When I was a little kiddo, there used to be the best market of all time called Bay Harbour Fine Foods. I still remember the smell and the taste of their rice pudding. Most recently I ended up in the same shopping center, on the same block for my girlfriend Jacquelynn Powers’ birthday party. I was invited to a cooking class. I would rather gossip with the girls than cook. I was perplexed but decided to attend, and thank god because it is those nights you question ‘going out’ that end up being the best nights ever, and boy was this a real treat.
Open Kitchen opened its doors two years ago. Sandra Stefani, its proprietor is a Harley Davidson riding Tuscan born chef and an occasional cooking instructor. Seems like a contradiction but believe me it really works, and very well. Open Kitchen is open as a restaurant, serving many locals in the area but also provides catering. If I were catering an event, I would indeed hire Sandra and Ines Chattas (her partner in O.K.), but as you know they also host’s private cooking classes and serve up daily specials, so the next time you are in the Bal Harbour area and not in the mood for Carpaccio or Makoto, go check out this little magical destination. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.
E: Where did this whole cooking class concept come from?
S: Cooking class was an old concept from my old business. It was a continuation Casa Toscana. There was a group of people who wanted to do the classes with me so we offer classes every other Tuesday because it would get tiring otherwise. I create the menu and it costs $65.00 per person. We teach from a-z how to make three – four dishes, mostly from Italy but sometimes we do other things like pasta making.
E: Culinary school?
S: No way! No culinary school, I learned it on my own.
E: How did you end up in America?
S: I came to America in 1979 without real hopes and dreams but they happened later. I was young and wanted to come here with my first husband…
E: What are your favorite dishes?
S: I love it when my dishes are stewed in oven, like wild game, lamb, duck, boar…. It is an ancient thing I’m fascinated by foods history. Its something I have learned.
E: What is your favorite restaurant in Miami?
S: Oak Tavern, where the chef is unpretentious and low key and very much hands on.
E: Give my reader an idea of what you serve up for lunch on a daily basis.
S: Sandwiches, wraps, we keep it easy, salads and every day there are daily specials and daily entrees. We cater to our local market who we thank for their support.
1071 95th street. Bay Harbour Island. 33154
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Sat, Lunch from 11-6
Dinner on Thursday. No reservations. A different menu every week.