu Martini.
Favorite part of the job? “Embracing challenges, bringing cultures & characters together, creating dishes & atmosphere.”
Most challenging? “Not being able to find time to explore Miami and find out what it’s all about! Aside from this, challenges are good…they keep us switched on!”
Best compliment ever? “One of the more memorable was when a waiter got a compliment from a costumer that “The food was so sexy, I know I’ll get laid tonight!”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “To keep our guests excited and coming back!”
Must-try dish: TunaTataki w/ Chili & Ginger Braised Red Onion, Ponzu Sauce & Garlic Chips.

Tim Nickey
La Gorce Country Club
5685 Alton Rd., Miami Beach

Education: Johnson & Wales, Miami.
Culinary style: A steakhouse feel with an Asian-Caribbean influence.
The menu: It’s not the typical country club options.
The vibe: Very exclusive; it’s one of toughest reservations to get in Miami.
Most popular dish: Tuna Poke & Avocado Tacos.
Most popular drink: Wine.
Favorite part of the job? “I absolutely love the creativity I get to showcase every day.”
Most challenging? “The most difficult part of the job is overseeing multiple outlets and events at the same time.”
Best compliment ever? “I once had a patron ask me why I didn’t have my own restaurant!”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “I want to help make La Gorce the #1 venue in Miami Beach to have a wedding or special event.”
Must-try dish: Local Swordfish, Grilled Halloumi, Nueske Bacon, Melon Salad, Passion Fruit, Vinaigrette.

Roger Barrios
Perricone’s Marketplace & Café
15 SE 10th St.

Education: The Culinary Institute of America.
Culinary style: Eclectic.
The menu: Great mix of offerings for just about any mood all day and night.
The vibe: Casual with high-energy.
Most popular dish: Fresh Seafood & Pasta.
Most popular drink: Wine.
Favorite Part Of The Job? “Making people happy through their dining experience.”
Most challenging? “Continuing to be innovative and cutting-edge.”
Best complement ever? “When a guest told us that coming to lunch was like a mini-vacation.”
Plans for 2011 & beyond: “We plan to continue doing what we’ve been doing for the past 15 years: providing great fresh food at reasonable prices in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.”
Must-try dish: Baked Brie En Croute, Whole Baked Brie, Crispy Puff Pastry, Warm Apricot Glaze Drizzle, Fresh Fruits, Crackers.

Jonathan McCann
Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room
1395 Brickell Ave., 25th Floor

Education: Bournemouth College, UK.
Culinary style: Modern-contemporary.
The menu: Serious focus on flavorful, taste-driven dishes made with natural and local ingredients. There’s also an emphasis on giving a Miami twist to traditional dishes.
The vibe: Relaxed, modern, chic…with amazing views of the city and Biscayne Bay from the 25th Level of the Conrad Miami Hotel.
Most popular dish: Pan-Fried Arctic Char w/ Cannellini Beans, Chorizo & Caramelized Garlic.
Most popular drink: Skim Rose, a perfect combination of Belvedere Vodka, Prosecco & Cranberry Juice.
Favorite part of the job? “I enjoy training young cooks. The ability to inspire the younger generation and see their progress and development feels great.”
Most challenging? “In this business you have to be innovative. The most challenging part is to keep the menu fresh and be ahead of trends.”
Best compliment ever? “For me, the best compliment is just seeing return customers. There’s nothing better than regular clients who come and enjoy not only the food but the whole dining experience.”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “We want to get more exposure in the local market…One of the obstacles we encounter at Atrio is that people don’t know we are on the 25th Level of the Conrad Miami Hotel. We have a great menu and we are positive that once they visit, they will return…it’s just a matter of letting them know we are here!”
Must-try dish: Pan-Fried Arctic Char, Cannellini Beans, Chorizo, Carmelized Garlic.

Paula DaSilva
4525 Collins Ave.

Education: The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Culinary style: Elegant with a touch of rustic that’s natural, clean and simple.
The menu: Something for everyone — from great seafood to steaks, small plates and a variety of fresh salads and appetizers, tons of sides dishes and a Chef’s Tasting menu.
The vibe: Romantic with low lights and candles, contemporary music and an energetic staff.
Most popular dish: Sides of charred brussels sprouts made with grain mustard and crème fraiche.
Most popular drink: The Eden.
Favorite part of the job? “The adrenaline rush of a busy service and every plate of food being cooked perfectly and looking sharp.”
Most challenging? “Motivating people that don’t want to be motivated or pushed to make improvements and become better.”
Best compliment ever? “A guest thanked me for making his meal ‘simply delicious’…he loved how all the flavors came through without too much fuss and said that everything was cooked and seasoned perfectly. He was a real foodie and loves to cook so he asked me to give him a tour of the kitchen and garden. He left pretty happy!”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “We want to participate in several food and wine events while hosting special dinners in the restaurant in order to continue to grow our local clientele.”
Must-try dish: Vidalia stuffed w/ Potato Gratin.

Jarrod Verbiak
db Bistro Moderne
255 Biscayne Blvd. Way
@ JW Marriott Marquis

Education: The Culinary Institute of America.
Culinary style: It’s not fussy. It’s satisfying with a French-American twist based on a real respect for ingredients.
The menu: You can approach db Bistro from different ways…either by sharing some of their tasting plates such as the “Assiette de Fruit de Mer,” “Assiette Provençale” or “Assiette Lyonnaise“ — or by digging in to 3 courses of deliciously classic bistro fare.
The vibe: High standards juxtapose against a very warm and welcoming environment with the ambiance evolving between sunny lunches and sophisticated dinners.
Most popular dish: I’d have to say it’s the classics: Oysters and shellfish to start, then Escargot Persillade w/ Potato Croquetees & the irresistible Crispy Duck Confit.
Most popular drink: Grapefruit Blossom w/ St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Pink Grapefruit Juice & Citrus Vodka.
Favorite part of the job? “Cooking above all, and also shaping the careers and skills of the young cooks in my kitchen. Every once in a while, if we have a lull, I can really take our cooks in hand and show them a few tricks. It’s especially fun when you have a table of restaurant owners or chefs in, people you know you can cook a little something different for.”
Most challenging? “Maintaining consistent quality 24/7. We have some young, ambitious cooks eager to contribute and make their mark. I want to help them shine and express themselves, but it can’t be a free-for-all!”
Best compliment ever? “It was for my Tripe à la Portuguaise. It’s not the dish we sell the most, but it appeals to a sophisticated European & Latin audience. Nothing made me happier than the Colombian guest who told me it took him back to his mom’s table!”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “We’re still working through the first six months of a new restaurant, so we continue to solidify and train the team. We’re putting down the roots that will make us solid members of Miami’s culinary word. We’re also focusing on our shared plates in the Bar & Lounge.”
Must-try dish: Salade du Marche Market Vegetable Selection, Romaine Cervelle DeCanut, Mustard Vinaigrette.

Jeffrey Hundelt
777 Brickell Ave., Ste. 100
Miami, FL 33131

Education: The Texas Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu.
Culinary style: Classic, timeless dishes that emphasize seafood and fresh, high-quality ingredients.
The menu: Truluck’s owns their own stone crab fisheries and do their best to deliver as much fresh crab as possible. They only use the best ingredients throughout simple, approachable dishes.
The vibe: Lively, vibrant and romantic.
Most popular dish: Miso-Glazed Sea Bass, caramelized and roasted, served over Crab Fried Rice.
Most popular drink: Lychee Martini w/ Stoli Vanilla, Soho Lychee Liquor & Chambord
Favorite part of the job? “I like getting the opportunity to meet with and talk to some of the people who produce food for the restaurant.”
Most challenging? “Securing product by fighting to get our hands on only the best, highest-quality ingredients.”
Best compliment ever? “I was asked to visit a table where a couple who had already returned to the restaurant numerous times was raving about the trout dish — they wanted me to know that they had been impressed each time they dined.”
Goals for 2011 and beyond: “We are aiming to become the best overall restaurant in the Miami dining scene.”
Must-try dish: Sesame-Crusted Hawaiian Tuna w/ Tamari Wine Sauce & Parmesan Mashed Potatoes.

Pratap Rathore
Mint Leaf Indian Brasserie
276 Alhambra Circle

Education: Food & Catering Institute, Ajmer, India.
Culinary style: North Indian Mughai.
The menu: Freshly cooked when ordered with spices perfectly adjusted to complement Miami’s weather.
The vibe: Vibrant.
Most popular dish: Karahi Lamb.
Most popular drink: Mango Lassi.
Favorite part of the job? “It would definitely have to be creating new dishes that please our customers.”
Most challenging? “We always strive to make sure we’re pleasing the majority of the guests who dine at our restaurant, no matter what it takes.”
Best compliment ever? “We love it when our guests thank us for creating dishes for them which are not on the menu. They really appreciate that extra touch.”
Goals for 2011 & beyond: “We are looking forward to the opening of our restaurant in Brickell and to continue creating new dishes for guests!”
Must-try dish: Tandoori Paneer Tikka w/ Homemade Cottage Cheese Cubes marinated in Yogurt, Garlic, Ginger, Spices & skewered w/ Onions, Tomatoes & Bell Peppers. Served w/ Fresh Mint Chutney.