South Beach move
Invigorated by the weight loss and tired of winters, Snowhite arrived in South Florida in 2008 on a mission. Shedding those 125 pounds had motivated him to start a personal chef business specializing in healthy eating. His weight loss had come from a menu plan that combined elements of the South Beach and the Atkins diets.
“I came down here, and met a woman named Linda Richmond, who got the book deal for Dr. Agatston, author of South Beach Diet. So she introduced me to him. I said, ‘Listen, I lost 125 pounds on your diet.’” After some discussion, he convinced them to create the position of South Beach Diet chef. “Anybody calls, and I’d go to their house, and cook South Beach Diet style.”
This led to a stint as personal chef for the Fernandez family (of Navarro Pharmacies). “They’re very wealthy, billionaires,” he says. “I cooked for them for a year, and then I got more clients. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in-between. I cooked, dropped off to their house... a ‘diets delivered’ thing.”
His client list grew to include professional athletes, including Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson and Dwyane Wade of the NBA, and baseball players like Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. “I’d get an idea of what they like, then work around it. For example, Joe Johnson would get me for a five-month stretch. I’d do the meals, get the liquor, take care of everything. It’s all about them partying. They’d rent a $12 million mansion, and it’d be just a free for all, fun.”
Enter Bianca, who he has affectionately dubbed “The Mexican” (she’s a Cancun native). Snowhite had been thinking of opening a restaurant featuring healthy gourmet Mexican fare. So he and Bianca spent a month traveling across Mexico. The two sampled hundreds of tacos, paying close attention to unique local kick. “We tried every sauce, every texture. Then I took those recipes and put them on steroids. I took the gourmet route. I took what we learned down there and made it our own.”
The research paid off. His first restaurant, the Taco Beach Shack partnership (with hotelier Alan Lieberman and son Nathan), quickly became the No. 1-voted Hollywood restaurant on TripAdviser.com. But Snowhite preferred a beach location. He also wanted only top-quality ingredients. So he left his first creation behind, perfected his menu and created Taco Spot on the Hollywood Broadwalk (in the old Vedu’s space). The T-Spot has quickly become the go-to Mexican restaurant in Hollywood.
“Everything we have, I make from scratch. The guacamole, sangria, infused fruits, the shells. We make our hard shells. It’s crunchy, it’s fresh, a totally different experience than if I bought it from a distributor. I’m doing it to control the ingredients, to put a better product out there.”
“The Mexican” proved especially fluent in the language of zest, creating playful sauces using herbs, fruits, peppers and citrus in ways that hadn’t been tried before. She proudly lets on that the sauces are rotated on a regular basis to keep things lively. “The Hollywood Broadwalk is such a melange”, says Bianca, “people of all different tastes. So we mix it up, try to keep it interesting for everyone. And that’s what makes it fun.” Past favorites include cilantro cream, habañero mayo, chipotle cream, red chili hot, celery, jalapeño, garlic sriracha and garlic cilantro vinaigrette.
Snowhite’s Mexican fare includes a surprise choice: Korean short ribs with kimchi. “That took me about six months to create the perfect recipe. Short ribs are very popular, everybody likes them, so I wanted to do something with that. I make my own kimchi, too. That takes a month to make.” When it’s pointed out that most people don’t associate kimchi with tacos, Snowhite laughs. “I wanted something different. Korean and kimchi, the two flavors just marry. Like peanut butter and jelly, you know what I mean?”
Another house specialty is corn on the cob. “We do a cilantro pesto that we fire roast. We boil it, we put the cilantro pesto on there, fire roast it on an open flame, then roll it in parmesan cheese.” The corn is a big favorite at Taco Spot.
Before leaving, the gourmet chef puts to rest a question he is dogged by. “Snowhite, yeah,” he says with a laugh. “No interesting story there, sorry. It’s German, the translation of schnee and weiß (weiss), snow and white. That’s all, no Eskimo ancestry or anything like that.”