Some of the original Mango Gang – the Miami chefs who helped put South Florida restaurants on the map in the 1980s and ’90s – are back in action with exciting new food projects. INDULGE asked Douglas Rodriguez, Norman Van Aken, Cindy Hutson, Allen Susser and Mark Militello what advice they have for the next generation of Miami chefs:
1. Cooking isn’t glamorous
Douglas Rodriguez: “This life is tough, not glamorous. There are many sacrifices before there are any rewards. Spend some time in a kitchen before you decide if this is really the life for you. The odds of becoming the next Emeril are one in a million.”
Recently opened Mojito Bar + Plates in Sunrise and is working on a Cuban cookbook. themojitobar.com.
2. Taste everything
Norman Van Aken: “Meditate. Taste many things. Find your own voice; don’t just follow what’s trending. [Forget] Facebook. Walk. Keep a journal. Read. Shut off your phone. Learn.”
Opening a fine-dining restaurant, rooftop lounge and cooking school in Miami’s Wynwood arts district. inthekitchenmiami.com.
3. Stay in or get out
Cindy Hutson: “Young cooks need to know that on this culinary roller coaster, there are a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs. If you can’t take it, get off the ride.”
After opening Zest in downtown Miami and in Jamaica, the Ortanique on the Mile chef-owner is now creating recipes for the Miami Cancer Institute. cindyhutsoncuisine.com.
4. Challenge your comfort zone
Allen Susser: “Eat everything: just-picked vegetables, unfamiliar grains, exotic spices, the ugly part of a raw fish. You need to do this to expand your knowledge and challenge your comfort zone.”
Working on a bean-to-bar chocolate laboratory, based on his chocolate research and farm in St. Lucia. chefallens.com.
5. Do the work
Mark Militello: “For chefs just getting into the business now, you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work, travel and learn.”
Opening Prezzo in Boca Raton as executive chef, alongside restaurateurs Burt Rapoport and Dennis Max. prezzoboca.com.