Quick Six With...Executive Chef Julia Doyne and How She Forges the Way in Miami's Food Scene

Quick Six With...Executive Chef Julia Doyne and How She Forges the Way in Miami's Food Scene

By Mae Velasco, Custom Content Editor

Executive Chef Julia Doyne is a powerhouse in the culinary world — and not just because she is the first female executive chef of The Forge, an iconic steakhouse in Miami that has made its name since the 1930s. (Fun fact: Talk about historic! The actual building was originally a blacksmith's forge used to create iron gates and sculptures for affluent locals.)

We saw how The Forge has merged its past with modern techniques and flavors under Doyne's leadership in this episode of Table 42, but how did she get to where she is today? Raised in Cleveland, she remembered the moment she fell in love with cooking: she was 5 years old, peeking over at a batch of perfectly-made chocolate chip cookies, under her mother's watchful eye. While she considers working as a dishwasher at 13 her first real experience in the kitchen, she answered her calling of gourmet dreams during her years at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Quick Six With...Chef Timon Balloo, Award-Winning Leader at SUGARCANE raw bar grill

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHEF TIMON BALLOO.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHEF TIMON BALLOO.

At SUGARCANE raw bar grill, their small plates have big flavor when it comes to going global. It may be because of its three distinct kitchens — an open fire grill, raw bar, and traditional kitchen — or it may be because of the restaurant's gastronomic roots, but it may also have to do with the roots of the man behind the kitchen himself. Award-winning Executive Chef and Partner Timon Balloo was born into a Chinese and Trinidadian family. Growing up with days on the farm and surrounded by rich, cultural recipes, his love for cooking came to life when he began watching a television series called "Yan Can Cook."

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University, his accolades include being a Distinguished Visiting Chef, as well as a repeat winner of the University's culinary Zest awards. But while he had tons of lessons in the classroom, he felt his true studies began under his culinary role models, both James Beard Award-winning chefs, Allen Susser, who taught him humility and respect for food, and Michelle Bernstein, who took him under her wing in the kitchen of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental Miami.

Since joining the Samba Brand Management team and opening SUGARCANE in 2009, the concept has received multiple recognitions, including a coveted notable nomination for "Best New Restaurant" by the James Beard Foundation. Eater has also recognized Balloo as "Chef of the Year" in Miami, and Ballo received was nominated for "The People's Best New Chef" by Food & Wine, as well.

But this chef's sights doesn't end at the Miami shore. Soon, we'll be seeing SUGARCANE's tasty eats at the Sin City — probably because all of its dishes are sinfully good. Besides preparing to open SUGARCANE raw bar grill's first location in The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip, what else is this chef up to? 

Find out what he had to say when as asked him six, quick questions.

Maine Lobster + Bacon in a sushi roll. Need we say more? #brunchhard // [Brunch 10am-4:30pm every Saturday & Sunday]

A photo posted by SUGARCANE raw bar grill (@sugarcanerawbargrill) on

Lunch on the lighter side: our daily fish a la plancha with market greens. [available for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30am-5pm] #comeandgetit

A photo posted by SUGARCANE raw bar grill (@sugarcanerawbargrill) on

The Quick Six

Foodable: What’s the first meal (that you can recall) that changed your life?  

Timon Balloo: Foie gras dumplings at Annisa by Chef Anita Lo. It brought me to later move and cook in New York City.

Foodable: Who is your culinary mentor?

TB: Many, but it ranges from Michelle Bernstein to Allen Susser.

Foodable: One ingredient you could not live without?

TB: Gochujang paste.

Foodable: What's the most important lesson you learned (good or bad) in your first year of owning a restaurant?

TB: Success depends on your staff.

Foodable: What’s your guilty culinary pleasure?

TB: Double cheeseburger at Shake Shack!

Foodable: Favorite kitchen hack?

TB: Use the microwave for melting chocolate and dehydrating olives, or steaming vegetables. Can help when in a bind.

Quick Six With...SUSHISAMBA Executive Chef Cesar Vega and How He's on a Roll

Quick Six With...SUSHISAMBA Executive Chef Cesar Vega and How He's on a Roll

By Mae Velasco, Custom Content Editor

This isn't the first time we've seen SUSHISAMBA on Foodable, and it won't be the last, especially now as that the newly appointed Executive Chef Cesar Vega is putting his creative culinary spin to this restaurant's already unique offerings. With each bite, guests aren't just enjoying flavor — they're enjoying three. Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian influences all fuse together for a one-of-a-kind experience at SUSHISAMBA.

Vega is just as charismatic as his hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and relocating to the colorful and culturally rich Miami, Fla., only added to his vivacious personality and drive. As the only son in a huge family (growing up with five sisters must have been fun), his passion for cooking was ignited at a young age by his parents and siblings. Family has always been at the heart of his cooking, and to this day, he continues to create more than dishes in the kitchen — he creates new memories and aspirations.

From starting off as a server and gaining customer experience knowledge during his time at front of house, he made his way to the burners and climbed the ranks at Deering Bay Yacht and Country Club, where he was mentored by Chef Paul Gjertson. After eight years of refining his meticulous and clever work ethic, he opened his own restaurant called Komaki Sushi  & Thai. Five years later, he sought a new challenge and joined the SUSHISAMBA team as chef de cuisine. From there, as they say, is history.

What makes Chef Cesar Vega tick? Read more and learn about what he had to say when we asked him six, quick questions.

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Quick Six With...Award-Winning Chef Pascal Oudin, French Cuisine Professional Since 13

Quick Six With...Award-Winning Chef Pascal Oudin, French Cuisine Professional Since 13

Not all of us are fortunate to find our passion at a young age, but for Chef Pascal Oudin, the celebrated owner and chef of the award-winning Pacal's on Ponce, and now its casual-dining little sister, Brassiere Central, the right ingredients came together to lead him to his calling.

Born and raised in Bourbon Lancy, France, Oudin could remember barely seeing over the kitchen counter as he helped his mother whip things together — I guess you could say that was his first sous chef position. He was captivated by cooking, whether it was preparing small snacks or large meals for his family. By the time he was 13, he began a professional career in a local restaurant in small town Moulins, residing in Bourbonnais, hailed as France's gourmet capital. From there, the accolades came racking in. Get to know more about Pascal Oudin and see what he had to say when we asked him six, quick questions.

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Quick Six With...Cocktail Chief and 'Gifted Booze-Slinger,' Will Thompson

Quick Six With...Cocktail Chief and 'Gifted Booze-Slinger,' Will Thompson

By Mae Velasco, Custom Content Editor

As Miami Food Pug put it best, when you slide across the bar from Will Thompson, you get more than a transaction — you get an experience. And this mix master certainly mixes it up. After quenching the tastes of those thirsting for creative crafted cocktails at the Broken Shaker and Ball & Chain, this summer season, Thompson has shaken up the menu at The Local Craft Food & Drink for libations filled with local fruit, spices, and herbs.

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