Chef Mike Sabin of Prime One Twelve Explains What Happened to Nemo
|Photo by Gary James|
|Mike Sabin's got the chops. And the fins.|
And what we learned is, though he is elbow deep in beef night after night, his passion is really for the sea's creatures. More on that during the interview when he dishes on what the heck is going on with one of the beach's most beloved restos.
His ocean-related relationship most likely began in Hawaii where the lucky bastard got to go to high school. Surprisingly not every great island dish there incorporates seafood, however. "Hawaii is the only place that serves Portuguese sausage at McDonald's," he recalled. "It's part of the local cuisine. McDonald's also serves Spam." Turns out the pink stuff even appears in sushi rolls out there via Spam musubi. And, yes, Sabin likes the stuff.
Anyhow, the half-Italian Sabin was born in Baltimore and moved around a lot. "Dad was in the military," he explained, "but he never put us on military bases. We adapted really quick." The family traveled all over Europe in a Volkswagen bus and he said his fondest food memory from those days is tasting his first authentic French crepe.
As an adult, Sabin visited Miami and fell in love with the city, yet the thought of culinary school held no such romance. Sabin got hold of the CIA's books and pored over them until he got a good grasp of French technique.
He started as dishwasher and line cook at Starfish where Barton G. is currently. "It was a pretty hot restaurant," he recalled. "Back then I couldn't find jobs. I was probably the only caucasian dishwasher on the beach." After Starfish closed he headed to Nemo hoping to cook with a rising star you might have heard of: Michael Schwartz. He was soon hired as the first chef to work under Schwartz, learning techniques he had never seen before. The year was 1995.
After working up through the ranks, Sabin went to Jonathan Eismann's Pacific Time next, followed by a stint at Mark's. Then he went really big time, working as a sous chef at the famous Inn at Little Washington, a place he described as "immaculate."
Eventually Militello got him to come back, and he left yet again to do some consulting gigs which landed him in New York City during 9/11. Understandably his family didn't want to join him up there so he returned to Miami at the behest of Myles Chefetz. And the rest, as they say, is history.