Finding Gaston Director Patricia Perez Talks Miami Film Fest Premiere

Courtesy Patricia Perez
Chef Gastón Acurio hard at work
For director Patricia Perez, the Miami International Film Festival will mark the end of an epic year. Her first feature-length documentary, Finding Gastón (Buscando a Gastón), which centers around the life and work of acclaimed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, has already traveled around the world a couple of times. It premiered last March in Lima, Peru, and has since traveled to and won awards in San Sebastián, Spain, New York City, Washington D.C., and Berlin.

Her work has been a chance to enlighten the world not simply about the incredible cuisine that Peru continues to export, but the individuals that make each and every dish possible-the farmers, the chefs, the culinary students hungry to give back to their homeland. For Perez, the last year has been the realization of a dream that was nearly twenty years in the making.

Ahead of Finding Gastón's Miami premiere, we had a chance to catch up with Perez to find out a little more about the origins of the film, and just how much it means to her. Born almost entirely out of chance, Perez never intended to become a documentarian. However, the call of her native country and the chance to follow one of the world's greatest chefs on a mission to change lives eventually changed hers, too.

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Ruth Reichl on Tasting Menus, Women in the Kitchen

Categories: Interviews

Former New York Times restaurant critic and Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl says although there's yet to be a female Daniel Boulud, there are more women than ever in kitchens.

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Zak Stern: The Bread Winner

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Stian Roenning
Zak Stern is trying to figure out how not to let his runaway success get too far ahead of him.
In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

Three years ago, life was much simpler for Zak Stern. The bearded wunderkind baker did all of his work in a small oven in his garage before eventually moving into a compact Hialeah workspace. Each day as the sun crested the horizon, a few dozen loaves finished developing a deep-auburn crust, and soon the precious packages were en route to a farmers' market.

These days, Stern -- AKA Zak the Baker -- still preps his bread before daybreak, but as he chats at one of the small tables in his namesake whitewashed Wynwood bakery/café, he's accosted by well-wishers and handshakes. An employee whispers in his ear about a restaurant on the phone that wants bread for a recipe it's testing. A boisterous line for avocado toasts and little glass jars of smoked whitefish stretches to the door.

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Panther's Joel and Leticia Pollock on Changing Local Coffee Culture: "There Aren't Baristas Falling Off Trees in Miami"

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Stian Roenning
Joel and Leticia Pollock: Caffeinated couple.
What began in a hip little shop in a once-blighted neighborhood has morphed into a drink that discerning diners seek in restaurants across Miami. First brewed in 2011, Panther Coffee has become required drinking for owners who aspire to greatness.

Sure, places might buy produce from Homestead and pork links from Miami Shores' Proper Sausages, but if the beans don't come from the Wynwood miracle, your place is unlikely to make the cut.

Panther owners Joel and Leticia Pollock have undertaken a Herculean effort to reform Miami, long a town solely of Starbucks and café con leche. Nothing is wrong with that more common stuff, but the Pollocks have built their business from nothing. They had to train locals before they could usher in a wave of change.

See also: Panther Coffee Opening in Coconut Grove

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At Blue Collar and Mignonette, Danny Serfer Serves Comfort With Style

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Seth Dixon
Danny Serfer: Comfortably stylish.
When Danny Serfer opened Blue Collar at the beginning of 2012, the chef/restaurateur had humble aspirations for the small restaurant on Miami's Upper Eastside. "I just wanted a job. I came back down here from New York and no one would hire me."

Instead of pounding the pavement, Serfer took a ballsier route and opened a restaurant that specialized in comfort food during a time when many Miami restaurants were trying to outdo one another with in-house DJs and molecular gastronomy.

See also: Danny Serfer's Mignonette Is Edgewater's Pearl

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Michael Mina on Chefs Needing Social Skills, Miami's Strip Steak

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Brandon David Demonbreun
Michael Mina: Strip star.
Pretend for a moment you're chef de cuisine at one of Michael Mina's 22 restaurants and want to add something to the menu. You must first face the "Recipe Exchange."

You conceptualize, execute, and sell the dish as a special for three days. Still like it? Good. Next, you upload a picture of it, the recipe (with measurements in grams), and its financial performance to the Mina Group's internal network, which is already abuzz with more than 32,000 recipes and 3,000 videos.

Then Mina, an Egyptian-born chef who built a culinary empire with partner and once-mulleted tennis legend Andre Agassi, sends his endorsement or changes. You have one week to produce an instructional video that the chef or any of his lieutenants can follow. It's then analyzed, scrutinized, tasted, and tinkered with until Mina and his most trusted advisers give it a nod or the ax.

See also: Michael Mina 74: Like You're at the Club, But With Really Fancy Food

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Gaston Acurio's Leche de Tigre Gang Makes Ceviche at La Mar

All photos by Carla Torres
Leche de tigre or "tiger's milk" gang
On Tuesday, world-acclaimed chef Gaston Acurio was joined by his leche de tigre gang and they continued their ceviche tour with a stop in one of the chef's outpost -- La Mar -- where Miami chefs and industry folks gathered for the chance to be in the presence of the culinary mastermind.

The Astrid & Gaston chef and owner recently announced that he'd be retiring from his beloved restaurant that was just named number two in Latin America after 20 years. We presume to do more stuff like traveling the world sharing the secrets of Peruvian cuisine, as he did Tuesday.

See also: Cavatelli Craze Hits Countless Miami Restaurants

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A Hilarious and Depraved Interview With Comedian Ralphie May

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Robert Sebree
Ralphie May is a sexy man!
Ralphie May is a funny bastard. He is astute, witty, and debauched. Just the sound of his Southern twang makes audiences smile. This former drug-dealer-turned-gourmet-chef-turned comedian will be in town performing at Magic City Casino Saturday, September 13.

New Times: I consider plumpish people, especially the affluent ones, as sort of food connoisseurs, akin to porn stars being sex experts. Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Ralphie May: Ya, I was a chef before making it in stand-up comedy. I cooked in the Four Seasons in Houston and then NOLA's, Emeril Lagasse's restaurant [in New Orleans]. I made different types of sauces that blew people away and got accredited.

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"Tea Is Hot:" Tracy Stern Talks Iced Tea at Christofle in Bal Harbour

Categories: Interviews

Photos by Carina Ost
Iced Tea Temptress.
"Tea is hot! Sorry, I had to," jokes Tracy Stern when asked about the current trend. Thursday, the woman behind Tracy Stern Tea & Co. Iced Teas and author of Tea Party set up shop at Christofle in Bal Harbour for the one-night-only event the Art of Entertaining With Tea. The French store that specializes in fine silver, from flatware to picture frames and other home accessories, is all about the art of the table. Justin Trabert, the national brand ambassador and store manager for Christofle, said he wanted to bring back a time when etiquette was about the host making everyone feel comfortable, not the scary word that intimidates guests.

Stern has the same mission and wants to restore some of the elegance of tea. She even designed her signature caddy tins with an old charm, but without the lock and key, so they are accessible to everyone.

See also: How to Stop Holding Your Utensils Like Weapons: We Talk to an Etiquette Expert

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How Tea Can Change Your Life, According to Master Tsai of Coconut Grove's Zen Village

All photos by Hannah Sentenac
Believe it or not, there's more to tea than Oprah's Starbucks Teavana line. Tea's healing history dates back a whopping 5,000 years, and ancient wisdom suggests its influence can be life-altering.

This potential impact on our modern lives is what Master Tsai, of Coconut Grove's Zen Village, is looking to share with over-stressed, over-burdened Miamians.

The cozy, interfaith community center has a tea room, where Tsai leads tea ceremonies, pours steaming cups of aged blends and schools folks on proper teaware.

See also: Ticety Iced Tea Bar Coming to Coral Gables

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