Miami Living Magazine

Gloria & Emilio Estefan

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Page 88 of 179

PROFILE MIAMI LIVING 87 As 2009 begins, Miami Living thought it would be nice to launch a new tradition with a recurring feature called "Miami Shadow," in which we share with readers the stories of the people who make our city magic. We start this season in the kitchen at Lincoln Road's SushiSamba dromo, where we met Juliana Gonzalez and Sergio Navarro. This married couple has been helming the kitchen at the hot spot since 2007. She is the restaurant's chef de cuisine; he is the house's corporate pastry chef. Together, they are unstoppable. Gonzalez and Navarro have what one could argue is a typical meant-to-be story. While he opened La Broche in the Magic City, she interned at La Broche in Madrid. Their partnership at SushiSamba not only is a first for the restaurant, it is a first for them, too. In 2006, Navarro was brought on board as the expert in all things sweet. His goal was to revitalize a dessert menu that prior to his arrival was seemingly untouched. Since then, he has created and added items such as arroz con leche with saké gelatin, fresh mango, and dulce de leite ice cream, and três leite with guava espuma and cachaça flamed mango. After the closing of David Bouley Evolution at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, Gonzalez (formerly of The Restaurant at The Setai and Nobu) applied to become chef de cuisine at SushiSamba. The timing was perfect—the restaurant was bidding farewell to Jose Mendin, who was relocating to open SushiSamba Strip, an outpost in Las Vegas. Soon, she made the restaurant's menu her own—her signature touches include the Japanese wild mushroom toban yaki with poached organic egg, micro celery, and garlic chips, and the pan steamed pork gyozas with sweet onion compote and spicy ponzu. "SushiSamba is the ideal playground for a chef because of the rich offerings that come from Japan, Brazil, and Peru," she said. "One of my favorite things is seeing the reaction and appreciation from my customers." Edible love The happy couple, married for five years lives, leads a fulfilling life that includes work, hanging out with friends, and motorcycle riding. Gonzalez says sharing the same employer only works if you get along, though, which she confirms is the case in her and her husband's case. "We help each other out with different ideas, teach different cooking techniques, and always offer constructive criticism on different dishes," she said. "One of the best perks of all is we share the same vacation days!" Food is more than just a job or a hobby for these Miami residents; it also is a way to express their love for each other. After all, we all know that the fastest way to one's heart…. "If Juliana were one of her dishes she would be a moqueca," said Navarro about his wife. "She is sizzling and spicy." "If Sergio were one of his desserts, he would be a três leite," she said in turn. "He is sweet, organized, and always wearing his favorite color, SushiSamba orange." Sounds like a match made in culinary heaven. To see and taste Gonzalez and Navarro's magic, visit SushiSamba dromo, located at 600 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. For reservations and information, call (305) 673-5337. ML "Their partnership at SushiSamba not only is a first for the restaurant, it is a first for them, too." Miami Shadow: In the Kitchen With SushiSamba dromo's dynamic duo…. Words by Martin Haro Photo by Nils Erik.

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