Food & Drink

2016 batch of South Florida Food 50 winners among best in the business

Katie Sullivan and Andrew Gilbert, owners of The Seven Dials in Coral Gables, are among the 2016 Miami Herald Food 50 honorees.
Katie Sullivan and Andrew Gilbert, owners of The Seven Dials in Coral Gables, are among the 2016 Miami Herald Food 50 honorees.

When it came time to compile this year’s Miami Herald Food & Dining special section, I gave myself two options: Find 50 all new South Florida food-and-beverage pros to honor, or piece together a list of the area’s best restaurants.

I went with people over restaurants. People have more interesting stories than restaurants. People have the ability to transform restaurants, breweries, chocolate shops, gas stations and vacant lots into neighborhood hangouts, into homes-away-from-home, into places we have to take visitors.

Much like last year’s South Florida Food 50, the all new 2016 class is full of chefs, restaurateurs, hospitality experts, beverage specialists and power couples who are raising our culinary prominence and making South Florida a better place to eat and drink.

This year’s Food 50 winners share a common thread in that they all make us rethink something we thought we knew.

We thought steakhouse chefs were portly men, until Julia Doyne stepped in as the first woman to lead Miami Beach’s legendary The Forge.

We thought some of the original Mango Gang members had begun to slow down, until we found out all that Norman Van Aken and Allen Susser are cooking.

We thought upscale hotel restaurants were stuffy and staid, until Aaron Brooks started roasting pigs caja china-style and having a ball at locals-favorite Edge Steak & Bar.

We thought Thai food in Miami was mostly noodles and grease with a side of sushi, until Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee showed us the real deal.

We thought we had tasted beer before, until Johnathan Wakefield blew our minds with his subtropical sours.

We thought there were no French restaurants in Hialeah, until Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat came (back) to town.

We thought Jewish delis shied away from shellfish and swine, until Joshua Marcus toyed with tradition in the most delicious way.

We thought plant-based food at an open lot sounded like hipster hooey, until Della Heiman and her Della Bowls at Wynwood Yard charmed us with its good flavors and good vibes.

You’ll find their stories and more in this year’s Food 50 profiles. Keep in mind that it’s an unranked list — all winners are equally important.

And for those lists of best restaurants (and ones to avoid)? Check out Miami.com Dining Adviser — dine.miami.com — for the latest Miami Herald restaurant reviews, plus up-to-the-minute health inspections, including emergency shutdowns.

2016 Miami Herald South Florida Food 50

Chefs

1. Julia Doyne, The Forge

2. Ivan Dorvil, Ivan’s Cookhouse

3. Adri Garcia, Verde Kitchen Café

4. Aaron Brooks, Edge Steak & Bar

5. Gregory Pugin, Palme d’Or

6. Nunzio Fuschillo, Bocce Ristorante

7. Dewey Losasso, RedLander Restaurant

8. Sean Brasel, Meat Market

9. Makoto Okuwa, Makoto

10. Mark Cashier, Hillstone

11. Thomas Connell, Fontainebleau Miami Beach

12. Allen Susser, Books & Books Café

13. Josh Capon, Lure Fishbar

14. Trudy Ellis, The Bahamian Pot

15. Phuket “Cake” Thongsodchareondee, Cake Thai Kitchen

16. Timon Balloo, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

17. Bradley Kilgore, Alter

18. Joshua Marcus, Josh’s Deli

19. Alejandro “Alex” Rodriguez, Palomilla Grill

20. Cielle Bragin, Eating House

21. Steve Santana and Washington Charles, Taquiza, The Grdn

22. Giovanni Rocchio, Valentino Cucina Italiana

23. Norman Van Aken, In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken, Norman’s, 1921

24. Piyarat Potha “Chef Bee” Arreeratn, Naiyara, Oishi Thai

Restaurateurs

25. Tonino Doino, Rosinella Trattoria, Sunset Juice Café

26. Abe Ng, Sushi Maki

27. Michael Sullivan, Golden Fig

28. Marc Falsetto and Charles Hazlett, JEY Hospitality

29. Elliot Wolf, Be Nice Restaurants

30. Steven Perricone, Perricone’s Marketplace & Café, Sullivan Street Bakery, Cena by Michy’s

Hospitality experts

31. Beto DiCarlo and Sergio Tarantini, Fratellino

32. Ed Witte, Joe’s Stone Crab

33. Wayne Eldred, Tarpon Bend

Beverage Specialists

34. Johnathan Wakefield, J. Wakefield Brewing

35. Andrew Mendez and Michael Mendez, Mendez Fuel

36. Jennifer Massolo, The Liquid Projects

37. Eric Larkee, The Genuine Hospitality Group

Entrepreneurs

38. Devonie Nicholas, South Beach Wine & Food Festival

39. Della Heiman, Wynwood Yard

40. Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noé, Little River Cooperative

41. Maude Eaton and Sara Liss, Saffron Supper Club

42. Susana Garcia and Isabel Garcia, Cacao Art Chocolates

43. Austin Allan, Tio Gazpacho

Power Couples

44. Teresa and Nick Sharp, Threefold Café

45. Anita and Klime Kovaceski, Crust

46. Katie Sullivan and Andrew Gilbert, The Seven Dials

47. Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat, La Fresa Francesa

48. Dena Marino and Marcus Wade, MC Kitchen

49. Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya, Mandolin Aegean Bistro, Mandolin Beach

50. Lisa and Julian Siegel, Riverside Market, Riverside Market South, Craft Beer Cartel

Evan S. Benn is Miami Herald Food Editor: 305-376-4624, @EvanBenn

Avoid Roaches

Miami.com Dining Adviser: dine.miami.com

South Florida Food 50

Editor: Evan S. Benn

Writers: Evan S. Benn with Linda Bladholm

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