Miami Beach

A brand new chef is setting sail at our award-winning seafood restaurant here in South Beach. Lure Fishbar South Beach, our elegant seafood brasserie and bustling cocktail bar at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, is pleased to welcome new head chef Reinier Mendez to the team.

Mendez, a Cuban-born chef who has spent the past 12 years honing his culinary talents in Miami, brings his passion for fresh, simply prepared seafood to Lure Fishbar. Let’s get to know him!

Tell us a little bit about your culinary background, and what’s led you to your new role at Lure Fishbar today.

I did all of my culinary schooling in Cuba, where I worked at several restaurants and hotels. Twelve years ago, I came to the United States looking to be a chef here, which is very competitive. I began working as a line cook and due to my skills, kept getting promoted. Since coming to Miami and prior to joining the Lure team, I’ve worked at STK, W South Beach, Novecento in Key Biscayne, Alba Italian Seaside, and restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.

What got you interested in cooking in the first place?

I feel a great closeness to the sea. As a kid, I would go fishing as often as I could. I love fishing – that’s all I need for a happy life. My brother was a chef as well, and that got me into cooking. I helped him with his work, and in front of my house in Cuba there was a restaurant, so I started jumping in and taking shifts. I’ve been cooking seafood ever since.

Grilled Octopus and Mussels

Grilled Octopus and Mussels

Working at Lure Fishbar now must feel like a perfect fit for you.

Exactly. I strongly believe that seafood is not something to play around with. If you have very fresh fish, all you have to do is grill it perfectly and sell it. I don’t think you have to add a lot of sauces and camouflage the dish with too many things. That’s essentially what I want to bring to Lure Fishbar – I want to source really great products and serve it to the table as it is.

Lure’s Grilled Whole Daurade represents exactly what I think seafood should be. Grill it, add a touch of salt, lemon, a little bit of dressing on top, and that’s it. And it’s the best-seller.

Grilled Whole Daurade

Grilled Whole Daurade

Would you say seafood is also your favorite food to eat?

I like seafood a lot, but since I eat it so much and I’ve spent so many years cooking it, I love eating Cuban food. Rice, beans and pork. My grandma makes white rice with fried egg and banana. That’s a classic dish. I love that. That’s what my mom also makes for me every time I go to see her.

What do you make for yourself at home after a long day in the kitchen?

My fiancé cooks for me – she knows I like rice and beans so we always have that at the house – but when I have a party, I’m the one cooking. I’ll make a very nice barbecue. I roast a whole pig. I also like to eat a lot of raw products from the sea, like sashimi and oysters.

Seafood Stuffed Dungeness Crab

Mixed Seafood-Stuffed Dungeness Crab

What about being in Miami, and cooking in Miami, inspires you?

In Cuba, we didn’t have the opportunity to own our own boat. So when I saw that you could have your own boat here — put it in the back of your truck, and go home — I was like, ‘Ahh, that’s crazy!’ So I went and bought my boat. I love taking my boat, dropping it in the ocean and catching some fish. Sometimes I eat it right away.

What do you do on your days off?

At night, I go out to dance – I love salsa. I go to Mango’s or any Latin place.

Try Chef Mendez’s culinary creations during Miami Spice. As part of the citywide restaurant promotion, Lure Fishbar is offering a 3-course dinner menu for $39 throughout August and September.

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