Chef’s Corner with Cory Smith
Although Santo in Miami boasts impeccable décor, ambience and stellar service… nothing compares to the main ingredient – the food, that keeps attracting people to this hip gastronomic spot.
Chef Cory Smith is the man with the magic who combines his extensive knowledge of international flavors and best products available in South Florida.
Cory has worked in the restaurant business since his teens – serving, bartending and even managing at various hotspots. He opened Coccola, a successful Italian restaurant in New Jersey shortly before he was offered the Sous Chef Position at Pacific Time in Miami. After Pacific Time closed back in June of 2007, Cory immediately took the position as Executive Chef at Santo.
The Texas-native has expertly fused together flavors from Italy, France and Spain labeling his menu as “worldwide cuisine”. With dishes like the Filet au Piovre and Poblano Red Snapper – Santo has become a true culinary hotspot.
When asked about his cooking style, Cory says “The ethnic diversity of the menu is like the dinner guests in Miami. They come from all over the world, and our food reflects this.”
Follow us for an inside look with this culinary magician…
How did you get your start in cooking?
As a kid growing up in Texas I would help my father barbecue and helped my mother prepare custom rubs. We had a large garden and I learned at an early age about seasonal cooking and using local ingredients.
If you were ever on Iron Chef, what ingredient would you hope would be the themed ingredient for the cooking battle? I would hope to use a potato as it is . Potato is very malleable and a good starting point for any dish.What’s an upcoming trend in cooking?
Back to basics with a focus on local ingredients and lower calories and smaller portions.
Where do you get your menu ideas?
I like to call my style “thoughtful” cooking where we create dishes that appeal to a wide range of tastes. I try to find a happy medium between what I think our guests want and what I think they will enjoy. And since we’re on South Beach we also have to have a calorie conscious menu.
What’s your favorite food? Favorite junk food?
I love traditional Mexican Food like homemade salsa and chips. And I also LOVE anything sweet!!!
Do you listen to music while you cook? What do you listen to?
We are lucky enough to work in a restaurant with a music director and DJs most nights so we have a speaker in our kitchen to keep us apart of the bear in the main room. I also love to listen to 80’s stuff, Dave Matthews, rock and heavy metal.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Not really, I love it all. Well, maybe Brussels sprouts, but only because my mother insisted that I eat them. Still not eating them up to this day though… maybe because I am still a kid! Sorry mama…
What would we find in your refrigerator at home?
A case of Corona and some fresh made salsa and guacamole. I eat most of my meals out.
On your night off, where do you go to eat in Miami?
I am good friends with a lot of the chefs here on the beach, so I stay local. I really enjoy finding the little hole in the walls, they usually turn out to be diamonds in the rough.
It’s 2 a.m. – you’re leaving work, where do you head for a cocktail or a bite to eat?
The real party is in full swing at Santo with our live band and DJ so I usually like to set up a table out front with other chefs and enjoy the door show. Other favorites include Dewey’s, a great neighborhood bar located on 9th & Alton Rd and also the 12B Tavern, a little 8-stool Irish Tavern… conveniently located at home!
Santo: The food and atmosphere at this trendy restaurant/ lounge deserve a perfect 10! Chef Cory Smith creates magic night after night with modern American dishes like Papardelle Taormina and Crispy Free Range Chicken. And, the innovative martinis like the White Chocolate and Raspberry are not to be missed. After dinner, head to the back of the restaurant to dance the night away to live music – you may even catch a glimpse of Lindsey Lohan or Trick Daddy. Psst… the tables at Santo fill up quickly, so make sure to make a reservation beforehand. Santo is located at 430 Lincoln Road.
Check out our Miami Destination Guide for more on what’s hot!
Also, visit our “I love Miami Spice Month” and “Taste of the Nation” roundup article where we highlight Santo.