Chef Keyvan Behnam of China Grill

Globalization is a hot word these days, and nowhere has it been more apparent than in the food world. Americans are eating more eclectically and adventurously these days, and foods that were probably foreign to our parents’ generation are now commonplace and part of the contemporary culinary vernacular. One of the biggest changes in American eating is our approach to Asian cuisines, and our increased exploration into regional Asian foods and exceedingly exotic flavors.

Back in 1986, one New York City restaurant strived to make itself more than just another Chinese restaurant and was one of the pioneers of what is now considered to be Asian fusion cuisine. China Grill was one of the first restaurants to think outside the box when it came to Asian cuisine by offering dishes such as wasabi mashed potatoes, and they exported this concept to over a dozen different locations, including the iconic South Beach location, which has been a landmark for over a decade. Such a global concept in dining requires a globally-minded Chef, and South Florida is grateful to have Chef Keyvan Behnam manning the kitchen at China Grill Miami. Born in Iran, having worked in kitchens throughout Europe and the United States, and possessing effortless skill in marrying French technique with Asian flavors, Chef Behnam is the epitome of a modern, cosmopolitan, and globally-minded chef. Joonbug is pleased to offer its readers a glimpse into Chef Behnam’s culinary inspirations and insights.

The Perfect Peruvian Pisco Sour

Cuba has the Mojito, Brazil has the Caipirinha, Mexico has the Margarita, and Peru has the Pisco Sour. The Pisco Sour is a refreshing cocktail made from lime juice, sugar syrup, and Pisco, which is a clear brandy distilled from grapes brought over from Europe during the colonial period, and is instantly recognized by its frothy head topped with a few dashes of bitters. In Peru, Pisco is mainly produced in the southern region of Ica around the town of Pisco, from which the liquor received its name. Chile also claims to be the originator of Pisco, and the issue has been increasingly politicized over the years and has even been brought forth to the World Intellectual Property Organization, resulting in nine Latin American countries recognizing Pisco as being solely Peruvian. Regardless of the country of origin, Peruvian laws require that Pisco be made in the artisanal fashions that have existed for hundreds of years, whereas Chilean Pisco tends to be more industrially manufactured.

Miami Spice at the Fountainebleau

The month of August is just around the corner, and that means that South Florida’s foodies are all eagerly anticipating Miami’s restaurant month, Miami Spice. Starting in the month of August, a wide array of Miami’s top restaurants will be offering three-course prix fixe menus at a promotional price - $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner – kind of as a way to draw us locals to haute cuisine restaurants we wouldn’t regularly attend and, in turn, make us regular patrons. Considering that this promotion enables diners to dine at a fraction of the price that it normally costs to enjoy many of these restaurants, it is no wonder that Miami Spice has become wildly popular. Consequently, the event has been extended an extra month and now spans from August through the end of September. As an added treat this year, diners will be able to experience the eclectic and sumptuous dining options that The Fontainebleau Hotel has to offer.

Food Truck Frenzy

So, you've heard about the food truck craze that's been sweeping the country and, more recently, South Florida, but you don't quite know where to start. After all, part of food truck culture is its spontenaiety and mobility - a veritable gastronomic nomad philosophy that means that your favorite mobile chef can be at one street corner at lunch and then half way across town before dinner. Fortunately, there is a place and time every week where these nomads gather to provide their patrons with a one stop eating experience. Every Tuesday night from about 5:30 pm to around 10:00 pm, no fewer than a dozen food trucks park their kitchens right next to the Johnson & Wales University campus in North Miami, a pretty fitting location. When I first got word of this weekly event, called BTTR Tuesdays, I thought it was going to be a few scattered food trucks informally parked on a street corner with a handful of foodies munching away. Upon arriving at the event this past Tuesday, I was blown away by the quantity of food trucks present - about 20 or so - as well as the number of people in attendance. There was even a designated parking lot and police cruisers present to control traffic. Apparently, the food truck trend in Miami was much greater than I had previously anticipated.

A Day Of Freedom and Great Food

There's no denying that, after Hispanics, the most significant ethnic group in South Florida is the Haitian community. It's a known fact for many living in the northeastern sector of Miami-Dade County that Little Haiti isn't so little and isn't just restricted to that segment of northeast 2nd avenue that bears banners reading "Ti Ayiti" (Little Haiti in Creole). In Fact, the Haitian community has become so prevalent in South Florida that one can safely consider everywhere from MiMo to Oakland Park as "Big Haiti". Nevertheless, for a community that is such an integral part of our South Florida melting pot, most people know little to nothing about Haiti and its rich culture except for the images of devastation from 2010's earthquake, from which Haiti is still recuperating. While most people will not think anything of today, May 18th, other than it being a characteristically humid South Florida day, most Haitians will be celebrating the 208th anniversary of a seminal moment in their battle for independence from France and from slavery.

All Hail The Mighty Hamburger

The hamburger is considered by many the world over to almost single-handedly represent American cuisine, which is a pretty awesome feat considering the size and diversity of this country. Any attempt at researching the origin of the hamburger can turn into a wild goose chase with different individuals, restaurants, cities, and states claiming ownership to the creation of the modern hamburger. This goes to show just how important the hamburger is to not only our gastronomic heritage, but our cultural heritage, as well. Besides being tasty, portable, and relatively simple to prepare, the hamburger provides us with the one thing Americans really crave: freedom of expression.

Ditch That Diet!

Pour out that protein shake, step away from the salad bar, and cancel that Weight Watchers appointment. May 6th is National No Diet Day, and it's your time to give yourself - and your tastebuds - a treat. There's no denying that what human beings crave the most are all things rich, starchy, and sweet. Unfortunately, those cravings, if left untamed, can lead to obesity and the health complications that come with it. However, sometimes it seems as if modern society has made us into health nuts, constantly obsessing about cholesterol, trans fats, calories, and carbs to the point that we cannot even gaze upon a cookie without feeling guilty. You've denied yourself long enough, and apparently so have enough people to warrant a day to forget about your dieting and give yourself what you really want...and lot's of it! But after so much time frequenting health food stores and packing lunches of raw almonds and blueberries, you've probably forgotten all about those greasy, creamy, or syrupy-sweet delicacies and where to find them. No worries. Joonbug is here to help you celebrate National No Diet Day in style with a few recommendations of places where you can break your diet, even if it's just for a day.

"DeBe" Fest

It’s 3:45 on a Saturday. It’s a balmy afternoon in Deerfield beach, and my friend and I have just walked across an unpretentious strip mall parking lot to arrive at a long line of casually-dressed locals quivering with anticipation before the gates of the First Annual Deerfield Beach Wine and Food Festival, anxiously chatting about what they’ll be tasting as soon as those gates are opened. Yes, this was Deerfield Beach’s first foodie fest, but the participating restaurants and eateries were like old friends to many residents of the area, with a few new and welcome surprises.

Ditch SoBe For A Night And Head Up To DeBe

I'm not quite sure if anyone actually refers to Deerfield Beach as DeBe, but maybe it'll catch on after this Saturday when Deerfield Beach shows the rest of South Florida what the natives have known all along: Deerfield Beach is a foodie hotspot! For locals, Deerfield Beach's First Annual Wine and Food Festival will be a reunion of favorite restaurants and eateries, as well as some new finds and rediscovered gems. For out-of-towners, the festival is a chance to discover the great culinary treasures that Deerfield Beach has to offer.

Showcasing 40 top chefs from the area, the line-up includes food tastings from restaurants spanning the gastronomic spectrum. All sorts of restaurants, from haute cuisine establishments to casual local landmarks, will be represented. Additionally, the participating restaurants demonstrate the rich ethnic diversity of Deerfield Beach: American BBQ, Michelin star-style French, Thai, Sushi, regional Mexian, Greek, and Italian by way of Italy and New York, just to name a few. As if sampling the best of Deerfield Beach's cuisine weren't enough, the hosts plan on keeping things convivial by offering tastings of 40 different wines and spirits, including beer from a local microbrewery. A sundae isn't complete without its cherry, and this food and wine festival offers several alluring "cherries" to top things off: celebrity chefs, cooking demos, a famer's market, and a foodie bazaar!


It's 2 A.M., you've been studying for that oh-so-crucial final exam for the past 5 hours, and you feel your eyelids getting heavier by the second as your mind drifts away to Slumberland. You need to stay awake. You need to focus. You need a pick-me-up! Coffee is the traditional solution, but you don't want those pesky jitters that come right before the inevitable crash. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar, and the zero-calorie options always leave an odd taste in your mouth, further distracting you from your studying. It would seem as if your options have been exhausted, but there is solution to your late-night studying dilemma: yerba mate .