Best of Miami 2014: Here are Some of the People That Made Food Great
The 2014 edition of Best of Miami is live and it's filled with over 300 of our favorite restaurants, bars, shops...and people.
When you think about it, the entire issue is about people. After all, for every delicious burger or soul-satisfying cafe con leche, there's a person lovingly creating it. We've paid homage to some of the most creative people behind the bar and the line in our Best of issue. Read on as we profile some of the best and brightest people responsible for your meal.
See also: Best of Miami 2014
Best Bakery - Zak the Baker Wynwood Bakery & Cafe
It's May 4, 2014, and Zak Stern, standing atop a wooden counter in his brand new, gleaming white Wynwood bakery, is giving a godawful speech. He begins to talk about the challenges he and his wife, Batsheva Wulfsohn, have overcome, only to interrupt himself every time a familiar face passes through the bakery's open bay door. Zak the Baker, as he is known, smiles and stutters on his way to eventually thanking nearly everyone in the room. But not a person in the audience is put off by his address. First of all, their mouths are stuffed with delicious sourdough bread. Second, the speech is vintage Stern: Goofy, honest, and -- like his loaves -- all natural. It's been a decade since Stern dropped out of college to travel the world, along the way learning how to farm, bake, and make cheese in far-flung locales such as India, Sweden, France, Israel, and Italy. In 2011, he moved to Miami and began using the traditional methods he learned overseas in baking. He rented a shop in Hialeah and sold his loaves to heavyweights such as Steven Perricone and Michelle Bernstein. Soon his bread was in sandwiches at Panther Coffee and on charcuterie plates at Oak Tavern. But none of his past success compares to opening a bakery in the most bustling neighborhood in town. He now has his own mixer and oven, capable of churning out 140 loaves per hour. Tomorrow, Wynwood will wake up to the smell of sunflower and sesame, fennel and rye, olive and za'atar, walnut and whole wheat. So we can forgive Zak the Baker this Sunday evening as he struggles through his inaugural speech. Besides, it's not like we've got anything to say. Our mouths are stuffed with sourdough.
Best Bartender - Julio Cabrera
Courtesy Bombay Sapphire
There are many terms for the person who crafts your cocktail: Mixologist, bartender, barkeep. But it's best to just call Julio Cabrera a cantinero, the Cuban term for professional bartender. The word is romantic, conjuring up a sepia-toned image of a gentleman who prides himself on making the perfect drink for his guests at the Regent Cocktail Club; a man who believes that working a bar is a noble profession that requires the skills of historian, scientist, mathematician, chef, and psychologist, all in one. Julio Cabrera is all of that and more. This cantinero, in the classic sense of the word, is a master of all trades. When he's not posing for GQ or winning awards such as Most Imaginative Bartender from Bombay Sapphire's national competition, he's conducting pilgrimages to El Floridita Bar in Havana, where another cantinero, Constantino Ribalaigua, made daiquiris for a writer named Ernest Hemingway. "Bartender," "cantinero," whatever you want to call him, the dapper Cabrera is the epitome of what a master of his craft should be: A man who elevates his field by paying tribute to those before him and serving as a mentor to those coming up.