Pubbelly, chef Mendin and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival

This week, thanks to the Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SoBeWFF), Miami is again the gastronomic capital of the world. It was in 2014 SoBeWFF, when I first met chef José Mendín, the soul behind Pubbelly Gastropub’s kitchen. Once I ate his ham croquettes (I’ll post the recipe soon) that was love at first… bite!

Last night I had the opportunity to go back to Pubbelly, attending the invitation of Goya Foods and the National Pork Board’s campaign Pork te inspira. Of course chef Mendín, definitely one of the busiest cooks in Miami, was there and was so kind to let me try his new wild mushrooms and huitlacoche croquettes with corn alioli. 
Chef Mendín is Puerto Rican. He came to Miami when he was 20. In 2001 he graduated in Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he was a finalist in the Best Chef South category awarded by the James Beard Foundation, which is like the Oscars of the food industry. While I write these lines, I heard he also made it to the 2015 finalists.
He was part of the opening team of Nobu Miami and later went on to Nobu London in Hyde Park, worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and cooked for the King of Spain. A Boricua, chef Mendín is passionate about everything pork. He’s also well known for turning around traditional recipes with a modern and fun twist, like his Pastelón de Lechón, which is being served at Pubbelly only for this week (no worries: I’ll post the recipe once this SoBeWFF madness ends.)
Along with the other two Pubbelly Boys (Andrea Schreiner and Sergio Navarro), chef Mendín is co founder of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group comprised by Pubbelly, Pubelly Sushi, Barceloneta and L’echon Brasserie. Such was the impetus they gave to the ​​Sunset Harbor area in South Beach, that the city of Miami Beach established March 13 is the Pubbelly Group’s Day!
On the occasion of this SoBeWFF, this Saturday 21st in the morning, sponsored by Smithfield, first producer and processor of pork meat in the United States, chef Mendín will “move” Pubbelly to the Loews Hotel on Collins Avenue. This time everything will be around tacos and I’ll be there!
Also on Saturday 21st chef Mendín will be at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village in collaboration with Goya’s executive chef Fernando Desa.
On Sunday 22, chef Mendín will be at the Goya Food's Swine and Wine. There, 20 chefs will be roasting pigs in the gardens of the iconic The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The cooks will create lechón-centered tapas to compete for the National Pork Board Critic's Award.

This time chef Mendín won’t be cooking. Instead he’ll be part of jury with celebrity chef Doreen Colondres. Just to give you an idea of ​​the caliber of this competition: acclaimed Basque chef Juan Mari Arzak, whose restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, has three Michelin stars, will also be on the jury of this lechón bacchanal. I won’t miss this feast!

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