by Chelsea Olson
Maybe you've hit your limit on baking focaccia at home, or maybe you're just tired of cooking. While we all sorely miss being able to dine at a restaurant, there are a variety of ways you can get some relief from the kitchen and help Miami's hospitality industry (win-win!).
Many of Miami's top chefs have pivoted during the coronavirus crisis to making and delivering fresh food, and word is getting around.
Here's a list of some of the chefs offering homemade meals, baked goods, and more direct from their home to yours.
Ari's Home Baked @arishomebaked
Ariana Fagan was a server at Tap 42 in Coral Gables until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like many in the restaurant industry, she was laid off. What started as a hobby to stave off boredom led to Ari's Home Baked. Fagan is based in West Kendall and will make deliveries in Miami-Dade for a $7 fee and in Broward for a few bucks more (pickup is also an option). The menu, posted on her Instagram page along with photos of each item, includes a variety of cheesecakes including a dulce de leche and a Baileys Irish Cream ($16 to $24), along with other tasty classics like carrot cake or strawberry shortcake ($35). Order via direct message on Instagram.
Benh Mis @benh_mis
Benjamin Murray was chef de cuisine at Pao by Paul Qui at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach. Now he's turning his love of the Vietnamese bánh mì baguette sandwich into a passion project. After a few weeks spent testing recipes, Murray launched Benh Mis via Instagram, offering meal kits for easy at-home assembly. "The thing with a bánh mì is that it has to be super fresh," the chef explains. "If you don't eat it in the first 15 minutes, it's not as good as when it was just prepared." He buys his bread from a local bakery, his meat from Miami purveyors that are up to Faena standards, and his produce from local vendors. All sandwiches come with toppings of umami mayo, pickles, fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, and your choice of lemongrass meatball, roasted pork shoulder, or the vegan-friendly char siu portobello. A kit for two sandwiches costs $20, a kit for four costs $40. Murray is based in downtown Miami and accepts orders through Instagram for pickup only; time slots are assigned to maintain social distancing.
Early Bird Bakeshop @earlybird305
This collaboration comes from chef Henry Hane, founding chef at B Bistro Miami and Osaka Miami, and Hane's pastry chef wife Natalia Ocampo. The two started Early Bird about a month and a half ago, so it's safe to say they did get the proverbial worm by jumping on this concept. "We decided to do what we do best and cook," Hane tells New Times. "The idea was to do it just for fun, but we ended up getting very busy really quickly. We're grateful but weren't expecting it. We just want to provide for others and for ourselves." Each week they post a menu on Early Bird's Instagram page. Hane tackles the savory "to go provisions" — soups, salads, and stews, all served in 32-ounce portions, plus one featured main dish per week. Ocampo is in charge of baked goods, from babkas to cinnamon rolls to focaccia, cookies, loaf cakes, and tres leches. They're based in Midtown and mostly doing pick-up orders, but they'll deliver on certain days ($60 minimum order). Orders may be placed via Instagram DM or by texting the phone number listed on @earlybird305.
Lilly Cakes @lillycakesinc
If you've been to Cafe Martorano, then you've had Marsha Martorano's desserts. She's the wife of chef Steve Martorano and has been running her Lilly Cakes business for years — she even has plans to open her own cake shop later this year. Until then, she's baking out of their home in Broward (and in the restaurant when she can). Her signature cake flavors are red velvet, chocolate, carrot, blueberry, lemon, coconut, strawberry shortcake, and dulce de leche. A six-inch cake ($35) serves four to six, a ten-inch ($70) serves eight to fourteen. Pickup and delivery; orders must be placed 24 hours in advance at 954-561-2554.
Luna Rossa Cucina Rustica @_lunarossacucina
Juan Rozo wants to bring a freshly baked pizza from his home to yours. The chef, who worked at No Name Chinese, invested his stimulus check in an Italian stone pizza oven. He's been mastering the art of Neapolitan pies with handmade dough that ferments for 12 hours. Based in Cutler Bay, Rozo is averaging 24 pizzas per day and will be looking to expand his operation in the near future. "This is just me being me right now — doing what I know and what I love," he says. The 12-inch pies ($12 to $17) are offered in several varieties, from the traditional Margherita to white pizzas, a sweet Nutella option, and a prosciutto-topped pie. Orders are taken 24 hours in advance via the Instagram page. (Pickup, with delivery available as far as Doral and Brickell if enough orders stack up.)
Nicole Votano @thechefnicole
A veteran of the Miami restaurant scene, Nicole Votano had been working for private clients before the pandemic confined her and her two kids to her two-bedroom condo. Undaunted, she's posting menus weekly on her Instagram and Facebook pages, combining family recipes from her Italian-Jewish background with the favorites that many know her for. She'll also accommodate adjustments based on dietary needs. "I got into this business because I love to make people feel good," she says. "It's a way for us to feel better by being able to help and take care of locals." (She says even her daughter pitches in, writing some of the thank-you notes that accompany each order.) Orders are due Wednesday for weekend pickup or delivery anywhere in Miami all the way up to Boca Raton. Order via direct message on Facebook or Instagram.
Zitz Sum @zitzsum Zitz Sum is the latest concept from chef Pablo Zitzmann, whose No Name Chinese had a popular two-year run in South Miami before closing last year. Two weeks ago, Zitzmann decided that he'd rather be in the kitchen than "sit around in front of a computer waiting for unemployment to kick in." He promptly launched the Zitz Sum Instagram, piggybacking on his loyal No Name Chinese following. What began as an experiment resulted in a flood of orders for hand-rolled dumplings, noodles, fried rice, and scallion pancakes. Now he's booked up through the rest of May, taking five orders per day and doing everything from his house in Coral Gables. "It became something bigger than what I expected," he says. Owing to space limitations, everything but the dumplings is precooked. A card accompanies each order, instructing even the least confident home chef how to cook this type of dumpling with a quick toss in boiling water. Menu prices range from $8 to $22. Zitzmann aims to expand the operation and open up more dates; keep an eye on the Instagram page for updates, menus, and more.