Self-taught Chef Malyna Si—the only female chef helming a Michelin-star restaurant in Central Florida—fervently brings her passion for art into cooking, believing her role “is to lead those who are curious on a culinary journey.” The Phillycovidnative told the Michelin Guide last May that she “loves introducing people to food they are not familiar with. [Her] goal is to inspire others to not think of eating as just a means of survival. Everyone has to eat, and I don’t know why it can’t be a beautiful experience every time. To clarify, I don’t mean dining has to be expensive or lavish, but it should be an honest and uninhibited connection to food.”
The visionary chef helms the Michelin-starred Spanish-inspired steakhouse Capa kitchen at the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. The menu includes Spanish classics like Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus with potatoes and sprinkled with sweet paprika and olive oil), Gambas (shrimp), Patatas Bravas (potato slices in a mildly hot sauce), and the popular Catalonian tapa Pan con Tomate (sliced bread with fresh grated tomato, garlic and olive oil). The latter dish is made with local Roma tomatoes seasoned with a 40-year aged sherry vinegar, and with finely grated fresh raw garlic that “lends a punchy scent without overpowering the dish,” Si explained to Forbes. One of her favorite items on the menu is the Ibérico Pluma (8 oz, Marcona Romesco sauce, Valencia Oranges, $55), she told the Orlando Sentinel in March. Diners also have a generous assortment of Spanish charcuterie and cheeses available.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio, Miami
Peruvian Chef Diego Oka, a creative force in South Florida’s dining scene, is the Executive Chef of the exclusive restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Key Biscayne. Oka is responsible for exceeding the expectations that the name Gastón Acurio already arouses. Acurio is the most famous chef in Peru, who has been credited with “coining a new canon in Peruvian gastronomy, popularizing, modernizing, and internationalizing the country’s food in a manner that has since been appreciated by a global audience,” according to the 50 Best at William Reed website.
A charming location with a cinematic view of Miami Bay and the Brickell skyline from the outdoor terrace and a patented hydroponic Green Living Wall by GLTI indoors, La Mar’s menu includes plenty of Peruvian delicacies, ranging from upscale novo-Andean fare to Japanese-Peruvian fusion: ceviches combined with a citrus-based marinade of lime and ají peppers, leche de tigre, tiraditos, causas (a Peruvian dish of stuffed mashed potato) with traditional huancaína sauces, anticuchos, lomo saltado, arroz chaufa, and delicious piqueos. A visit to La Mar is an opportunity to taste the richness of flavors and authentic culinary creativity of Peruvian gastronomy and to expand your Spanish vocabulary.
Cosme by Enrique Olvera, New York
Owned by Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera of the globally acclaimed Pujol in Mexico City, Cosme is a CASAMATA restaurant in New York City’s Flatiron District. Cosme takes Mexican cuisine to another level, modernizing dishes and turning them into gourmet experiences without losing their traditional essence. Not even the Obamas could resist the temptation to visit the trendiest Mexican place in NYC. During one of his appearances at the United Nations General Assembly in 2016, they appeared by surprise with a 13-car presidential motorcade. According to Grub Street, the Obamas tried “a bunch of the celebrated chef’s dishes, including tuna tostadas with yuzu and avocado, burrata, lobster with ginger mojo, short ribs, and, naturally, the duck carnitas, which, when assembled at the table and tucked into fresh tortillas, are the best tacos in New York.” While the menu has changed—I remember delicious chicharrones (pork rinds) covered with sliced radishes and avocados that have been removed from the menu—its signature dish of duck carnitas slowly braised in the meat’s fat is still available.
Minibar by José Andrés, Washington DC
Two Michelin-star Minibar is a laboratory of creativity and experimentation where science meets cooking and tradition is catapulted into the future. The radical restaurant boutique created by Spanish chef José Andrés, one of the chefs best known to foodies worldwide, “is a study in avant-garde cooking where each bite is designed to thrill the senses by pushing the limits of what we have come to expect—and what is possible—from food,” according to the description in their website.
For a complete immersion and exclusive dining experience “from an entirely different perspective,” the restaurant recommends booking ‘José’s Table,’ a private dining room adjacent to the kitchen where you can see how magic is cooked, challenging the imagination.
Los Fuegos, Miami Beach
Los Fuegos is about fire, passion, and authentic South American culinary artistry. The award-winning restaurant at Miami Beach’s five-star hotel Faena is run by Argentina’s celebrity chef Francis Mallmann, a James Beard award-winner, famous for its Patagonian-style open-fired asados. Book early and arrive with enough time to enjoy the place because this extravagant, whimsical, and colorful hotel has more than one Instagrammable photo op. Baz Luhrmann and set and customer designer wife Catherine Martin were the creative consultants behind the historic Saxony Hotel transformation into a world-class luxury resort.
Grab a drink or enjoy a walk by Mammoth Garden, around Damien Hirst’s iconic artwork “Gone But Not Forgotten,” a three-meter-tall golden mammoth skeleton encased in a massive glass vitrine, part of Hirst’s Natural History series. Try the traditional three-course experience Sunday Asado at the poolside Los Fuegos Veranda terrace with live music. The food is delicious. Plus, they make their own handmade sourdough bread.
Taco Maria, Los Angeles
The Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant known for its innovative Alta California cuisine and rustic and unpretentious intimate atmosphere is relocating from its original Costa Mesa location to a new larger space after they couldn’t extend their 10-year lease, owner Chef Carlos Salgado told the Los Angeles Times. But keep an eye on it because it is an experience worth trying. Multi-award-winner Chef Carlos Salgado opened Taco María in 2013 “to create a syncretic Alta California cuisine that represents Mexican food by putting real corn at the foundation. At the heart of the restaurant is a Mexican saying: ‘Sin maíz no hay país’ (There is no country without corn).” Salgado has received praise for his singular way of presenting traditional Mexican food with the technique and preparation of haute cuisine.
Johnny Sánchez, by Aaron Sánchez, New Orleans
Mexican-American celebrity award-winning chef, T.V. personality, author, and philanthropist Aaron Sánchez is executive chef and part-owner of New Orleans-based Johnny Sánchez. If you have watched FOX’s MasterChef competition, you’ve seen chefs Sánchez, Gordon Ramsay, and Christina Tosi judging contestants’ cooking skills. Sánchez is a James Beard Award-winner for the Television Studio Program. The menu at Jonny Sánchez combines traditional Mexican food with a modern approach. It ranges from Chicken Tortilla Soup to Pork Ribs al Pastor and Duck Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and everything in between. A second location opened this summer at L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Volvér, by José Garces, Philadelphia
Described as “a theatrical dining experience” at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Center City Philadelphia, Volvér (sic) offers guests a casual dining experience in a sophisticated atmosphere. “Cooking is really about collaboration in many ways,” Chef Garces told local channel Fox 29 when opening his kitchen to the in-chef residency program, an initiative in which he shares the kitchen with other chefs, offering diners a more varied menu. Volvér offers an American cuisine small tapas-style plates menu (kale and chorizo soup, asparagus Milanese) in the stylized bar and a decadent multi-course chef’s tasting (Filet Mignon ‘Philly Style,’ Merluza, and Grilled Sea Bass in parmesan emulsion with chilled fava beans & field pea salad, lemon, mint, and cured egg, among others) in the intimate dining room. From Wed-Sun, there is a special Pre-Theater menu until 6:30 p.m. While Volvér is a more fusion option, Chef Garces also owns traditional Spanish tapas restaurant Amada, his iconic first restaurant with two locations in Philadelphia and one in Atlantic City, NJ.
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