You may have seen Miami Springs native Francis Yamboa, who is better known these days as “Chef Frank,” when he recently made the rounds on local news stations for a special cooking segment.
Yambao visited the NBC 6 studios and cooked up a few signature dishes for host Roxanne Vargas. He also made his way to WPLG 10 to talk with Neki Mohan.
Chef Frank works with Giraffas, a Brazilian restaurant that specializes in delicious grilled burgers and steaks. Yambao, who now lives in Orlando, returned to Miami to promote what’s called Tuesday Tweet-Up at Giraffa’s midtown restaurant. For those of you wondering what a tweet-up is, it’s when a group of Twitter users meet up in person in an event that’s orchestrated via the Twitter social networking website.
While Yambao’s goal right now is to promote the Giraffas brand across the state of Florida, Miami Springs locals couldn’t help but notice, too. As Chef Frank made his television debut there was a buzz on social media sites as old friends from Miami Springs wanted to celebrate the success of one of their own.
Yambao spent over 20 years of his life in Miami Springs; he attended Miami Springs Elementary School, Miami Springs Middle School, and graduated as a Golden Hawk in 1993.
“I loved growing up in Miami Springs. It’s one of those neighborhoods that you hear about. Small town, everyone knows each other, the kind of place you want to raise kids in. I truly do miss living in Miami Springs, and hope to once again live there in the future,” said Yambao. “My fondest memories are of Mrs. Smith and the Academic Excellence Program in elementary school, the Regatta, the Fourth of July Parade, and the Haunted House at the Rec Center. I will always hold Miami Springs near to my heart.”
Before entering the culinary field, Yambao was in the medical field, working as a nephrology technician. Although it was very gratifying, he wasn’t happy. At the age of 30, Yambao changed careers. He enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and the rest is history.
Chef Frank was born, and so was Yambao’s catering company, FMDelights. “When I first applied with Giraffas, I wasn’t even looking for a job. I had my catering company, and I was happy with it,” said Yambao.
One day while at Pembroke Pines Mall, Yambao and serendipity had a date. After bumping into Giraffa’s director of operations, Michael Loeffler, a 15-minute conversation about the industry, and a tour of Giraffas, Yambao knew it was meant to be.
“It was Loeffler’s passion not only for the industry, but for the company. I walked away thinking, I would love to work under him,” said Yambao. A week later he was on staff.
A lot has happened in the 14 months since Yambao began his journey with Giraffas. He opened his first store in Orlando just a year ago and a few Fort Lauderdale locations will open at the end of this month. The next three openings will be in Orlando and Tampa. Not only does Yambao help out with new store openings, he coordinates special events, food festivals, and in-store promotions like the one that brought him back to Miami.
Yambao now has friends (and fans) from all over the state, not just from Beautiful Miami Springs. One of his biggest fans is Carlene Nelson, a pastry chef from Cakes! Cakes! Cakes! a well-known Miami Springs bakery in the 1980s and longtime former resident of Virginia Gardens.
“We have known Francis since elementary school,” Nelson said. “He was a really great kid and a best friend to my son Daryl. We traveled all over the world with their elementary class. Many years later I reconnected with him on Facebook. I enjoyed seeing all the pictures he posted of the foods he was making and always told him how proud I was of him.
“Later, when he began his catering business, I commented often and told him what a great job he was doing. Francis always had such a great personality and when he talked about his possibility with this new job I knew he would be a success. I am not surprised at how well he has done. Hopefully we will be able to visit one of his restaurants soon.”
Yambao’s strong culinary background is what got him the job. His passion, dedication and determination are what moved him up the ladder so quickly. A classically trained chef with a background in fine dining, Yambao’s passion for food is evident in everything he does. Chef Frank has become what you would call the ambassador for Giraffa’s Tweet-Up Tuesday initiative. What Yambao first began in Orlando, he will continue in other stores around the state.
“When I was first approached about the TV segments, they said I was the perfect fit, but I was just honored to be asked to do it,” said Yambao. “Those who know me can tell you I was what you can call a wild child growing up. That being said, I did straighten out. I can say that you should never give up on your dreams, and never give up on yourself. Never stop learning and love life.”