Mario Tolentino Takes Over BLT Steak, Says He Moved South For the Sunshine
|Mario Tolentino picks up where Sam Gorenstein left off at BLT Steak at The Betsy.|
That quandary has now been answered by the appointment of Mario Tolentino as chef de cuisine. The San Francisco native was a winner on Chopped, and has sous chef stints at both one and two-Michelin star restaurants (one of those being Michael Mina's Aqua in SF).
This NYC import made a name for himself by upping the ante on global examples of "street food" at Juliet Supper Club, but is leaving that restaurant after just over a year. We wondered what was behind his decision to abandon the glory of Manhattan's food scene to make Miami his home base. We discovered that like most who choose to relocate here, the city winters were just too much to bear.
He says, "I love New York. I lived in the East Village, which is restaurant mecca, but the allure of warm weather beckoned. I just didn't want to do another winter, I am a tropical person! And having lived and worked in Miami before, I always kept an eye on the restaurant scene here and watched it evolve. I'm excited to come back here and be a part of that."
More importantly, we wanted to know how his personal style will effect the menu at BLT Steak, particularly what we could expect from the always exciting "blackboard specials." We're curious about how his previous experience will mesh with existing offerings. "My menu at Juliet was pure street food and international flavors. Although it was well-received there, that menu would be a little out of place at BLT Steak. For the blackboard specials, I will pull from my international repertoire, a combination of French technique, seasonal produce, regional American cooking -- all with a touch of global flavor."
Of course, it is technically a steakhouse, so we had to ask Tolentino for his philosophy on cooking the perfect steak, which he says "is simple. You start with the highest quality meat, use a broiler for a great outer char and crust, and then rest the meat. I have also been a fan of basting it in butter with thyme and garlic for maximum flavor, which is exactly how the steaks are cooked at BLT Steak at The Betsy."
And how did he handle the audition? "Of course I did a tasting during the whole process of interviewing for the job. I did my best to cook the meat to perfection, and I guess I succeeded, because here I am."
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