Chef Robbie Wilson knows how to fuse.
His renowned cuisine is recognized as being both globally-influenced and elegantly understated. A born and bred Texan, the toque likely attributes his willingness to combine diverse ingredients (think Philly Steak Eggroll with Cheez Whiz and Fritto Pie with Waygu Beef) to his impressive and well-traveled resume. Having manned the line at some of the world's most highly praised restaurants (including Maison Trois-Gras, Craft, the French Laundry and Matsuhisa), Wilson has recently moved to Nashville to work as Culinary Director of the acclaimed M Street Entertainment Group (Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, Tavern, Kayne Prime).
Being the Executive Chef of the Fontainebleau in beautiful Miami Beach is a title of prestige all to itself. Living up to that title as Chef Thomas Connell does is quite a achievement that calls for great notice. In this part II of our interview wit Chef Thomas Connell, we ask him a few more personal questions, as he lets us in on his road to success and even a jaw-dropping mishap.
When did you know you wanted to cook for a living?:
"Actually, I remember as early as the first grade when our teacher asked us to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and in my picture I had drawn myself cooking. When she asked what it was I said 'I want to cook when I grow up.' So I knew from a very early age that I wanted to do this. By my sophmore year in High School, I already had my next school picked out, the Institute of Culinary Arts in Palm Springs. That was an intense ten month program after I graduated High School and then when I was 19, I went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York and graduated with a very rounded education from there."
One can’t help but think of the famous Fontainebleau when Miami comes to mind. Originally opened in 1954, the Fontainebleau has been, for decades, the destination for tourists on vacation as well as the locals for a night out on the town. Now with its celebrated renovations, once again the Fontainebleau remains as Miami’s most notable icon. With its ever-popular clubs like LIV and Arkadia, the Fontainebleau has now become a playground for the young and hip as well as the older and wealthier of Miami. One can only imagine, as well, that this historic hotel would only choose the best to run the show. And choose the best they did! Six months ago, the noteworthy Chef Thomas Connell came into the Fontainebleau as their new Executive Chef and since then has overseen every culinary aspect of their massive hospitality operations. A huge and critical feat, no doubt, and Joonbug Miami got a chance to see just how Thomas Connell manages it all- including mixing fine dining with Miami’s hottest nightlife.
We all love to hear those inspirational stories of the young dish washer who works his way up to become a big-time chef of beloved restaurant chain; and Chef Christian Plotczyk’s story is just that. As Corporate Chef of Rosa Mexicano, he oversees the famous chain of Mexican restaurants throughout the country. He sat down with Joonbug Miami and gave us an inside look to his story, Rosa’s menu, and some of his own personal likes.
How did you start in the culinary industry?:
Whoever said a culinary degree trumps hard work and determination, has never met Jouvens Jean. Executive Chef of SAWA Restaurant & Lounge, Jouvens Jean is a self-taught chef from Nassau, Bahamas that has climbed his way to the top without a degree at a fancy culinary school or an apprenticeship with any big-name chef; just good old fashioned elbow grease. Chef Jouvens, at the age of 30, heads the kitchen at SAWA, located in the beautiful Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables. SAWA, which means togetherness, uniquely combines contemporary Mediterranean & Japanese cuisines, in a dual-concept menu. Joonbug got a chance to sit with him as he explained to us his journey that brought him into the culinary world.
This month, Joonbug is featuring numerous “Behind The Plate” interviews. To start off this month of exciting inside news, we got a chance to ask the Executive Chef of the ever-popular restaurant Area 31 at the Epic Hotel some questions. Area 31 Executive Chef E. Michael Reidt, has been named one of the country's "Best New Chefs" in 2001 by Food & Wine magazine, and more recently "Best New Chef" by The Baltimore Sun. This budding chef is getting a lot of buzz and will soon reveal a new menu at Area 31. And we got to ask him all about it!
I had the opportunity the other day to sit down with Sam Jackson, the owner and chef behind KO Catering and Boston's newest food craving, the Australian meat pie. KO is a cozy little shop on A street with enough room to swing a cat, or a quite a few pies judging from the two dozen folks who try the door during our interview.
Jackson is a sleepy eyed, friendly, true blue Aussie with an easy laugh and a wealth of stories from his formal culinary training in Sydney, to travels in Europe and five years floating across the globe cooking on luxury yachts.
Chef Laurence Jossel of San Francisco’s NOPA is one of the city’s most honorable chef, husband, and father. He was kind enough to take a Friday moment between making the day’s caponata and playing with his two year old son to speak with me about, well, food. Chef Jossel is a humble man even with all his great success, and this humility carries into his food. NOPA’s dishes are elegant without being unpretentious and made with the finest of organic ingredients. Chef Jossel also carries his patriarchal philosophy into the kitchen where he treats his sous chefs and cooks like real family, feeding them, giving them verbal affirmation, and taking joy in watching them grow and succeed. It comes as no surprise the kitchen emits a warm love as the wood-fire grill crackles and pans sizzle. Sitting at the restaurant’s family-style table, Chef Jossel and I spoke on issues of cooking, restaurants and the secret to his success.
There is nothing typical about Bitchin’ Kitchen. It’s part in-your-face comedy, part rock and roll. At first glance you wonder if this chick decked out in leopard print, leather and four-inch heels can slice and dice like a pro. Then you see her whip up a kick-ass fettuccini with crab meat and fresh peas or ricotta crepes with a drizzle of raspberry coulis and you think, “Bro, this girl can really cook.” I recently got the chance to sit down and talk with her about Bitchin’ Kitchen and its success.
Native Montrealer Nadia G first popped up on the culinary radar with her three-minute mobile show, Bitchin’ Kitchen, back in 2007. It was an instant hit and received industry recognition. Bitchin’ Kitchen won a Wireless Arts, Video and Entertainment (WAVE) award for Favorite Mobile Comedy Series, beating out Conan O’Brien. Shortly thereafter a publisher contacted her about producing her own cookbook.