Eat a Penguin: Chef Josh Becker Interview, Part 2

Categories: Chef Interviews
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Ritz-Carlton
Chef Josh Becker enjoying the view.
This past Friday, we shared Part 1 of our interview with chef Josh Becker of the DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. If you missed it, you can read it here. In Part 2, Josh talks about his dream job and fantasy "protein."

New Times: What are you featuring for the spring and summer months?

Chef Josh Becker: What we wanted to do for spring is have a health-focused menu, so we changed a lot of the lettuces around. We have a curly spinach that's just really high in nutrients and beautiful. We've got a multigrain cappellini that I'm excited about. It's really tasty and so good for you. We showcase a lot of fresh vegetables: We've added ramps; for a while we had fiddlehead ferns. Now we feature peas and asparagus with the pasta.

I want the food to be bright, to be exciting, and I want it to be something surprising to you -- something you haven't experienced before. Our tuna carpaccio is a great example, and it's something I'm most proud of.

That's the kind of direction I wanted to drive toward. We'll have a renewed focus on cold soups, mints, flavors that make you feel cool, especially going toward the summer in Miami Beach.

What do you do when the local growing season ends?

There are ways around it. There are other not-local, slightly bigger farms that I have a great relationship with. I work with farms in California and Colombia. You have to source the right people that you want to work with.

I love talking with these purveyors about produce. You can hear how excited they get. Those are the kind of people I want to buy from because that love translates into their food, and the love I put into their food is like a compounding effect. It's impossible to go wrong.

There are many chef shows on television, and a lot of those chefs come from South Florida. Any interest in appearing on TV?

People look at me like I'm crazy when I say this, but I don't ever watch TV. I've never, ever been excited by it, so the short answer is no. However, the businessman/chef in me appreciates the kind of exposure it does for your restaurant and your career. I would definitely listen to what someone had to say if I was approached, but I always have these visions of people waiting for seven hours like at American Idol, and that's not for me.

If the Ritz-Carlton people came to you and said, "Josh, we love you. You can be the executive chef at any property we have," where would you go?

If I could pick anywhere... and it's not even in the works yet, it's not even open, but I would tell you the Ritz-Carlton Buenos Aires in a second.

I was on a trip to Mendoza a couple years ago, and I fell in love with Argentina instantly. Amazing, amazing place, Argentina. I'm planning on going again in September, and I can't wait. I really want to make it up to more of the north too. I really want to explore the country.

I've never been. But I would like to go to southern Argentina to see penguins.

I've always wondered what a penguin would taste like. Probably delicious. Of course you have to trim away that fatty layer, but you render that fat down and you baste the bird in its own fat -- it's got to be amazing -- no? One of these days I'll meet you in Patagonia and we'll see. I'll tell you it's duck and you'll love it.

Stay tuned for a recipe (no, not for penguin) from Chef Becker, coming soon.

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The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach

1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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