Chef Michael Jacobs Feeds the Miami Heat
|Five feet and 10 inches of Heat feeding fury.|
Chef Jacobs, whose father owned a small catering business, remembers catering his own bar mitzvah. "My father and I, a week before my bar mitzvah, sat there in the kitchen of the temple and rolled spring rolls," he recalled. "One hundred and seventy eight of 'em. It's one of those things, growing up, you say I've known what I wanted to do for my entire life. But then again, now I really can't do anything else. I'm kinda stuck with it."
Cooking has been his main occupation for a quarter of a century. Chef Jacobs grew up in Boston, graduated from Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island, and landed his first gig in Jerusalem at the King David Hotel, which at that time was the only four-star restaurant in the Middle East. From there he worked in California, then with Terrance Brennan in New York, then over to Europe, then back to New York. Then 23 years old, he opened a restaurant that didn't quite work out the way he planned. "I made every mistake you could make," he admitted. "But it was a great learning experience."
After a brief consulting job in Japan where he helped a produce company adopt the local cuisine for a crepe cart (eel special, anyone?), he landed in Miami and became Adrienne Arsht's caterer. Yes, that Adrienne Arsht.
In the mid-'90s he got a call from one Tim Hogle asking him to co-create the menu for a restaurant focused on aphrodisiacs. Tantra was born and Jacobs was on the path to a stellar Miami career, with another stint on the top floor of the Miami Center Building.
Today he has strayed from love apples and oysters to smoothies and wraps, but his job as co-owner of Strategic Hospitality Group is still serious business. His responsibility not only includes keeping the tanks of Heat players and their coaches and training staff fueled, but also making sure the guys are satisfied and nutritionally fulfilled.