Chef’s Corner with Douglas Rodriguez
With gustatory creativity, the globally-acclaimed “Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine” Chef Douglas Rodriguez has single-handedly changed the perception of Latin Food in America. Its no wonder then that Newsweek selected Rodriguez as “one of the 100 Americans that will influence the coming millennium”!
Making a name for himself across the country, Rodriguez now has restaurants in cities that include Philadelphia (Alma de Cuba), Arizona (Deseo), Chicago (DeLaCosta) and Miami’s Ola at the Sanctuary – where journeyPod recently had the opportunity to visit with him.
How did you get your start in cooking? Did you learn to cook at home? Where did you study?
I grew up in a Cuban-American home – always around the sites and smells of Latin food. I started cooking as a young child next to my Mom… and by the age of thirteen, I had a collection of cookbooks. I then went on to study at Johnson and Whales in Rhode Island.
Have you traveled anywhere that has influenced your flavors and recipes?
Everywhere I have traveled has influenced me greatly. I have been all throughout Europe and Latin America. I am going to Thailand [soon], so my next menus should be interesting…
If you were ever on Iron Chef, what ingredient would you hope would be the themed ingredient for the cooking battle?
Sausages – Encased meats. I love them!
Tell us about your Passport Menu:
We wanted to create a fun and creative way to introduce the cuisine of different nations to our guests, Miami locals and visitors. The Passport to Summer dining program offers a three-course prix fixed menu of classics from Brazil (June), Argentina (July) and Spain (August & September). The menus are $35 per person plus tax and gratuity. As part of the promotion, customers are given a “passport” – which, at the end of the meal, will be stamped with a visa for that country. We have featured cocktails and music from each country.
What’s an upcoming trend in cooking?
Bold bright flavors. People want to taste what’s in their food… not to be covered by heavy sauces.
Name three things you can’t cook without:
A Japanese Mandolin, a knife, and my creative imagination.
What’s the most exotic ingredient you’ve ever used?
I cannot say… you may get grossed out.
Do your friends call you for cooking advice?
All the time.
What do you like to do when you’re not cooking?
I love spending time with my family. Since I travel so much with work, our time together is cherished.
It’s 2 a.m. … you’re leaving work, where do you head for a cocktail or a late night snack?
Which city? New York – Blue Ribbon, Miami – the OLA kitchen.
Ola – Talk about mouth-watering… Nuevo Latino cuisine was born at this top-notch spot (located at the Sanctuary Hotel at 1745 James Ave.). Offering Latin-Caribbean-Spanish infused dishes (and desserts of sweet ecstasy), Chef Douglas Rodriguez knows how to satisfy! Recently named “Most Important Latin Chef” by Zagat, Rodriguez certainly wows all by giving personal Ceviche and Mojito- making classes. Go for The Ola Passport, which offers a monthly 3-course menu highlighting dishes from various Latin countries. The Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche and the Skirt Steak Churrasco deserve praise – as does the Deconstructed Key Lime Pie.
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 Ola!