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The Michy’s chef and Miami native on her hometown and local flavors — stone crabs, plátanos maduros (sweet plantains) and…strawberry shakes.

I knew I wanted to be a chef when…

I was working the line at a well-known restaurant 15 years ago and all the boys kept telling me I could never, ever be a chef and to just quit while I was ahead.

A holiday meal at my home involves…

A lot of cooking, a huge variety of foods and more plates than we can fit on a table, polished off with a touch of Latin-Jewish drama (just a little touch).

The word or phrase most overheard in my kitchens…

I definitely can’t say that in an interview. I’m a good girl!

My earliest food memory…

Strawberry shakes made right on Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead. They are still there!

The Miami of my youth vs. Miami now…

When I was growing up we were able to walk barefoot and keep our doors wide open; things seemed so much simpler and smaller. Not as many lights and a slower pace. It has now become more of a cultural mecca! Our flavors are more vibrant and we are finally investing more in our schools and parks. It’s more of a community!

First-time visitors to Miami must see…

Calle Ocho, Domino Park.

My favorite neighborhood in Miami…

Miami Shores, maybe because I grew up there. But I love the area near the open water — it’s always so quiet and peaceful.

Secret only a local would know…

If you can, stay off the roads before 9:30 AM and between 4:00 PM and 6:30 PM.

One dish you can only get in Miami…

Fresh stone crab next to black beans and rice, sweet plantains and a cold beer!

The quintessential Miami kitchen is never without…

Lots and lots of fresh limes and good chiles.

The one cookbook that inspires me most…

Maida Heatter’s Cakes. She is such a perfectionist and a local!

In the kitchen, nothing beats…

Silence.

Stationery courtesy of Mrs. John L. Strong

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