Lights! Camera! Eat! Miami’s top television personalities on where to eat and how to look good while doing it

Belkys Nerey, Roberto 'Kiko' Suarez and Lisa Petrillo at Michael Schwartz's Amara at Paraiso. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas. Hair and makeup by Gloria Pelo.

When you want to know the latest restaurant hot spot, you turn to one of the Magic City’s resident TV foodies: Belkys Nerey of WSVN’s Bite with Belkys, Roberto “Kiko” Suarez of Telemundo 51’s Qué Rico con Kiko, and Lisa Petrillo of CBS Miami’s Taste of the Town. From cooking in the kitchen with Miami’s best chefs to taste-testing the newest restaurant dishes, these gourmet gurus know the Miami dining scene inside and out. INDULGE sat down with the trio to find out what happens behind the scenes — and, of course, where to eat right now.

BELKYS NEREY

Gloria Pelo Felipe Cuevas Belkys Nerey Bite with Belkys
Belkys Nerey: Has a closet full of aprons in addition to her TV wardrobe. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas. Hair and makeup by Gloria Pelo.INDULGE

 

Show: Bite with Belkys.

Station: WSVN 7News.

When it airs: Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays during Today in Florida; 30-minute specials air quarterly.

Years in the TV biz: 27.

How did your show begin?

“In 2000, the Food Network was becoming a big thing and I was super into it. I pitched a segment to my boss, asking, ‘Why don’t I go into kitchens and cook with local chefs?’ So I went to all the cool, hip places, and we made recipes.”

What’s your best episode so far?

“That’s hard to choose. I did one with Morimoto, which was really fun, because I didn’t expect an Iron Chef to be as fun and animated as he was. He was a hoot!”

What’s your most embarrassing moment on camera?

“When I cook, all sorts of stuff happens. For example, I bought a brand-new food processor and I hadn’t used it. During filming, I couldn’t get the dang lid on! This is why, at the end of a 30-minute show, we add a blooper reel.”

What are your three favorite Miami restaurants?

“I like simple! I love BarMeli 69, Upland and Estefan Kitchen.”

Who’s a really fun celebrity chef to interview at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival?

“I love Rachael Ray — what she is on TV, she is in real life. She’s sweet, but she’s got some snark and sass to her. I love that.”

How do you prep for Bite with Belkys?

“I prep for two days before we film. All the chopping and dicing is already done; so it’s all sear it, fry it, and we’re done. If I bake a cake for a segment, I’ve actually made the whole cake the day before.”

How do you get food stains out of nice clothing?

“My advice: Always wear an apron. I have closet with at least 50 aprons! We rotate my aprons like I rotate my clothes to do the news.”

What advice do you have for budding chefs?

“I’m not a chef and I don’t claim to be one. Don’t be afraid! You’re better than you think. All you’ve got to do is try. Don’t try to make steak and foie gras. Make some tacos and get the seasoning packet — it’s fine! Start small and see where you go.”

ROBERTO ‘KIKO’ SUAREZ

Roberto Suarez que rico con kiko
Roberto ‘Kiko’ Suarez: Current favorites include La Mar, Naiyara and Red the Steakhouse. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas. Grooming by Gloria Pelo.INDULGE

 

Show: Qué Rico con Kiko.

Station: Telemundo 51/NBC 6.

When it airs: Fridays at 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Telemundo 51; Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. on NBC 6 in the Mix.

Years in the TV biz: 10.

What was your first TV job?

“I was an editor for Bite with Belkys. Small world!”

What’s your restaurant pet peeve?

“I’m really big on service. I had to teach myself not to overreact when it’s bad, because my wife gets mad at me.”

What are your top three Miami restaurants?

“My favorite right now is Naiyara. Everything there is so good, but that Papaya Salad is crazy — it’s so perfectly executed. La Mar by Gastón Acurio is my second favorite, and for steak: Red, the Steakhouse. Chef Peter Vauthy is awesome.”

What do you love most about your job?

“I love that I get to do everything. I write, I produce, and I scout the restaurants myself. My news director has really given me the freedom to be myself and give my own perspective.”

What’s your favorite episode?

“I’m picking two: ‘The Kiko Burger,’ where Pinch Kitchen came up with a burger in my name; that was really cool. And ‘The Kiko Shake,’ at Bocas Grill. It had three scoops of ice cream, an umbrella and a beach theme. It was really fun.”

What’s your most embarrassing on-camera moment?

“At Pinch I spilled something on my shirt and didn’t have anything to change into, so I had to film the episode with a stain on my shirt.”

How do you get food stains out of nice clothing?

“My stepmother says milk and vinegar can take out any food stains. Talcum powder can lift up tomato sauce or grease. Trust me, I’m the king of food stains.”

What’s your go-to Miami neighborhood for food?

“Little Havana. I think it’s at the forefront with new and interesting spots. I tried Sanguich de Miami the other day — spelled with ‘g-u-i’ like Abuelo says it. It’s in a transport container that’s super fancy, with gold trim and gold leaf. They make Cuban sandwiches or old-school shakes with a touch of modernism. It really impressed me.”

LISA PETRILLO

Lisa Petrillo CBS Michael Schwartz
Lisa Petrillo: Not a fan of blood sausage. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas. Hair and makeup by Gloria Pelo.INDULGE

 

Show: Taste of the Town.

Station: CBS 4 Miami.

When it airs: Thursdays at 6:50 a.m. and 5:55 p.m.; Sundays on CBS4 News Sunday Morning.

Years in the TV biz: 27.

How did Taste of the Town start?

“We started out doing Cheap Eats, then we morphed into Divine Dining, which was obviously higher-end places. They were two separate segments. About six years ago, my news director, Liz Roldan, came to me and put them all under one umbrella: Taste of the Town. Now we feature all price ranges!”

Top three Miami restaurants?

“A local favorite is BarMeli 69 — the owner, Liza, is great. A fancy restaurant that I love is La Petite Maison. Sushi Republic is a mom-and-pop place near my house that I go to all the time. Tap 42 is a fourth favorite. I actually crave their guacamole.”

What’s your most embarrassing moment on camera?

“I never try the food before we tape, so I give my exact opinion as the food is in my mouth, on air. But talking and eating don’t always go together! Sometimes I get so excited because I want to get my thought out right away, and it can get messy. We edit those out.”

Is there anything you won’t eat on air?

“The only thing I won’t eat is blood sausage. I’m not a huge blood sausage fan.”

What’s your favorite episode?

“I always have fun with Chef Ralph Pagano at his restaurants. This feels like picking a favorite child! Really, Taste of the Town is about celebrating South Florida food, so they’re all fun.”

What do you snack on between shoots?

“I’m a tunafish junkie. It’s really pathetic. I eat all this gourmet food for work, but tuna on crackers is my favorite thing in the world. I try to be healthy and would love to say it’s fruit as well, but really, it’s all about tuna.”

Any tricks for getting food stains out?

“A bib. Ha! I do carry around a Tide pen, but if that doesn’t work, it’s going straight to the dry cleaners.”

What do you love about the Miami food scene?

“We’ve become so diverse. There’s really something for every palate here, in all price ranges. And you don’t have to go to the top chefs; you can go to the neighborhood spots that we call our ‘hidden gems’ and get something really, really good.”

Amara Paraiso WSVN CBS4 Telemundo evan benn felipe cuevas indulge
Belkys Nerey, Roberto Suarez and Lisa Petrillo at Amara at Paraiso, a restaurant by Michael Schwartz. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas. Hair and makeup by Gloria Pelo.INDULGE

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