José Mendín is no stranger to Foodable, and neither are the Pubbelly Boys. The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, which consists of founding partners Andreas Schreiner, Sergio Navarro, and Executive Chef José Mendín, are a triple threat taking over tastebuds all across Miami with multiple successfully-launched restaurants. José Mendín, who oversees all of their concepts, mans the helm at their namesake establishment, Pubbelly.
This Asian-inspired gastropub is a favorite for crowds craving small pork plates paired with craft beer and wine, but what more can we learn about the creative genius leading the Pubbelly kitchen? Mendín was born into a family driven by food, his parents being self-proclaimed food enthusiasts and his great-grandmother a cooking instructor. While he never made cooking a passion until he left for college, the talent was clearly in his blood.
"My mom was the master of her domain, and so she never let us cook at home. It was only when I lived on my own that I started to cook. The reaction I received from people enjoying my food was so gratifying that I was immediately hooked," he said.
He left his home in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami, where he studied at Johnson & Wales University. From being a part of the opening team of Nobu Miami and then later on at Nobu London in Hyde Park, to becoming chef de cuisine at SUSHISAMBA, he absorbed all of those Asian influences that shaped his culinary career and carried that with him when he was appointed to SUSHISAMBA assistant corporate chef. Whether it was opening the award-winning SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas location, or pursuing his education in Spain and working under masterminds such as Chefs Jesus Ramiro and Juan Pablo Felipe and in Michelin-starred restaurants, all of his passions and talents can be seen culminating together on his menu at Pubbelly.
Still, talented may be an understatement — he has been a "Best Chef: South" James Beard Award semifinalist from 2011 to 2015. See what Mendín had to say when we asked him six, quick questions.
The Quick Six
Foodable: What’s the first meal (that you can recall) that changed your life?
José Mendín: It was a New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico. I was probably 8 years old and my parents took us to a little French bistro in Old San Juan. I was completely wowed by the taste of the food, the service, and the experience as a whole.
Foodable: Who is your culinary mentor?
JM: Thomas Buckley.
Foodable: Who is one person who you would love to cook for (that you haven’t already)?
JM: My grandfather. He died when I was 11 years old and was a huge foodie. I would also love to cook for David Chang, as I think our palates are very similar.
Foodable: Where is your favorite restaurant to eat at when you’re not working?
JM: Too many. Depends on the mood and craving.
Foodable: One ingredient you could not live without?
Foodable: What's the most important lesson you learned (good or bad) in your first year of owning a restaurant?
JM: There is so much to say here, but the biggest lesson is working together with my partners.
Foodable: What’s your guiltiest culinary pleasure?
JM: Foie Mousse and Nutella with sea salt.