As a son of Puerto Rico and a resident of Miami Beach, Chef José Mendín blends cuisines and cultures with ease. His love of food, fostered by family, guided him to pursue a degree from Johnson & Wales University in Miami. Post-graduation, in 2001, his first big industry job came when he joined the team that opened Nobu Miami.
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Miami menu mixes Japanese food, European techniques and Latin American accents which helped form Mendín’s early culinary sensibilities. Daring combinations like jalapeno and gochujang hot sauce with subtle ingredients like miso, sesame and noodles at Nobu guided Mendín next to SUSHISAMBA where he became assistant corporate chef, overseeing all the brand’s U.S. locations. Mendín’s love of classic European techniques led him to Spain, where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, cooked for the prince of Spain and learned the importance of traditional—even ancient—recipes, like grilled octopus, croquetas de jamon and patatas arrubravas.A decade into his career, Mendín and partners launched Pubbelly Noodle Bar, and soon followed with the equally popular Pubbelly Sushi, the tapas-centric Barceloneta and the cocktail lounge Pawn Broker. Along the way, he has been recognized as a semi-finalist of the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: South” for five consecutive years from 2012-2016 and received national acknowledgements from Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Serious Eats, Departures and The Cooking Channel, among many others. “Balancing tradition and innovation is all about picking the right recipes and applying your own art to them. There is no innovation without tradition, and my goal as a chef is to make traditional food better with modern knowledge” says Mendín.Most recently, Mendín and his partners relaunched the growing restaurant empire as Food Comma Hospitality Group, and announced an ambitious new sustainability-focused concept Habitat, a rooftop restaurant at the luxury 1 Hotel South Beach.
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