This week’s Chef in the Spotlight is über-talented Andrea Sans-Araiza, pastry chef at Bourbon Steak Miami. About a year and a half ago I had dinner at Bourbon Steak and for dessert I ordered the Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Michigan Cherries. It was the first time I had ever had Andrea’s desserts and it left such an indelible mark that I asked to meet her in person and tell her what fantastic job she had done with the dessert; very rarely do I do this, but when someone has that certain je ne sais quoi, I tell them. Shortly thereafter the James Beard Foundation started taking submissions for chef award nominations and I submitted Andrea’s name. She’s just that good.
As a student at the French Culinary Institute in New York, Sans-Araiza interned with Bobby Flay’s pastry chef at Mesa Grill, and upon graduation she moved out west to Las Vegas to help open the Mesa Grill location in Caesars Palace. Sans-Araiza was with Flay for two and a half years before accepting a job with Bradley Ogden with whom she stayed with for four years. After six years in the desert it was time to move back to Miami. Sans-Araiza reconnected with a former co-worker at the Mina Group and landed herself the pastry chef position. Sans-Araiza has always said that “Desserts are an exact science”; taking her passion for this discipline coupled with her undergraduate degree in biology, has created a pretty sweet little corner of the world for herself. I present this week’s Chef in the Spotlight, Andrea Sans-Araiza.
South Florida Food and Wine: What made you choose your career path of baking and pastry versus culinary?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: The intensity and stress of the hot line did not appeal to me. I also have a biology degree so pastry just seemed like an extension of a lab experiment.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite dessert item to make?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: This time of year is probably my favorite because I enjoy making fall desserts. Apple, pumpkin and maple are some of my favorite ingredients to work with mostly because they work well in warm, mushy and indulgent desserts that are perfect for cooler weather.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: Salt because it greatly enhances the flavor of each component of a dish and makes everything taste brighter.
South Florida Food and Wine: You’re a great Pastry Chef, with that said, are you a good cook?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: I’m not a bad cook, but I don’t enjoy it as much as baking. Luckily, my husband is really good in the kitchen so we make the perfect balance.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to bake with and why?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved and admired Martha Stewart. She is honestly one of the main reasons and motivation behind why I went to culinary school. It would be a bit daunting to bake with Martha, but I would definitely be up to the challenge.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: I have a major sweet tooth so I have a number of guilty pleasure foods including Twizzlers, Starburst and M&M’s.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the last place you had dessert at, other than Bourbon Steak Miami and what did you order?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: I was just in France two weeks ago and we tasted all the classic French desserts with my favorite being a crêpe suzette at a little brasserie called Caves Madeleine in Burgundy.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to bake for and why?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: Other chefs in general because it is always exciting to present them with your desserts because you know that they can appreciate the time and thought that went into them.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Andrea Sans-Araiza: I’m from a Cuban family so we all like to get together on Sundays to cook and go swimming. It’s a day I truly look forward to and it really is fun.
Bourbon Steak Miami, A Michael Mina Restaurant 19999 West Country Club Drive Aventura, FL 33180
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