Today’s Chef in the Spotlight is Gabriel Fenton, Executive Chef at Bourbon Steak Miami. Bourbon Steak is a Michael Mina Restaurant located in the Turnberry Isle resort in Miami. Gabe Fenton’s quiet and understated manner is similar to that of his boss Michael Mina. While Fenton adheres to Mina’s style he has also created a culinary identity of his own with innovative specials like lobster-stuffed tempura squash blossoms with truffle vinaigrette and apple cider–glazed pork belly; it is this culinary wanderlust that has caught the palates and the buzz of many South Florida food enthusiasts. This week we learn a bit more about the man driving the quiet success of Bourbon Steak Miami, I present this week’s Chef in the Spotlight, Gabe Fenton
South Florida Food and Wine: Where do you get your culinary inspiration?
Gabe Fenton: I mostly get my inspiration from visiting local farms and from products that come into season. For example, right now soft shell crabs are in season and I like to do something different with them every year. I was recently inspired by a Mexican tamale dish that one of my chefs brought into the restaurant. So I came up with a dish of my own made with fire-roasted corn salad, charred jalapeno, pickled onions, lime juice and queso fresco served with a couple sauces using cilantro from a local farm and topped with warm soft shell crabs. It’s something different for us and has been a hit at Bourbon Steak.
South Florida Food and Wine: When did you realize that cooking was your passion?
Gabe Fenton: My family cooked daily at home, but my true realization came when I was around 17-years-old while working at a pizza restaurant in New Jersey. An Italian family from Naples took over and started making everything from scratch in the traditional way. Their love and passion for food was off the charts.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite item on your menu at Bourbon Steak?
Gabe Fenton: New England clam chowder because it reminds me of home. We’re bringing in fresh clams twice a week, shucking them to order and frying them in cornmeal. It’s just like you would get at the clam shacks in Cape Cod.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite dish to make at home?
Gabe Fenton: Whole-roasted chicken with lemon, parsley, and garlic stuffed under the skin.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Gabe Fenton: Salt. It’s good on everything and enhances flavor profiles. I have over 30 salts that I like to work with at Bourbon Steak and at home with my favorites being a Philippine sea salt and an Australian Murray River salt.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Gabe Fenton: Kids-menu style chicken fingers and an artisan pizza. I’m a child at heart.
South Florida Food and Wine: is the one person you would love to cook with and why?
Gabe Fenton: Chef Morimoto. I would love to learn more about Japanese food. It’s one of my favorite cuisines.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Gabe Fenton: Hands-down my guilty pleasure would be chicken fingers and artisan pizza.
South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at? other than your own.
Gabe Fenton: Juvia
South Florida Food and Wine: Who would you most like to cook for? And why?
Gabe Fenton: James Beard House. It has been a long-time goal of mine.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Gabe Fenton: Golf with my fiancée Ashley and then dinner with family.
Bourbon Steak Miami 19999 West Country Club Drive Miami, FL 33180 (786) 279-6600
Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale