COMPANY: Michy’s, Sra. Martinez
WHAT MAKES 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.