It’s hard not to love Michelle Bernstein. The bright, bubbly Miami native is elevating Miami’s foodie scene and national reputation, winning awards (James Beard), helping improve childhood nutrition (Common Threads) and having a great time along the way. We chatted with the chef about burgers, duck in a cup and being an unofficial Festival host.
You’ve been involved in the Festival for a decade – how do you keep it fresh?
We make sure we’re always doing new flavors. Every time I do something it’ll be something that I’ve never done. We’re always coming up with new fun crazy things
What are your favorite Festival events?
Definitely the Burger Bash. I’m a big burger girl and I really enjoy a good burger, it was awesome. None of the events suck, that’s for sure. I try to go to as many as I can if I’m not working at the restaurant because there are so many VIPs in town.
Right, you must pull double duty Festival week
I always feel like an unofficial host. We have to look good for our city and be at our places to welcome everybody in. Last year Bobby Flay and Tom Colicchio and Michael Symon were all sitting at a table at Sra. Martinez and I was so nervous I wanted to throw up.
What are you cooking for Best of the Best?
It’s a little contorted, but it’s going to be a glass with layers of foie gras mouse and duck pate and crispy duck skin with kumquat gel and maybe some shredded duck leg layer in there. I’m trying to get as much duck as I can into one cup.
What’s unique about Wine + Dine + Design?
You get to be so much more part of that dinner rather than just sitting down randomly and having a meal. The chefs all come out, you get to talk to them, you get to walk around the streets and get to know the restaurant a little more. My parents went last year and they met all these friends. And this year we’re bringing in chef John Besh to share the spotlight, I think he’s a badass.
And to cap it all off, Fun & Fit as Family too!
For me, it was natural [to be involved] – I’ve tried to do it every year. I love it, the kids are so sweet and they get so excited. My first year I was terrified, but it’s great.
Michelle Bernstein’s Top 10 Miami Restaurants
- La Camaronera
- Hy Vong
- Sushi Deli
- Le Sandwicherie
- Shake Shack – I like the single because you can get it all into one bite
- Mandolin Aegean Bistro