Chef Eileen Andrade Aims to Make a Destination Out of Miami Suburb, Kendall

Chef Eileen Andrade Aims to Make a Destination Out of Miami Suburb, Kendall

"If I could describe my style of cooking, I would definitely say— bold," says Chef Eileen Andrade.

And “bold” is right as her restaurants serve up a combination of Cuban, Peruvian and Korean dishes.

There is no stopping this fierce Miami-based chef from accomplishing her goals.

In her mid-twenties, Eileen Andrade, opened her first restaurant, Finka Table & Tap in Kendall, an unassuming suburban Miami neighborhood. Now, the 29-year-old sits down with Foodable to talk about her newest restaurant concept, Amelia’s 1931, which she opened less than a mile away from her first concept.

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Consumers Demand These Culinary Innovations

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, culinary trends are taking the stage. Just a few years ago, many diners hadn’t heard of exotic dishes and ingredients like kimchi or ostrich steaks.

In an effort to keep their art interesting, chefs are constantly innovating to provide their customers with experiences that WOW diners. However, today's customers are more educated and more adventurous than ever. This is pushing chefs to continue experimenting and is certainly keeping chefs on their toes!

Mark Garcia of Avocados From Mexico says the new consumers’ well-traveled palates are pushing guests to ask for more from their dining experiences.

“We’re really experiencing those flavors when we travel and we expect them when we come back home,” said Garcia. 

Chef Eileen Andrade of Finka Table and Tap adds that social media also encourages innovation.

“Social media has been a huge influence, for sure. I mean, now you have everything at your fingertips. It’s like, you’re sitting in Miami and you see something cool trending in LA. Then you’re like ‘I wanna do that,’ so you do it in Miami.”

Chef Andrade continues to explain how chefs must build trust to allow customers to step out of their comfort zones. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort but at the end of the day, the customer's experience is what matters.

“We have alligator on the menu. We have ostrich. We’re trying to do things a little differently and kind of present these ingredients and these flavors to people who normally haven’t had it. And we do that by gaining their trust at the table saying, you know, ‘If you don't like it, we’ll take it off the bill but just try it.’ So we’ve been successful in changing people’s mind[s].”

Watch the episode above to learn about even more culinary trends we’ll be seeing this year.

 
 

Table 42: Best of 2016

This year, Table 42 brought us innovative dishes, awe-inspiring plating, and truly authentic cuisines from a lineup of first-rate chefs. However, a select few stood out from the rest. Here are Foodable's "Best of" moments for Table 42 in 2016.

Chef Joe Cicala at Le Virtù

The inspiration for Le Virtù comes from Chef Cicala’s experiences all over Abruzzo, Italy. Every dish is inspired by Abruzzese culinary tradition. Take for example, their housemade couscous.

“How we make it is traditional to how they make it in Casalbordino. [We] use a small thistle broom. We dip the broom in water, and then we shake it over the semolina and it creates these little drops, and those little drops become the couscous,” Chef Cicala explained.

After spending a significant amount of time in Abruzzo, Italy, Chef Cicala developed an intimate knowledge of Abruzzo's "primary materials" and applies that experience to his selection of producers and purveyors surrounding Philadelphia like naturally raised pork from Berks County; lamb, chicken and rabbit from Lancaster County; and produce from rural New Jersey and Pennsylvania. What he can’t find locally, Chef Cicala imports from Abruzzo artisanal honey and cheeses, extra virgin olive oil, and even the flour used to make fresh pasta.

Chef Eileen Andrade at Finka Table and Tap

Chef Eileen Andrade’s work ethic and culinary background were instilled by her family early on. Her grandfather opened the well-known Islas Carnitas on Coral Way in Miami years back. 

Andrade learned how to cook authentic Korean dishes after training under a retired woman in Korea. After training every day at 7 a.m. for a few weeks, Andrade fell in love with the culture and cuisine even more. According to Andrade, the fusion of Korean and Latin cuisine that she dishes up at Finka was a no-brainer.

“It’s bold flavors, it’s colorful, it’s saucy... Once I started to pair things, I was just like, ‘Okay, perfect — kimchi goes amazing with rice and beans,'” she said.

Chef Tetsu Yahagi at Spago

Tetsu Yahagi wasn't sure what he wanted to do until he walked into a bookstore one day on a family vacation and stumbled upon Wolfgang Puck’s “Adventures in the Kitchen.”

“My dream, before I left the United States to go back to Japan, was to dine at one of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants,” he said. “So, I asked my father if we could all dine at Spago. He made a reservation, and that’s where I first met Wolfgang. He signed the book that I bought.”

Now, Yahagi is the chef de cuisine at that very restaurant, working under Chef Lee Hefter.

“We have always created something new, and we still are trying to come up with new ideas, new techniques, new dishes,” Yahagi said. “We don’t want to turn ourselves into a museum. This restaurant needs to be evolving every day, and it needs to be kept always relevant in the industry.”

Keep an eye out for all of this year's "Best of" episodes to learn more about which industry professionals changed the game in 2016!

Finka to Guests: “We’re Not in Miami Anymore”

@finkatableandtap, Instagram

@finkatableandtap, Instagram

Finka Table & Tap, a Foodable Miami Top 25 Restaurant, proves that with passion and dedication, anything is possible. When guests enter, something extraordinary happens: They are transported.

The gastropub — which chef/owner Eileen Andrade named after the farm her grandfather grew up on (another fun fact: he was the inspiration for her work ethic and culinary background at an early age) — has become well-known for its fusion of Korean, Cuban, and Peruvian cuisine, as well as its unusual location in a “very unassuming shopping center” in “the middle of nowhere.”

The cuisine was a no-brainer, Andrade admits in this episode of “Table 42”. “It’s bold flavors, it’s colorful, it’s saucy.”

“I want them to feel like they are not in Miami anymore…,” said Andrade. “And I just want them to know that anything is possible.”

Finka Table & Tap: In Miami, Korean-Latin Fusion Lives in an Unassuming Shopping Center

Miami has become a hotbed for gastropubs. But unlike any other we have seen, Finka Table & Tap, a Miami Top 25 Restaurant, is known for its fusion of Korean, Cuban, and Peruvian cuisine. And also for its unusual location.

“Finka’s different mainly because of where we’re located,” says Eileen Andrade, chef and owner at Finka. “We’re in West Kendall in this very unassuming shopping center, and when you walk in here, you’re transported.”

Andrade’s work ethic and culinary background were instilled by her family early on. Her grandfather opened the well-known Islas Carnitas on Coral Way in Miami years back. “Working with my grandparents and my parents definitely instilled something very important as an owner of a restaurant, which is hard work, dedication…,” says Andrade. “And if you don’t have that, your employees don’t respect you.”

The Cuisine

“The fusion of Korean and Latin cuisine was a no-brainer. It’s bold flavors, it’s colorful, it’s saucy. It’s something that was extremely easy, and that’s why I opened Finka the way I did,” Andrade says. “Because once I started to pair things, I was just like, ‘Okay, perfect — kimchi goes amazing with rice and beans.”

Andrade learned how to cook Korean authentically through traveling. She went to Korea and took cooking classes from an older, retired woman. “She had nothing to do, and she said, ‘Come meet me at 7 a.m. every day at my studio and I’ll teach you.” Andrade did that for a few weeks, falling in love with the culture and cuisine even more in the process.

Korean fried chicken

Korean fried chicken

Cuban bibimbap bowl

Cuban bibimbap bowl

In this “Table 42” vignette, Andrade makes Korean fried chicken for us, which was brined for 24 hours beforehand. First, it’s tossed in cornstarch and then fried at 350-degrees. While waiting, a KFC sauce is made of sesame oil, fresh minced garlic, kimchi flakes, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, mustard and ketchup, and gochujang, a Korean red pepper paste. Once out of the fryer, douse the chicken all up in that sauce, and top with sesame seeds.

What’s in a Name

Before landing on “Finka,” Andrade says the team was thinking of naming the concept Patio “because our patio area was going to be all outdoors.” After consideration, they decided against the open patio because of Miami’s inconsistent and oftentimes humid weather. So, the naming convention became an ode to Andrade’s grandfather — Finka was the name of the farm he grew up on.

“When you walk into Finka, I want people to be transported. I want them to feel like they are not in Miami anymore…I want them to grasp the whole idea behind this, which is nothing complicated — it’s just good food, a really cool vibe, really good cocktails, fun service that’s not too formal but not too informal,” says Andrade. “And I just want them to know that anything is possible. If Finka can make it in the middle of nowhere really, then as long as you have passion and dedication, anything is possible.”