Steve Martorano, Makoto, Michelle Bernstein at Epicure's Cooking on the Courts Fundraiser
Lynn Parks Chef Makoto entertains Jorge and Darlene Perez at Cooking on the Courts II.
This past weekend, Jason and Diana Starkman opened their Bay Harbor home to 60 guests for a dinner party. Jason Starkman is owner of Epicure Gourmet Markets and Jerry's Famous Deli.
But it wasn't just any dinner party. The $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida -- titled Cooking on the Courts II -- invited some of South Florida's best chefs to cook and entertain the guests on Starkman's tennis court.
The dinner, in conjunction with a silent auction and tennis tournament, raised $100,000 for the charity, which featured Steve Martorano (Café Martorano), Michelle Bernstein (Michy's), Makoto Okuwa (Makoto), and Epicure's own Michael Love, Hector Morales, and Cyrille Morin.
Steve Martorano stole the show by making an entrance to Barry White. Martorano joked as he prepared stuffed mozzarella wrapped around broccoli rabe and toasted bread crumbs, saying "Anybody who knows me knows I'm sweating my balls off! What a great cause. I'm proud to be here." Always a self-promoter, Martorano shared the fact that he was missing for his "450 reservations at the Hard Rock" as he shared his background with South Florida's movers and shakers. "I'm self-taught. I never went to culinary school. My mother and grandmother taught me how to cook. I had a sandwich shop in the streets of Philly. Now I have four restaurants and a TV show pending with Mario Lopez. It will show restaurants that have been around for a long time and how they kept their restaurants. I'm anal. I keep my restaurants spotless, like my mom and grandmother."
Martorano also mentioned his search for the perfect South Beach location for a future Café Martorano.
Michelle Bernstein, who prepared the next course, noted, "It's tough to go after Steve Martorano." The charming chef prepared her mother's gnocchi dish, which she has been making since she was almost a toddler. Bernstein took the recipe a step further by adding foie gras and prunes: "My mom never made her gnocchi with prunes and foie gras." Bernstein also shared some of her favorite places to dine, including Sushi Deli and Makoto (for lunch with the girls).
Chef Makoto made a delicious Hawaiian mero sea bass with pickled vegetables, while Epicure's Michael Love created a mixed grill of lamb porterhouse served over sweet potato mash and mint chutney, and prime rib cap with white bean purée and peppercorn sauce.
All in all, it was a lovely evening of great chefs cooking for a worthy cause. Plus the bonus of knowing that a Martorano meatball is somewhere in South Beach's future.