Five of Miami’s Top Chef’s Unite For a Common Cause: The United Way

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Cesar Zapata of The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions , Todd Erickson of HaVen South Beach and Huahua’s Taqueria, Alberto Cabrera of Bread + Butter, Jose Mendin of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group and Giorgio Rapicavoli of Eating House, and Alberto Cabrera of Bread + Butter

 There are a few truly incredible restaurants in Miami, and coincidentally some of the best of the best are collaborating for charity. The United Way of Miami-Dade has organized a superb four days of events, leading up to the main experience on April 11th at the Intercontinental Miami that will include Executive Chefs from Bread+Butter, HaVen South Beach, Pubbelly, Eating House and The Federal to Headline VeritageMiami’s Interactive Dinner! Divine!

Considered one of the year’s most unique culinary experiences, guests will team up and cook a five-course meal under the tutelage of Alberto Cabrera of Bread + Butter, Todd Erickson of HaVen South Beach, José Mendín of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, Giorgio Rapicavoli of Eating House and César Zapata of The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions. The chefs will bring their unique flavors and backgrounds as they guide guests in preparing the different courses, with Johnson & Wales culinary students serving as sous chefs and sommeliers.

“City National Bank (presenting sponsor) is committed to giving back to the communities we serve, and United Way – because of its sustainable impact in the areas of education, healthy and financial stability – is the centerpiece of our efforts,” City National Bank President and CEO Jorge Gonzalez said. “As a community bank it is also great to support a festival that celebrates South Florida’s burgeoning food scene and these talented young chefs who have been hailed as the city’s new culinary guard.”

Alberto Cabrera is the executive chef of Bread + Butter in Coral Gables, where the Miami native embraces his Cuban-American roots – taking traditional dishes and revamping them by adding a modern spin, such as his Chicharron De Puerco with a truffle-black bean puree. Cabrera learned the art of cooking as he moved up the ranks at notable kitchens including Robbin Haas’ Chispa and the Miami extension of Madrid’s La Broche. At Bread + Butter, Cabrera infuses the carefree charm of Cuba’s mambo era with the modish slant of the modern American gastropub.

Todd Erickson is the executive chef of HaVen South Beach on Lincoln Road, a futuristic electric lounge offering innovative cocktails and some of the most refined food in the city. At HaVen, Erickson takes local, organic ingredients and transforms them into a variety of global small plates from crudos to duck sliders. Erickson got his culinary start at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and from there went on to open a catering company and three four-star restaurants in Dallas, Texas. After having such a successful start with HaVen, Erickson and the Haven Hospitality Group opened Huahua’s Taqueria just down the street. Erickson has also announced HaVen will be expanding this spring to include a full dinner menu.

José Mendín is the director of culinary operations for The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, the team who many Miami foodies credit for the local chef movement. Mendín, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, worked for many well-known restaurants including Nobu and Sushi Samba, before opening Pubbelly Gastropub in Miami Beach with his Pubbelly Group partners Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro. Since then, the Pubbelly Group has experienced incredible success and has expanded to include four more restaurants – PB Steak, Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta  and the newest, L’Echon Brasserie. In 2012 and again this year, Mendín was distinguished as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef South, and most recently won Miami Cochon 555, a regional all-out pork cooking frenzy, and will compete in the Grand Cochon competition this summer.

Giorgio Rapicavoli is the executive chef of Eating House, the innovative pop-up restaurant turned Coral Gables mainstay. Rapicavoli burst onto the Miami food scene when he became the first Miami chef to win Food Network’s “Chopped” television competition. After winning the competition and $10,000 prize, Rapicavoli and business partner Alex Cassanova opened the Eating House pop-up. The venture was so successful that Eating House eventually opened as a full-time establishment at its original location in Coral Gables. In 2013, Rapicavoli was distinguished as a James Beard Award Rising Star chef semifinalist. Rapicavoli is also nominated for Culinary Innovator in this year’s ZESTtm Awards at Johnson & Wales University.

César Zapata is known as the “Stove Master and Pig Whisperer” of The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions. Before opening The Federal, Zapata changed the way South Floridians thought about food by opening Miami’s first pop-up restaurant, Phuc Yea!, in 2011. After its widespread success, Zapata and his business partner/wife Aniece Meinhold opened The Federal on Biscayne Boulevard. Since opening, The Federal has received praise from major publications such as Food & Wine Magazine and USA Today. As their next venture, Zapata and Meinhold are in the process of relaunching “Phuc Yea!” in a permanent location.


VeritageMiami brings together more than 4,000 wine and food lovers for four days of culinary indulgence. This year’s lineup begins on Wednesday, April 9, with a Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls, includes a Fine Wine Tasting at the Village of Merrick Park on April 10, followed by the popular Interactive Dinner at the InterContinental Miami on April 11, and the final inning is an Auction & Wine Dinner on the diamond at Marlins Park on Saturday, April 12. Since its inception, VeritageMiami has raised more than $12 million for the community.  All proceeds support United Way of Miami Dade’s work in education, financial stability and health.

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