Clay Conley
Clay Conley may already be executive chef of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, but he’s been head of the kitchen long before that. Conley became a protégé of well-known Chef Todd English soon after his graduation from Florida State University’s hospitality school, and joined him at his flagship restaurant Olives in Boston. Conley has worked closely with English to open restaurants in Washington D.C., Las Vegas and Tokyo, and it wasn’t long before English named him Culinary Director of his 17-restaurant enterprise by the age of 29. He has also worked briefly with fellow renowned chef Gary Mennie. Conley was chosen by the Mandarin Oriental, Miami to head their newest restaurant, Azul, in 2005. Since then, he has won considerable acclaim for his creation of Azul’s contemporary cuisine.
Where were you born ?
Royal Oak Michigan
How long in Miami:
Five years
Chef at Azul at The Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Favorite Restaurant:
Sugarcane opened a few months ago in Midtown. The restaurant feels like it’s been there forever and the food is simple, healthy, and delicious. Great outdoor bar too.
Best Sushi:
Matsuri has the freshest fish in town and most people in the industry agree this is the best sushi spot in town.
Best Ethnic Food:
I love the island food that Cindy Hutson does at Ortanique. Not only is the food amazing, she and her partner Delius are great people.
Best Italian:
Love the food and the attitude at Macaluso's, it's every chefs dream!
Best place for late night dining:
Hiro's Yakko-san. After a long day at work there is no better place to unwind. Get some sashimi, a whole fish, or the yaki udon and a couple of ice-cold asahis.
Best dessert:
Hedy Goldsmith at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink
Best place for a romantic date:
Mandolin Aegean Bistro. The little courtyard is so cute. The food and service are great and it really feels for a moment that you may not be in Miami
Best Sunday brunch:
Michael's Genuine Food and Drink
Hautest Club/Lounge:
I love the live music and the chill vibe at Bardot.
Best place for a power business meeting:
The Capital Grille
All-around favorite spot in Miami:
Golf courses
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Best Spa:
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Favorite Charity Event:
Bali Hai at Kampong is a food event located right on the water with some of the city’s best chefs. The atmosphere is very relaxed.
Favorite Cultural Event:
South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Best Aspect of Miami:
The water
Best Steakhouse:
You can’t beat the scene or the steaks at Prime One Twelve
Best Pizza:
Andiamo on Biscayne has great brick oven pizza and it's a great place to sit outside.
Best Lunch:
Sakaya Kitchen has really healthy, casual Asian food.
Best Gym/Athletic Facility:
Best Massage:
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami Hot Stone Massage
Best Museum/Exhibit:
Viscaya Museum & Gardens
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