Food & Drink

South Florida Food 50 honorees are elevating our culinary prominence

Meet the culinary innovators who are shaping the way we eat and drink, like Chef Diego Oka, of La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental Miami.
Meet the culinary innovators who are shaping the way we eat and drink, like Chef Diego Oka, of La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental Miami. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Who are the South Florida Food 50? They’re the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, brewers, bakers, bloggers, sommeliers, spirits-slingers, artisans and innovators who are shaping the way we eat and drink.

Food is having a moment across the country, and particularly in South Florida. When we decided to devote a special section to our food scene, we threw around ideas like a Best Restaurants guide. While our restaurants are great — and getting better — I wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight the people, not the places, who are pushing our food scene toward the forefront of national prominence.

In the Food 50, you’ll find familiar names like Peter Schnebly, owner of Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Miami Brewing Co. in Homestead. Schnebly recently embarked on an ambitious project that includes a restaurant and bed-and-breakfast that he hopes will make South Miami-Dade a food-tourism destination.

You’ll also see some new faces, like Sasha Ullman. At 25 years old, Ullman has already cooked in the kitchens of fellow Food 50 honorees Michelle Bernstein and Zak the Baker. Now you can find her at 27 Restaurant at the Freehand Miami, which just received a 3.5-star Miami Herald review. The restaurant’s standout dishes, like local crudo and daily vegetable preparations, come from Ullman’s station. We’re willing to bet this is the tip of the iceberg of Sasha Ullman coverage.

This is not a ranked list, nor is it a comprehensive who’s-who. It’s our way to introduce you to (or, in some cases, reacquaint you with) a broad range of hardworking, talented, caring South Floridians who are elevating our culinary community.

This section comes out on the eve of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Now in its 14th year and having raised more than $20 million for Florida International University’s hospitality and tourism school, the festival is a testament to South Florida’s draw not only as a sunny destination but also as a food city.

We’ll have plenty of coverage of the festival in our pages and online. With the South Florida Food 50, my hope is to give you a snapshot of what’s going on in our food world right now — beyond the celeb chefs and Food Network stars in town for the fest.

And what better time to release our Dining Adviser? It’s an incredibly useful, user-friendly site that works like an app and compiles a boatload of restaurant information — reviews, health inspections, maps, hours, contacts and more — and puts it in the palm of your hand.

You can go to from your smartphone, tablet or desktop, and in two clicks have a list of the closest restaurants to you — or see which ones state inspectors have recently shut down for rodents or roaches. Find out more about it on the next page.

And be sure to check out our guide to 13 of the best brunches in town, from hotels editor Shayne Benowitz. It will come in handy, some weekend in the near future, when you crave smoked salmon and bottomless mimosas.

And by “some weekend in the near future,” I mean this one.

The Miami Herald’s South Florida Food 50 honorees, in no particular order:

Chefs & Restaurateurs

1. Justin Flit, Chef-owner of Proof Pizza & Pasta

2. Richard Hales, Chef-owner of Blackbrick Chinese, Sakaya Kitchen and Dim Ssam a GoGo

3. Michelle Bernstein, Chef-owner of Michy’s, Crumb on Parchment and Seagrape

4. Paula DaSilva, Executive chef of 3030 Ocean

5. Giorgio Rapicavoli, Chef-owner of Eating House

6. Marco Velasquez, Chef-owner of Cheen-Huaye Mexican Restaurant

7. Daniel Serfer, Chef-owner of Blue Collar and Mignonette

8. Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley, Chef and partner of Ortanique on the Mile (Coral Gables), Ortanique Camana Bay (Grand Cayman), Restaurant at The Dunmore (Bahamas) and the forthcoming Zest and Zest Market

9. Kevin Cory, Chef-owner of Naoe and N by Naoe

10. Tim Andriola, Chef-owner of Basil Park and Timo restaurants

11. Kris Wessel, Chef-owner of Oolite Restaurant & Bar

12. Kathy Manning, Owner of Hy Vong Vietnamese Cuisine

13. Karina Iglesias, Co-owner and general manager of NIU Kitchen

14. Kareem Anguin, Chef-partner of The Oceanaire Seafood Room

15. Jorgie Ramos, Chef-owner of Barley

16. Nedal Ahmad, CEO and co-founder of Pincho Factory

17. Todd Erickson, Executive chef of Haven and Huahua’s Taqueria

18. Eileen Andrade, Chef-owner of Finka Table & Tap

19. Diego Oka, Executive chef of La Mar

20. Jen Chaefsky and Mike Pirolo, Partner and chef of Macchialina

21. Sasha Ullman, Chef de partie at 27 Restaurant

22. Matthew Sherman, CEO and founder of Jugofresh

23. Gabe Fenton, Executive chef of Bourbon Steak

24. Andreas Schreiner, Sergio Navarro and José Mendín, The Pubbelly Boys

25. Alan Hooper, Tim Petrillo and Peter Boulukos, The Restaurant People

26. Sam Gorenstein and Roger Duarte, COO/executive chef and CEO of My Ceviche

27. John Kunkel, CEO of 50 Eggs Inc.

28. Michael Schwartz, Chef-owner of The Genuine Hospitality Group

29. Myles Chefetz, CEO of Myles Restaurant Group

30. Stephen Starr, Owner of Starr Restaurants

Brewers, Sommeliers & Spirits-Slingers

31. C. Virginia King, Bartender at the Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami

32. Robert Ferrara, Bar director at Lure Fishbar and the Rum Line

33. Peter Schnebly, Founder and CEO of Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Miami Brewing Co.

34. Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, Co-founders of Bar Lab

35. Luis G. Brignoni, Founder of Wynwood Brewing Co.

36. Daniel Toral, Consulting wine director for 50 Eggs Inc.

37. Luis Mejia, Sommelier at La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental


38. Margie Pikarsky, Owner of Bee Heaven Farm

39. Gabriele Marewski, Owner of Paradise Farms

40. Teena Borek, Owner of Teena’s Pride Farm and CSA

Bakers & Pastrymakers

41. Josh Gripper, Executive pastry chef of W South Beach Hotel and The Dutch

42. Zak Stern, Owner of Zak the Baker

43. Tomas Strulovic, Owner of True Loaf Bakery

44. Frank and Marti Reich, Owners of The Good Pie Co.

Artisans & Innovators

45. Joel and Leticia Pollock, Founders and owners of Panther Coffee

46. Danielle and Freddy Kaufmann, Founders and owners of Proper Sausages

47. Veronica Menin and Marcela Llodra, Founders and curators of Conscious Bite Out

48. Lee Schrager, Founder and director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and vice president of Southern Wine & Spirits


49. David Rosendorf, Food for Thought Miami

50. Sef Gonzalez, Burger Beast

Evan S. Benn is Miami Herald food editor and restaurants editor. Follow him on Twitter: @EvanBenn.

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