I reside in Palm City, Florida.100 miles due north of Miami. About 1 hr drive. Close enough to get down to Miami for inspiration but far enough to be away from the hustle & bustle. I grew up in Miami in 70's & 80's but today the pace is too fast for me to enjoy a quality of life. I enjoy getting up early and going to bed early as well.
My Mother's claim is that when I was a small child around 1 I wouldn't play with my toys. I enjoyed pulling out all the pots & pans in the kitchen and messing around with them instead. My actual first culinary experience was with Doug Rodriguez. It was my first restaurant project, Wet Paint Caf on Lincoln Road opened in 1986. I was 24 years old and we hired Douglas, it was to be his first chef position. Over the next 2 years we developed what was to become Nuevo Latino. Or what we called it "New Miami American Cuisine"
My Mother always wanted for me to go to chef school, but my father wasn't having that so I attended University of Florida and received an MBA in Finance in 1984. I always enjoyed cooking & hosting friends over for dinner. I also enjoyed working and learning with talented chefs but I never envisioned being at the helm in the kitchen. "Too much work" I always imagined. In 2003 I published a Multimedia Interactive Cookbook "Bernie's Kitchen". As I was marketing the book I meet & was hired by Mitchell Kaplan at Books & Books to open a new caf on Lincoln Road, just down the street from where Wet Paint Caf was located almost 20 years earlier. He told me I could make up the menu and cook whatever I wanted, so I took the job as Executive Chef.
I attended Johnson & Wales University, but my real training was at my home. Just for the love of it, in my kitchen studio, creating food to be consumed by friends and family. Loving the enjoyment on their faces.
I have had the fortune of working with some very talented people. Number one inspiration is Douglas Rodriguez the innovator of Nuevo Latino, I call him a wonderful friend and an amazing artist. I also worked with Michael McCarty from Michael's in Santa Monica the father of New American Cuisine, he taught me "real quality" product.
I'm one that believes that to have an ethnic restaurant you have to be in an ethnic neighborhood. I have traveled the country extensively and have tried the food in most major American cities. I know that what separates Miami from the rest of the country is the incredible diverse blending of Latin American & Caribbean cultures.
Learn More About Bernie Matz
What is your earliest memory involving food or wine?
making hamburger helper. My mom would leave if for my brother and I when we were 8 years old. I was always the out of the two of us.
If you've participated in the Festival before, what is your favorite SOBEWFF memory to date?
The Day I met Wolf Gang Puck. He was signing a book and I was with Books and Books at the time and was able to hang out with him for awhile.
If you could cook with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I never leave home without my:
My usb drive. I am also moving around and coming up with new ideas for the restaurants. I like to make sure I can just add to it at any moment