With the 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicking into full swing next week, Miami is proving itself to be a global culinary destination. Further evidence of this is the fact that Miami has not one but three candidates in the running for the title of Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef 2011: Gulf Coast.
First on the list is Jeff McInnis hailing from Gigi in Midtown Miami. McInnis was raised in a small town on the Florida panhandle and attended culinary school at Johnston and Wales in Charleston, SC. He then worked his way around the world (gigs included the Atlanticville Restaurant outside of Charleston, the Asolare in St. John in the Virgin Islands, Azie in San Francisco and the Five Star Orient Express resort in Virginia) before landing back in Florida where he became the chef de cuisine of The DeLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. He spent several years honing his craft at The DeLido before leaving to realize his dream of opening his own restaurant. Gigi boasts a menu that “offers cutting-edge, high-performance, communal comfort food for the discerning palate.”
The second candidate from Miami is Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill which is also located in Midtown. Balloo was born in New York and raised in San Francisco as part of a family of Indian and Chinese heritage from Trinidad. This exotic and unique upbringing is reflected in Balloo’s food–he is widely lauded for his ability to “juxtapose unlikely ingredients in interesting ways, such as a scallop crudo with apple, truffle and jalapeno.” Balloo also attended Johnston & Wales University and through their international program worked at the Hotel Metropole in Belgium under French Master Chef Dominic Michou.
Last but not least is Marco Ferraro of Wish in Miami Beach. Born in Calabria, Italy, Ferraro has been described as “a rising star whose unpretentious, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine perfectly blends comfort and sophistication.” Boasting an impressive resume that includes being a graduate of the famed French Culinary Institute and Italcook in France, mastering classic French cooking at Le Mantel in Cannes and Le Muscandin in Mougins before coming to the United States to train and work with culinary superstar Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jean-Georges in New York City. He then helmed Jack’s La Jolla in California for several years as the chef de cuisine before accepting his current position at Wish.
Go to foodandwine.com to vote for your favorite candidate!