Our Haute 100 list details the accomplishments of the most influential people in each of our markets—Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These people continue to make moves, so rather than waiting for the next Haute 100 issue to come out, we thought we’d provide you with regular updates on those Haute 100 members who are making headlines. To celebrate Miami Spice, we are featuring Michelle Berstein, the James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef who is most recognized for making a big splash in Miami with her unique take on Latin food. We can’t seem to get enough of her.
Company: Michy’s, Sra. Martinez
What Made Her Haute: She began her career as a professional ballerina, but after just one class in nutrition, she tossed her slippers and hit the kitchen where she found her true calling. This Miami native is celebrated for her innovative dishes, which are spiced with her unique brand of Latin flair. Her vibrant personality and divine cuisine put her on the national map and earned her the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef: South, in 2007, for her work at her signature restaurant Michy’s. She is the author of Cuisine a Latina and has co-hosted The Melting Pot on the Food Network. Last year, she opened a second establishment in Miami, Sra. Martinez, where she puts her signature Latin spin on traditional Spanish tapas. The establishment, located in a former post office in the Design District, was named one of the best new restaurants in 2009 by Esquire. She also operates Michelle Bernstein at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach.
What Makes Her Haute Now: The chef who deems her food “luxurious but approachable” recently graced Top Chef in Washington, D.C., as a guest judge. The episode, which proved to be an interesting one because of the rivalry between fellow Miami chef, Andrea Curto, aired July 21. Although Bernstein is arguably one of the best and busiest chefs around town, her warm and humble demeanor is what allows her to be one of the most respected Miami chefs. She credits her mom as the biggest influence to her cooking style and is the head of Common Threads, a charity that teaches low-income children about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Bernstein was also one of the chefs that partook in the Miami Spice Kickoff event, serving samples from her restaurants, Michy’s and Sra. Martinez. With appearances on major shows such as the Food Network, the Today Show with Al Roker, and The Balancing Act Show, Bernstein has secured her spot as a chef who continually dazzles diners.