Featured Chef July 27, 2012

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Meet the city's best chefs


Michelle Bernstein

Owner + Chef

Sra. Martinez Design District

“You don’t need heavy handed technique and over the top presentations to make a dish work. It’s about amazing ingredients, layered flavors and simplicity. I cook the food I love and I think that love translates to the diners.” - Michelle Bernstein

Awards & Accolades

“Best New Restaurants in America", Esquire, 2009

Food + Wine Go List, 2008

Travel + Leisure Go List, 2008

James Beard Award winner, "Best Chef South", 2007

Best New Restaurant, Food + Wine, 2006

Featured In

Iron Chef America, Melting Pot, Top Chef, Despierta America, Today Show, Check, Please! South Florida

Chefs > Sra. Martinez > Michelle Bernstein

Chef Recipes 2

Endless Fried Chicken

Endless Fried Chicken • Recipe

Fried chicken is the epitome of a summer favorite and Chef Michelle Bernstein's version of this classic is quick and easy to make, so enjoy!

Greek Watermelon Salad

Greek Watermelon Salad • Recipe

Chef Bernstein's refreshing salad will surprise you and your guests with how well the flavours work together.


Michelle Bernstein

Owner + Chef

Sra. Martinez Design District

Since the pivotal Mango Gang era in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, almost no other Miami chef has made as big a splash on the national culinary scene as Chef Michelle Bernstein.  A Miami native of Jewish and Latin descent, this passionate culinaire has dazzled diners and critics alike with her sublime cuisine and a personality as bright and vibrant as the Florida sun.  “My food is luxurious but approachable,” says Bernstein, a James Beard Award winner (Best Chef South 2008) and author of Cuisine a Latina (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008). 

Right now, diners are loving Bernstein’s cuisine at her two successful South Florida outposts:  Michy’s, her cozy, haute neighborhood haunt on Miami’s Biscayne Corridor, and Sra. Martinez, her eclectic tapas restaurant in the burgeoning Miami Design District, dubbed one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” of 2009 by food critic John Mariani in Esquire magazine.  Practically within walking distance of each other (“Makes commuting a lot easier,” quips Bernstein), both display the earnestness, passion and dedication that have made Bernstein one of the region’s brightest culinary stars. 

A former professional ballerina and honors graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Bernstein (40) cut her teeth with the likes of iconic chefs Mark Militello and Jean Louis Palladin before drawing the national spotlight in the late 1990’s as executive chef of Tantra on Miami Beach.  There her sensuous cuisine and made-for-TV personality launched her career as a media darling and catapulted the restaurant to international fame.  In 2001, she took the helm of Azul at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, drawing acclaim for her sophisticated haute cuisine, including kudos, again, from Esquire magazine food critic John Mariani, who dubbed Azul the “Best New Restaurant in America.”  That same year she joined the Food Network as co-host of the show Melting Pot, where she introduced many Americans to the art of Nuevo Latino Cuisine.  Bernstein would return to the Food Network years later to battle Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, from which the Miami chef emerged victorious.

In 2005, Bernstein departed Azul to open Michy’s with her husband and business partner, David Martinez, a seasoned industry veteran.  The opening of Michy’s signaled the arrival of the burgeoning Biscayne Corridor area as a fertile fine dining destination.  Serving delicious, haute cuisine in a warm, unpretentious setting, the gourmet, neighborhood haunt was quickly dubbed one of the “Top 50 Restaurants in the Country” by Gourmet and “Best New Restaurant 2006” by Food and Wine. 

Beyond her trio of restaurants, Bernstein is keeping busy.  The sixth season of the Emmy-nominated PBS weekly television series, Check, Please! South Florida, which Bernstein hosts, has just begun airing and the chef continues to consult for Delta Airlines, creating in-flight menus for First and Business Class Elite.  In addition, she continues to appear on national television shows, ranging from Top Chef and The Today Show to the Martha Stewart Show, and Univision Network’s top-rated morning show, Despierta America.

Last year, Bernstein launched the Miami chapter of Common Threads, an after-school program she fell in love with while visiting Chicago.  Started in Chicago by Chef Art Smith, Common Threads is dedicated to teaching underprivileged kids ages 8-11 to cook, socialize, and eat healthy one recipe at a time.  In the fall of 2009, Bernstein and Martinez launched Michelle Bernstein and MB Terrace at the gorgeous Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.  She is currently working with the Miami-Dade Public School system on a chef partnership – for which she’s enlisted a number of fellow South Florida chefs – dedicated to improving the quality of cafeteria food in schools throughout the county.  In addition, Bernstein has partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools!, a major new White House initiative targeting childhood obesity and the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals via school gardens.

In April 2011, Bernstein launched her vibrant new collection of cookware and cutlery sets “Michelle B,” on Home Shopping Network (HSN) through Fagor America.  Her line includes a selection of well crafted, elegantly designed pieces that Bernstein selected herself, making sure that every piece was constructed with only the finest materials and the most up-to-date technology.

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