New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's culinary all-stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city a unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
Like many chefs, Douglas Rodriguez has had a roller coaster ride of a career. Through all the openings and closings, TV fame, and accolades, Rodriguez maintains his title as the "Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine." The son of Cuban immigrants, Rodriguez was raised in Miami, fully immersed in Cuban-American cuisine. After perfecting his skills at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., he exploded onto the dining scene in 1989 with Yuca, the Coral Gables spot regarded as South Florida's original upscale Cuban restaurant.
At Yuca (an acronym for Young Urban Cuban-Americans), Rodriguez gave locals a first taste of "Nuevo Latino" eating, a combination of traditional Latin ingredients and South, Central, and North American cooking. By pioneering this practice, Rodriguez quickly became the most celebrated chef in Miami, winning "Chef of the Year, Miami" award from The Chefs of America. Rodriguez took his talents to New York in 1994, where he opened restaurants Patria and Chicama, a Peruvian ceviche bar, along with Pipa, a tapas bar. He received the 1996 James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, and in 1998 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University. Rodriguez was nominated again by the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef South Florida in 2008 and 2009.
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