Restaurant News & Reviews

The pastry chef behind The Salty Donut's gourmet creations resigns from his job

Max Santiago, left, has split from The Salty Donut co-owners Amanda Pizarro and Andy Rodriguez.
Max Santiago, left, has split from The Salty Donut co-owners Amanda Pizarro and Andy Rodriguez.

Things have gone sour for The Salty Donut.

The pastry chef behind the Wynwood gourmet doughnut shop that inspired blocks-long lines resigned last week. After a falling out with owners Andy Rodriguez, 29, and Amanda Pizarro, 24, executive pastry chef Max Santiago, 41, made the announcement on his Instagram page.

The doughnut shop, which started as a pop up out of a trailer and opened a permanent location in the Wynwood Arcade last fall, will continue using the recipes Santiago created as pastry chef. Among them are their maple-bacon 24-hour-raised brioche doughnut and a brown butter cake doughnut.

Rodriguez and Santiago had made a name for The Salty Donut together. They even teamed up to compete in and win the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown in September. They recreated their winning doughnut — a cream-filled cannoli doughnut — for their fanatical customers. Many waited for up to an hour their and at a pop-up at Miami Beach’s Confidante Hotel to try the confection.

Rodriguez wished his former pastry chef well and stressed the quality of their doughnuts would not be affected.

“It’s never been about one or two or three people. It’s about the creativity, the quality of the product,” Rodriguez said. “It has always been a team effort.”

Santiago has worked as pastry chef over the last 20 years for several notable James Beard award-winning chefs, such as Michelle Bernstein (at the former Seagrape in Miami Beach), Norman Van Aken and Allen Susser. Santiago had several 1- to 2-year stints with different restaurants in the last 10 years. He said in helping to found The Salty Donut he “found my calling,” and hopes to open his own doughnut and pastry shop.

He said he lamented the split but wished his young cofounders good luck, even as he decides what comes next in his career.

“I’m definitely going to open my own place. I’m not settling for anything less,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

READ MORE: Salty Donut opens brick-and-mortar shop in Wynwood

Carlos Frías: 305-376-4624, @Carlos_Frias

If You Go

Salty Donut

50 NW 24th St., Miami


Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. or until sold out. Saturday and Sunday, opening at 8 a.m.