Enjoy this In The Kitchen guest article by Holli Lapes, The South Florida Sage, who got ready for the South Beach Seafood Festival with Executive Chef Jimmy Pastor of Rusty Pelican.
We’re gearing up for the South Beach Seafood Festival! Earlier this summer, we (TheSoFlaSage) visited the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne for the first time to try their new menu and it was AWESOME!
Well, we just couldn’t stay away, so we went back to learn more about Executive Chef Jimmy Pastor and his involvement in the South Beach Seafood Festival!
About Chef Jimmy Pastor:
Born in the Big Apple and now making a splash in the Big Orange, Chef Jim Pastor was destined to be in the kitchen.
Raised by Costa Rican parents, his love of food and natural ingredients were instilled at an early age.
Chef Jim enrolled in the University of Johnson & Wales in both Rhode Island and Miami so he could see the different seasonal produce and cultural diversity that makes up the very fabric of American Cuisine.
After successfully completing his course and obtaining his degree, Chef Jim embarked on his career in the auspicious Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne.
He was part of the team that was awarded the AAA 5 Diamond Award, one of only four hotels in Miami with that distinction!
He then became part of the award winning team at ‘Atrio’ in the Conrad Miami, where the fusion of Latin and Asian flavors won distinction of being the ‘Best Fusion Restaurant’ and ’Best Pan Asian Restaurant’ in the Miami New Times for two consecutive years.
Chef Jim eventually returned to Key Biscayne, the place where he began his career, to embark on the most challenging position of his career to date.
The Rusty Pelican positioned him as Executive Chef at their iconic Miami restaurant. Throughout the restaurant, Chef Jim is know as a strong leader and fun loving person which translates to his food.
When he describes his cooking, he calls it “comfort food with a twist”. We talked more about this:
TheSoFlaSage: Why do you refer to your style of cooking as “comfort food with a twist”?
Chef Jimmy: With comfort food, there’s no hiding what the ingredients are and most of the dishes are simple and straight forward. For the twist: we are continuously evolving our cuisine and want to continue elevating the food (along with the service).
Sage: What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?
CJ: My favorite dish could be considered three dishes in one, it’s our Rusty Pelican Board which features our crowd favorites; Local Snapper, Lobster Risotto, and a NY steak with our special steak seasoning.
Sage: One of my favorite dishes on the menu is the bacon wrapped scallops, can you tell us more about how those are prepared?
CJ: Bacon wrapped scallops are one of those old school items that chefs try and shy away from but if you can do it in a way that elevates the dish and changes peoples perception…then why not? We take black rice cooked with herbs, citrus and a lot of aromatics then we fold in some of our garlic parsley oil to bring out the flavor of the rice. We then do a foie gras mousse to help add some richness to the rice and finish it with a chorizo vinaigrette. We get day boat scallops from the NE and wrap them in a high quality thin cut bacon. We pan sear them until they crisp up beautifully.
Sage: How does the pink rice in the Deco Maki dish get its pink color? What inspired the unique garnishes on the plate?
CJ: The rice gets its color from beets that we puree. The roll was inspired by the art deco that we have in Miami and that’s why I choose the name and color, I was inspirited by our beautiful city’s art and skyline.
Sage: What is your favorite food from the sea?
CJ: My current favorite seafood dish is the grilled swordfish, I’m a huge fan of this particular fish because it so versatile. We plate it with a cauliflower cream, chorizo migas and pickled cauliflower — its amazing!
Sage: How has your experience as a chef prepared you to participate in the #ChefShowdown at South Beach Seafood Festival?
CJ: Everyday in the kitchen is like a competition…making sure we get the food out on time, changing our menus, creating specials and whatever other curve balls the restaurant industry throws at us.
If that weren’t enough – Chef Jim also treated me to their newest dessert, the Cherry Cheesecake!
Get Ready for South Beach Seafood Week
The Rusty Pelican is one of the 18 participating restaurants at #SobeSeafood Fest’s main event on Saturday, October 21st!
Plus Chef Jimmy will be battling it out during the Chef Showdown on Friday, October 20th against Toro Toro. He’s coming in hot to challenge last year’s champ and will be making a special tuna dish.
Editor’s Note: The Chef Showdown assembles 16 of Miami’s top executive chefs for an evening of competitive cook-offs where YOU are the judge. In a perfect combination of competition level cuisine, tropically fresh cocktails, and live entertainment, the Chef Showdown tours guests through the best of Miami’s culinary scene. This is a CAN’T miss experience for all.
Be sure to use discount code SeaSage20 for 20% off your ticket and get yourself to South Beach Seafood Week Buy your ticket here!
Sea you there,