At work, chef José Mendín is all business. (How else could he pull off opening five restaurants—Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta, Macchialina and, most recently, PB Steak—in less than three years?) But at home, the prolific Puerto Rican-born, Johnson & Wales-trained, James Beard-nominated kitchen master yields to a higher power: that of his 4-year-old son Ian, who lives with him two days a week and reigns supreme at Mendín’s high-rise downtown Miami apartment.
“The refrigerator is filled with juices, fruits, healthy snacks, stuff that’s easy to make and good for kids,” said the 34-year-old known more for his crafty fusions of rare ingredients than for the “scrambled eggs and toast with butter and peach marmalade” he makes his son because “it’s one of his favorites.”
A rental he hopes to shed for something he buys when openings settle down, the apartment caught his eye in part, Mendín said, because of the open kitchen. And while it’s got standard appliances, the special tools he gets to keep at home make cooking here fun for him. “I have my All Clad pans here. They’re nice and shiny and they look great,” he says. “I could never have them at the restaurants because they’d get beat up there.” Among his other toys: “My wood cutting boards, which I can’t have at the restaurants because they’re not sanitary. But I do love them.” So what other kinds of requests does Miami’s busiest chef get while at home? “Ian loves burgers, and he helps me make the patties when I cook them for him,” Mendín said. Makes you wonder: might there be a Pubbelly Jr. on the way?
Chef José Mendín will be hosting a Pubbelly Lifestyle Seminar, sponsored by Bank of America, from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Shelborne Hotel in Miami Beach. He will also participate in Goya Food’s Swine & Wine at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24 at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. For details go to sobefest.com.