BIO Nilvia Guerrero
Chef Nilvia's culinary journey started in México where she is originally from. As a country, Mexico is famous for possessing one of the most authentic and delicious gastronomies in the world, and under that context Nilvia grew up in a family and culture where every celebration was surrounded by food. She always saw the love and dedication her mother, grandmother and aunts gave while cooking and how that made people happy, so she decided to study culinary arts at the first culinary school in Latin-America Colegio Superior de Gastronómia in México City. When she graduate she moved to Grapevine TX, to do a one year internship at Gaylord Texan Resort, after that she moved back to México as the head Chef of an industrial dining room at Pemex.
In 2015 a great opportunity to come back to the U.S. presented, but now in Miami, at St Regis Bal Harbour luxury hotel, after that she worked at 1 Hotel South Beach on beachcraft by Tom Colicchio After one year she took an opportunity to work at Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman for almost 3 years, to then open Bachour restaurant in coral gables as a Savory Sous chef. Now she is back at Los fuegos cooking with wood fire Authentic Argentinian Asados. Nilvia is a proud Mexican chef so she always tries to use a Mexican ingredient or techniques when she cooks.
BIO Karina Rivera
Born and raised in Mexico City, Chef Karina Rivera studied Culinary Arts at Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City. In 2010 she did a semester abroad in Madrid at Universidad Camilo José Cela, she graduated in 2011 and took her first formal job as a pastry cook at Celebrity Cruises. After that, she did an internship at St Regis hotel in Bal Harbour, where she met Chef Antonio Bachour.
During that time she assisted in the elaboration of his books and became the pastry chef for his first business Bachour Bakery and Bistro and then Head Pastry Chef of Bachour Miami.
Additionally, she travelled with him around the world assisting him in international events and pastry masterclasses. She also has dictates classes in Miami and México City.
In 2018 she founded Women Chefs 305 (@womenchefs305), an organization that’s purpose is to bring together all the women in the food and beverage industry in Miami and promote equality between both genders.
With more than 60 K followers on Instagram she inspires pastry aficionados and professionals with her sweet creations, specially her tempting macarons.
Finalist at the Food Network´s Spring Baking Championship season 4 she is now the Head Pastry chef of Novikov Miami.
From his early years, growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Torres found a love for food through family. The kitchen was the heart of the house as it is in many cultures. They were the memorable moments Torres shares with his mother and younger brother. Torres began his young years learning his way around the kitchen with his mom. She taught him favorite traditional plates of the Latin culture and the most loved all-American classics. Torres could now cook for his younger brother and himself while his mom went to work. Contributing to the family dynamic as a child, Torres looked after his younger brother and cooked delicious plates like the Puerto Rican comfort food, Arroz con Gandules, to his brothers all American favorite, Philly cheesesteak. His little brother loved his cooking, and so did his mom. As he grew comfortable in the kitchen, he started creating his own dishes. His mother aware of his developing skills and dedication to cooking through the years encouraged him to explore culinary as a career.
Torres decided to look deeper into what he loved and moved Miami, Florida to enroll into Johnson and Wales for a culinary education. Later, an internship opportunity presented itself in Ireland, and Torres jumped at the chance to study abroad under chef Paul Mc Donald at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, a five-star leading hotel. A graduate from Johnson and Wales, Torres continued to pursue his passion and embarked on his career working in the kitchen for Sushi Samba, Wish and Nobu. His apprenticeship under his mentor Thomas Buckley from Nobu inspired Torresto to dive further into the art of culinary. He continued his career opening Zuma and later opening The Dutch.
Torres explored the world’s great culinary regions beginning with Spain.
Torres worked for Martin Berasategui, a Basque chef and owner of an eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria in Spain, which has been awarded three Michelin stars since 2001.
It was a once in a lifetime experience learning under the chef, the full production of real fine dining, and working with a large kitchen team. Torres continued his adventure for creative inspiration over the years which now translates into his artisanal skills. Torres is innovative in the kitchen bringing his travels into his dishes.
Traveling and discovering new delicacies from many places including Northern Europe, Italy, Japan, Northern Thailand, South Korea, Bali, Jakarta and Panama influences Torres to be inventive while creating his dishes. I take what I like from those regions, and I incorporate it into my cuisine. I like when people try my food, and they smile, and they have a pleasant reaction. Being at the right place and the right time in life, in 2014 the stars aligned and Torres was introduced to the partners behind a new Asian concept rolling out into the Miami market, Drunken Dragon by Homecookin Hospitality Group. Torres was appointed Executive Chef and given full creative control. Fast forward to the present, Drunken Dragon is one of the favorite restaurants in Miami receiving multiple awards for its cuisine and design elements.
Miguel Massens Bio
Diego Oka's Bio
Diego Oka’s distinguished, globetrotting career owes much of its start to a chance encounter in a supermarket. While studying culinary arts at Lima’s Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, a young Oka ran into Chef Gastón Acurio, who agreed to let him complete his required internship at Astrid y Gastón. After graduating in 2001, Oka spent a year and a half as a line cook at Ichi Ban Japanese restaurant before Acurio lured him to Tanta Restaurant to groom the young cook into the executive chef of his next restaurant. In 2004, Oka opened Sogo Room Bar & Restaurant but left after six months, deciding he had more to learn before becoming “a boss.”
Acurio put Oka to work preparing for the opening of the first La Mar Cebicheria, which Oka opened in 2005 as executive chef. Just over a year later, he left to open La Mar in Mexico City, where he stayed three and a half years before returning to Lima to launch the La Mar concept in Bogotá, Colombia. After spending a year and a half in Colombia, Oka moved to open yet another La Mar—this time in San Francisco, where he stayed for two years. In 2013, Oka opened La Mar in Miami, where his marriage of Peruvian, Japanese, and (now) South Florida influences have crystallized. Establishing roots in Miami, Oka is stepping out of Acurio’s grand shadow and making a name for himself as an American forerunner of Peruvian cuisine.
Carlos García's Bio
Graduated from Hofmann School of Hospitality in Barcelona, he did an internship in several restaurants, among them Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca, and Mugaritz. He served as chef Malabar in Caracas where he achieves important awards for his international and creative cuisine. Since 2007 he is co-owner and chef of Alto in Venezuela capital.
Carlos Torres Bio
Miami Born and raised in Colombia, Carlos Torres started his career in New York City 15 years ago, working at upscale restaurants Lucy Latin Kitchen and Pipa. After a few years, he decided to move to Miami where, by the side of Douglas Rodriguez -the Father of Nuevo Latino- he developed his culinary skillset and focused on Latin cuisine. Working at Douglas's signature restaurant OLA and then opening De Rodriguez Cuba at The Astor and De Rodriguez Ocean at the Hilton Bentley Hotel, he worked his way up to Executive Chef before his 30's. In 2011, Torres won the Miami New Times Iron Fork Competition and was recognized as one of the next super chefs by Aventura Magazine.
In his early career, he also worked under local Chef Michelle Bernstein and Michael Mina's signature restaurant, Bourbon Steak in Aventura.
In 2012, Chef Torres joined 660 at The Anglers Hotel as Executive Chef, where he was able to develop his signature menu with bright flavors and creative dishes.
Before joining BTL Steak at the end of 2014, Torres created and developed his own restaurant concept called Roots and Freens, where he offered plant-based options with back to basics techniques and processes. While at BLT, he created unique dishes that showcased his refreshing culinary point of view.
Torres opened three restaurants from the hand of acclaimed Michelin Star Chef Laurent Tourondel. In 2015, he led the transformation of Tourondel's signature steakhouse: BLT Steak into LT Steak & Seafood at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach and was part of the development process of two additional concepts: The Alley (Italian Cuisine) and La Ventanita, as part of the property's expansion.
He was invited back to join BTL in 2017 to open their upscale South Beach location, adding his Latin flavors to the traditional steakhouse. For the following years, Torres was instrumental for the company, leading locations in Hawaii and the company’s flagship restaurant in New York City.
Upon his return to Miami, Torres wanted to keep growing and joined Swan Restaurant, managed by Groot Hospitality, where he was able to implement his knowledge on managing kitchens and big crews as well as being part of the creative development of dishes with Corporate Chef Freddy Vargas, while also working to develop Groot’s most recent concept: Papi Steak.
He was recently contacted by Villa Azur’s ownership to be their Corporate Chef and support planning their brand’s expansion and opening three restaurants by 2020 in other parts of the United States, as well as another couple of ventures in Mexico where they recently opened a restaurant in early 2019.
Torres enjoys implementing traditional cuisine techniques while adding playful Latin flavors to his dishes. He believes in leading by example, finds fulfillment by overcoming challenges and creating personal relationships with the people he works with, as he believes that they, as one team, are part of the success.
Edgar Leal Bio
How do you culminate 30 years of experience that include early seasoning at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, earning an A.O.S and internships with Daniel Boulud in New York City and Ferran Adria in “El Bulli” in Barcelona, Spain?
You begin your dream.
Edgar Leal is an accomplished and impassioned chef who has filtered a global experience to created one of South Florida’s most critically acclaimed restaurants.
A creative and cultured free spirit, Chef Leal crafted his own destiny at the age of seventeen, when he decided to take his place in life as a chef; and to make a name for himself in doing so.
Chef Leal began as an apprentice cook under the guidance of Chef Marc Provost, at Gazebo Restaurant in his native Caracas, Venezuela. After two years of impressive growth and an outstanding and conscientious work ethic, Leal had the opportunity to work under Chef Pierre Blanchard at Deuxième ètage Restaurants, in Caracas.
Following six years of disciplined application and highly detailed execution of his responsibilities, the industrious Chef Leal accepted an opportunity to work at Casa Carmona Restaurant in Seville under the hand of Chef Iñaqui Izaguirre, winner of the National Award of gastronomy in Spain.
Two years of Spain and the environs of Europe, where he was able to reach into a variety of cultures including France and Monaco, gave Chef Leal a new depth and just enough restlessness to return home to forge a fresh path. He became the Executive Chef at ARA Restaurant Group, including ARA, the Nouveau Grill and the Hotel Lido. With Chile as his next destination; Chef Leal served as Guest Chef in the Marriot Hotel, Santiago de Chile, where he participated in a festival by changing the entire menu for a week. He was then invited to return to Europe by “Le Café de Paris” Monte Carlo, Monaco, to work his culinary prowess for their gastronomical weeks.
Food has been a gateway to the world for Chef Leal, a pathway through many countries and cultures. As he continues to perfect his craft, he has come to be noticed as the Ambassador of Latin American Cuisine in the world. The seventeen year old with a constant and tremendous talent has blossomed into an urbane young man of impeccable taste, unquestionable talent and accomplishment. His vision remains fresh, because he continues to raise his standard.
The dream? Cacao Restaurant, Leal Restaurant Caracas and Leal Bistro & art wynwood.
Chef Leal opened Cacao in Coral Gables in October 2002, with his wife Mariana Montero De Castro, Chef de Cuisine and Patissier of the restaurant.
Cacao Restaurant was named Best New Restaurant by Food & Wine, Florida Trend Magazine and The Miami Herald, and Coral Gables’ Most Accomplished Restaurant by Wine Spectator. Chef Leal has been featured by The New York Times, Time Magazine and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show. Chef Leal was named StarChefs Rising Star in 2004, along with Best Restaurant in Miami by Food & Wine. In 2007, Cacao was named one of America’s top 10 restaurants in Miami/South Florida by Zagat’s Restaurant Survey. Most recently, Wine Spectator Magazine recognized the restaurant with an “Award of Excellence” for their prized wine list.
In 2006, Chef Leal was commissioned by Antonio Ochoa-Piccardo, Architect and Owner of Tao Tie Yuan Restaurant in Beijing, China, to become Consultant Chef for the very first Fine Dining Latin Restaurant in China. This same year, Chef Leal was chosen to represent the Miami Region during the “Miami-Latin America Food Festival” at the Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski Istambul, Turkey, one of the finest luxury hotels worldwide. The renowned Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo, Japan has also hosted Chef Leal’s creativity and majesty in the kitchen. That same year, Chef Leal had the honor of personally serving Princess Takamado of Japan, his fine culinary specialties during a “South American Gastronomic Festival” as part of an international cultural exchange event.
In 2007, Chef Leal was selected as a Distinguished Visiting Chef by Johnson & Wales University in Miami, FL. One of the nation’s most prestigious culinary arts institutions, Johnson & Wales’ Distinguished Chef Series was established in 1979 to honor outstanding culinarians and, at the same time, provide an expanded learning experience for culinary art students while raising scholarship funds for students in need of financial help. In addition, Chef Anthony Bourdain and Chef Edgar Leal held a management and leadership conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Chef Leal’s home town, in August 2007 to aspiring restaurant students.
In 2008, Cacao Restaurant was featured and named best Venezuelan restaurant in the Food & Drink section of The Wall Street Journal. Recently, Chef Leal was selected to co-host a cooking show for CASA Club TV, La Cocina de Edgar leal, which will air all over America, Spain and Portugal.
Now Chef Leal, runs his owned restaurant in wynwood Called Leal Bistro & art and also runs in Caracas a restaurnant called Leal restaurant.
With Leal Restaurant Edgar won the Silver Spoon in 2015, the most prestigious award that a Venezuelan can get in the country.
Many honors have been awarded to Chef Leal, but two of the closest to heart are the fact that he is the first Venezuelan to present a dinner at the James Beard Foundation House in New York City (December 2003/July 2005) as well as receiving a Special Appreciation Award by Easter Seals for his dedication in implementing culinary mentor programs designed to enhance the capabilities of young individuals with special needs. Edgar Leal: dreamer, traveler, an Ambassador; but most of all, a Chef.