These Summer Cookbooks Will Make the Good Life Even Better ~because they are healthy recipe books.

June 09,

Summer cookbooks are fanciful creatures — high on whimsy and shamelessly devoted to making a good life better. For some that means lingering in the farmers markets or gardening with the kids. For others it’s indulging in some usually forbidden pleasures —the icy sweet, the charred and fishy. And for some, it means crossing oceans to sample less familiar fare — without ever leaving the porch. There’s something for everyone, but all go just fine with bare toes and a sun hat.



The Quick-Fix Way to Turn Everyday Food into Exceptional Fare, With 400 Recipes
by Lucy Vaserfirer

Paperback, 320 pages

Cookbook of Marinades

Ah, the glow of the charcoal! the ring of the tongs! The romance of grilling may center around a Weber kettle, but some of its most powerful secrets lie in a zip-top bag. Marinades offers page after page of simple, devastatingly effective baths — and just in case you’re not so sure what to do with your Madeira-Thyme Marinade once you’ve got it — afterward points you in the direction of some nice veal rib chops or other appropriate cuts. Lucy Vaserfirer knows that for all the fire and flair at the end, the success of a grilling adventure often starts hours before, with the silent, humble art of wet baths and dry rubs. Chops and medallions, steaks and kebabs — there’s hardly a cut of protein that doesn’t benefit from a good long soak in an emphatically-seasoned liquid. Five minutes of forethought while you’re cleaning up from lunch is all it takes. After that, deliciousness is in the bag. Meanwhile, you can go for a bit of a soak yourself.


All Natural SURF Cuisine

A Study in Seafood Cookery
by Michael Bennett

Paperback, 186 pages


All Natural Surf Cuisine
An all natural SURF cuisine by Chef Michael Bennett

You will love how the Chef’s narratives are paired up with the recipes. It was like reading a recipe guide and journal from this chef on his journey through cooking seafood. You will also like the idea that the book is broken up into segments like; spices, salads, sauces and entrees. So, besides having 100 or more recipes squeezed into 188 pages, you actually get a multiple of at least 3 times that much if you interchange the sub-recipes into the entree section. This book is of course featuring healthy cooking of Seafood. Since it is a tropical seafood natural cooking cookbook you expect that but, it is also a GLUTEN FREE cookbook. The chef explains that the recipes are mostly grilled so the need for adding wheat flour is not needed. Chef Michael Bennett goes out of his way to create sauces that are as healthy as they are exotic – to pair with the grilled seafood. Once you investigate the recipes you’ll see that this book might be your favorite cookbook for your weekend family dinners.


The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook

100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden
by Brent Ridge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Sandy Gluck

Hardcover, 275 pages


Natural veggie cookbook
Vegetables cookbook

The “lifestyle company” Beekman 1802 celebrates the better bits of farm life (fresh eggs and rustic antiques, not manure spreaders and drought). This third Beekman cookbook outing is suffused with nostalgic, agrarian spirit, from its seed-packet endpapers to its fluted-china still lifes. Even if you can’t be bothered to jot down “Fall Recipes From Your Family” into the quaintly lined journal pages provided, the recipes here go a step beyond your average vegetable ode and are worth exploring: green beans with frizzled scallions and ginger, butternut squash crostini with raisins and brown butter. It’s not vegetarian and heirloom vegetables are not actually required — for Beekman 1802 is all about the joys of the harvest, minus the backache from weeding and the gritty fingernails. To be used in a spirit of indolence.

Vegetarian for a New Generation

Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us
by Liana Krissoff

Paperback, 272 pages
This third offering in Krissoff’s “New Generation” series may look just like any other vegetable book, but don’t be fooled! Once you get past the bland title and tiny print, there are some surprising, wickedly effective flavor combinations just waiting to be discovered. Brussels sprouts waltz through a tamarind-ginger dressing; a tamari-butter glaze clings to potato wedges. Even the kale chip, which everyone agrees has overstayed its welcome, gets an alluring makeover in coconut. Not every recipe shines with newness — there are fine old friends like miso eggplant and butternut squash soup — but Kassoff never lets comfort devolve into boredom.


The Better Bean Cookbook

More than 160 Modern Recipes for Beans, Chickpeas, and Lentils to Tempt Meat-eaters and Vegetarians Alike
by Jenny Chandler

Hardcover, 272 pages
Protein-filled, healthy beans — everybody wants to love them, but why do they make it so difficult? Even perfectly cooked beans can exhaust your appetite long before you get to the bottom of the bowl, for the blandness of a bean calls for aggressive seasoning to blast open its beige palette. Here at last is a bean book that’s more tempting than earnest, brimming with cosmopolitan flavors and vivid photography. Forget about your hippie-era three-bean dip and boiled lentils — in these pages, dosas and tagines, falafels and burritos rub shoulders. Some are generously herbed, some are richly spiced, but all deliver novelistic detail on the plate compared to the leguminous one-liners of years past. The right-minded should be warned that this is no vegan — or even vegetarian — compendium. Decadent beanery is afoot in these pages; proceed accordingly.

Simple Thai Food
Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen
by Leela Punyaratabandhu

Hardcover, 227 pages
I have generally found “Quick,” “Easy,” and “Simple” to be disingenuous labels when it comes to Thai cookbooks. They might be actually easy, but then they’re likely more Chinese than Thai. Or they’re not actually easy at all — just easy compared to the hours you’d spend pounding spice pastes in the old country, with no electricity or running water. But Punyaratabandhu seems to pull it off, coming up with recipes that are weeknight-doable yet electric with ingredients you can just about find if you try hard (dried shrimp, kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar). Shortcuts or not, they’re desperately delicious. And as to those curry pastes? Store-bought is fine, according to the author. But diehard readers will still find complete recipes for each in the back of the book. In other words, you can have it both ways.

Culture of Cuisine: Chef Michael Bennett Writes a Workbook

By Laine Doss Mon., Oct. 17 2011 at 8:50 AM excerpt taken from New Time magazine on line
Chef Michael Bennett writes a workbook….
​Michael Bennett isn’t content to just sit around on a rare day off from his executive chef job atBimini Boatyard. Instead of sunning or fishing, Bennett writes.

With two Caribbean-influenced cookbooks under his belt, In The Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks,

In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks



and Underneath a Cloudless Sky,

Underneath a Cloudless Sky
Chef Michael's second book.


Bennett decided to write a book geared to professional chefs and culinary students.

The 140-page Culture of Cuisine is a cross between a textbook and a series of essays from a chef with three decades in the kitchen.

Culture of Cuisine by chef Michael Bennett
Chef Michael's third book about South Florida cooking and chefs.

In the book, Bennett gives his thoughts on everything from the changing tides of modern American cuisine to a run-down of chefs who have influenced and changed the dining scene in south Florida.

You’ll find no recipes in Culture. Instead, students of cooking will find insider tips for running a restaurant usually not on a culinary school curriculum like how to design a brand, market yourself, and use social media to spread the word about your restaurant.

QR codes throughout the book unlock chef interviews, websites and blogs for additional insight into the south Florida cooking scene.

Michael Bennett
​Though written with professionals in mind, Culture of Cuisine is a good read for any south Florida food enthusiast. With chapters that include a timeline of Florida cuisine, features on influential south Florida chefs like Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken and Michael Bloise, and an intimate look inside a commercial kitchen, this book gives the reader a portrait of what it takes to be a professional chef.

Bennett told Clean Plate Charlie that Culture of Cuisine is actually the first in a three-part series. This first book focuses on chef ideals. Part two will work on techniques and the third book will tie everything together. The volumes are designed to serve as a non-traditional workbook for up and coming chefs.

Chef Michael Bennett featured in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper

Spiked sweets:

Desserts that get cheers and booze
Here’s proof that a little alcohol in treats can lift everyone’s spirits

Bimini Boatyard’s chocolate cake is made with Jack Daniel’s, Myer’s Rum, Kahlua, Frangelico and Grand Marnier. (Ginny Dixon, Sun Sentinel / October 6, 2011)

Recipe: Jack Black and friends’ death by chocolate from Bimini Boatyard

by: Jan Norris, Correspondent

October 6, 2011

At Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale, chef Michael Bennett sometimes takes inspiration from the bar.

It was the Death by chocolate martini — vodka, half-and-half, chocolate liqueur and dark creme de cacao — that led him to create a dessert he calls Jack Black and friends’ death by chocolate.

Bennett starts with mini-cakes in muffin tins from a boxed mix. He soaks them in a buttery-liquor concoction and then coats them in a smooth chocolate ganache spiked with the same liquors.

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They may be mini, but their kick is mighty.

“It explodes with flavor,” says Bennett. “Even a little piece will send you to chocolate heaven.”

death by chocolate by chef michael bennett
Death by Chocolate, a five liquor ganache cake

Created three years ago, they’re so popular that he doesn’t dare take them off the menu.

Chefs across South Florida are taking their cues from bartenders. That’s because mixologists are the latest culinary geniuses. They create sweet, and sometimes savory, concoctions that elevate even the simplest bar experience. Think Cucumber-basil-mint juleps and Smoky maple bacon old-fashioneds.

Pickled fruits, infusions of herbs and vegetables, mad scientist-like foams are spun behind the bar and squirted into drinks. Inside kitchens, those concoctions get translated into some heady send-offs that pack plenty of punch.

At Spin Ultra Lounge in Boca Raton, chef Jason Feinberg riffs on popular melon martinis with frozen melon martini balls. He uses a vacuum bag to speed the infusion process, frozen with a spike of vodka. They make a fun and cool end to a patio party, especially when presented in an oversized martini glass.

At Prime, a Delray Beach steakhouse, chef Peter Masiello turns cookies and milk into an over-21 experience. Adult chocolate milk — nothing like the Hershey’s and milk of your childhood — is paired with a white chocolate chip cookie spiked with white chocolate liqueur. If you can’t make it to Prime, make them at home. Just keep the kids out of the cookie jar.

The Breakers has a different take on old stand-by tiramisu. Executive pastry chef Elmar Wolf tips in Kahlua along with Marsala wine to create a Spirited cappuccino tiramisu for the resort’s The Italian Restaurant.

Several restaurants, including Hyatt Regency’s Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, serve Mojito cheesecakes. We have a version of this mint-lime-rum cheesecake concoction that makes individual servings. Since these freeze well, you can pop a few in the freezer for impromptu desserts.

When serving these booze-filled desserts, consider serving a cordial glass of the liqueur used in the recipe for an elegant finish to your meal. Not that you’ll necessarily need any more booze.

Chef Michael Bennett releases Third Book on 911

Michael Bennett releases his Third Book on 911.


            South Florida, August, 2011 ~ – announces that Michael Bennett, Cookbook Author and the Executive chef of Bimini Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale is hosting a Release Party for his Third Book on September 11th, 2011 in remembrance of 911.

                Chef Michael Bennett remembers the days after 911 as those of worry and sorrow, yet in the aftermath came new found pride in being an America. Ten years later we all have been changed by these events. Michael reminisced about such terrible loss and vowed to make his time a valued commodity. Since 911, Chef Michael Bennett taught himself the skills of writing and computer based book publishing to be able to share his passion for the food business with others.

                Since 911, Chef Michael has written and published three books on food and cooking. His love of South Florida is seen in his first two cookbooks: In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks and Underneath a Cloudless Sky. His third book delves into what is like being a chef, called Culture of Cuisine, it notes the common ideals culinary ideals amid four generations of chefs boasting a New American Riviera (Miami) cookery heritage. He will have a book signing and half-price book release at Bimini Boatyard of the evening of the 911 anniversary.

                This book’s primary assertion is based upon the ideas and ideals of some of South Florida’s Top-Chefs. Very recognizable top chef names are written about in the latter chapters, while the first three chapters discuss the rudimental ideals of being a chef. Chapter one lays the groundwork for the next two chapters. Summed up in the next few sentences, Chef Michael describes life as a chef with a particular Love-affair slant; and, is a book that can be used and enjoyed by all, no matter their experience level…














                Chef Michael has found that the real equalizer among cookbook enthusiast is interest in the culture about cooking. Interestingly enough chapters one through four are segmented into sub chapters of thought. Michael deliberated that these similar culinary culture-based ideals were similar enough to have been categorized concurrently, yet the stand-alone thoughts should have their own sectioning. The first two chapters alone have a consequential tone that screams “this has to be a read daily” by all culinary aficionados.


The Use of Q.R. CODES:

                Quick Response (QR) Codes! An Internet sensation, QR codes are being used by millions of people around the world. Chef Michael’s books are produced with these revolutionary codes inlaid within the text of the pages.

                He first added QR codes to his newly revised first Gluten-free cookbook, In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks. QR codes quickly establish weblinks to additional information about the topic stemming from the Internet using a smartphone. On this third book, Chef Michael uses them to enhance descriptions and show additional background information on the chefs that are featured in chapter five. Chapter six goes on to describe how the Internet’s Social Media aspects are going to help young chefs in the future.


About the Author

                Formally trained in the school of hard knocks, Chef Michael has always pursued only one culinary goal, making Miami’s unique culinary ideals visible world-wide. Chef Michael Bennett has done this most convincingly through his two South Florida grounded cookbooks.

                His first two cookbooks are the result of working in numerous noteworthy South Florida and Caribbean restaurants and resorts. Ones that tout a particular South Florida vogue and he has earmarked as “Caribb-ican”.  Obviously this “Caribb-ican” culinary trajectory has hit a cord with local restaurant consumers. This culinary styling has played out well at his current post at Bimini Boatyard. It is where sales and customer counts have gone from sleepy to boisterous as they were recently featured in the New York Times – best places in Fort Lauderdale for its blustery sales increases. See link: Chef Michael’s Boatyard Caribb-ican menu styling emerged three years ago and has segued into accolades from local magazines as: Best New Menu” in 2008 and, Chef Michael Bennett named locally as one of South Florida’s: “Top Chef” in 2009, 2010 and 2011. All the while Chef Michael Bennett boldly hones a specific culinary leadership status through print and on-line publications. 


About Chef Michael Bennett’s other books:               

                Chef Bennett’s first book is titled “In the Land of Pirates, Misfits and Cooks”; it is a first-hand taste of living in the Caribbean. That is also the first interactive cookbook in America. Chef Michael has based the recipes in the book upon healthy Gluten-free cooking. And to this end, he has placed QR (Quick Response) codes on the pages so the reader can quickly interact using a smart phone or web-enabled device. Chef Michael has inlaid the QR codes on the page with the recipe, so you can instantly source that hard to find Gluten-free food item used in his recipes.

                His book will energize your palate as you taste the new cookery methods and the innovative ingredients that are deliberately paired with familiar American fare. Chef Bennett takes the reader on playful culinary journeys throughout the many island Nations of the Caribbean, showing you that with a little ingenuity, you can bedazzle your taste buds by applying this tropically-inspired “Caribb-ican” cookery.

                The book’s FULL FOUR color photos highlight Bennett’s signature style of presentation: “food stacking”. Chef Bennett creates towers and food that ascends, as his recipe styling clearly characterizes “playing with food”. You will never just get food on a plate with Michael Bennett; you will get works of art. This may seem daunting to the average home cook but in true culinary tutoring style Chef Bennett explains in detail “how to play with your food”, this alone is worth having the book as you become an honorary Pirate and Cook of the Caribb-ican style of cooking. 


Chef Michael’s second book; “Underneath a Cloudless Sky” features mouth-watering recipes that will incite a pantry-quaking aftermath. South Florida’s five cookery heritages influenced the book’s recipe development. This full FOUR COLOR cookbook serves up an easy to read 180 plus pages of toothsome (110+) recipes and an instructional narrative about what it is like to dwell and work as a chef on the New American Riviera. This cookbook is the result of Michael’s reformulating the last two decades of South Florida’s “Florida’s Five Flags Fusion Foods” cookery components. The Five Flags citation represents his conceptual reformatting of South Florida’s five distinct cookery heritages.


Underneath a Cloudless Skya 180 page, 110 recipes, “Caribb-ican” stylized cookbook that is retail priced $29.95.  The Book can be bought at Barnes and Noble, and


In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks is 120 recipes, 180 + pages ($35.95) is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon discount books seller website, as well at:


Culture of Cuisine” is 140 pages ($15.95) and is available as a digital download ($2.95) or in print from and



Author substantive:
Michael Bennett is a well-known award winning (Chef of the Year-1995) South Florida chef whose clients are a Who’s Who of Media and Sports personalities. He earned critical culinary kudos as the Executive chef for the 26 year-local culinary force Left Bank restaurant. Under his auspices he brought “Best of” (Zagat Survey); Four Stars (AAA) and Four Diamonds (Mobil) to the long-time three star rating. He also holds culinary affiliations with several culinary and food-related organizations. He regularly lectures on South Florida’s “Caribb-ican” cuisine. 

For more information, contact us at:




Fresh Ingredients, Tropical Flavors and Gluten-free dining are deliciously absorbed in a Value-Endorsed State of Mind

For Immediate Release:
The Professional Image

Fresh Ingredients, Tropical Flavors and Gluten-free dining are deliciously
absorbed in a Value-Endorsed State of Mind
“Food and healthy cooking has been my entire life…making it a value just seems right!”, chef Michael Bennett.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida ~ August, 2011 – Chef Michael Bennett’s current post as the Executive chef – Bimini Boatyard (BBy) that was first usher into the Fort Lauderdale dining scenescape in September of 1989. A lot has happened in the world since the time of its opening. Remember the fall of the Berlin Wall?
The reins of Bimini’s protracted journey have been taken by chef and cookbook Author – Michael Bennett; once acknowledged by the American Culinary Federation as Chef of the Year.
Today the BBY is best-known for its exciting and innovative “Caribb-ican” menu, value-based wines and the best local Happy Hour in Fort Lauderdale. Like BBY’s menu, the wine list selections are globally sourced, chosen for their value price point and a complementary taste that harmonizes with our menu. United with our casual-style of service – that is straight from the heart – referring to a sense of caring and friendliness, it is the combination of good food and this almost neighbor-like service has inspired this 21 year landmark.
Based on his culinary experiences, from a four year escapade in the Caribbean, Chef Bennett has created another “Caribb-ican“inspired menu – he refers as…”New World Cuisine revisited”. This menu feature his unique twist on this menu featuring local tropical ingredients – with a focus on seafood, complimented by: low-fat, Gluten-free “Coulis-grette’s © .
”Since the original opening of BBY, we have embarked on a new course”, says Chef Michael. “The decision was made to create a more accessible and creditable Gluten-free Caribbean slanted seafood-based menu.
Before becoming the executive chef of Bimini Boatyard, chef Michael Bennett recalls; “I lived and worked on various British, French and American Caribbean islands there were unbound by classic European cookery disciplines.” He has blended modern American food with “Caribbean” cookery techniques and ingredients invented during his four year journey through the Caribbean.
This is where Chef Michael reflected upon his culinary edification and began to write his first cookbook: “In the Land of Misfits, Prates and Cooks”. It has become The Professional Image’s first published cookbook and first Gluten-free book written by a chef for chefs.
See more below:

The first Gluten-Free Caribbean-influenced cookbook
that is enhanced with QR codes.
The Professional Image, Inc. that is touted to be the publisher for the Culinary profession, announced its first Cookbook release on September 1st, 2009. “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” has now been revised to be 100 percent Gluten-Free.

In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks is now Gluten-free and boasts over 125 mouth-watering Caribbean-inspired recipes. This four color book serves up an easy to read 180 pages of delectable tropical recipes each emphasized with a narrative about what it is like to live and cook in the Caribbean.

This cookbook is the result of Michael’s equating and collaborating hundreds of years of compelling Caribbean food and cookery elements. This book is overflowing with a scrumptious mix of seasoning blends and marinades, salads, appetizers and entrees written in a way where you are the aspirant chef and YOU can compose or alter recipes while atop the stove.

The modern metropolitan recipe styling captures the distinct local flavor of a multi-national cookery heritage. Vibrant photography, easy to use design, one-of-a-kind recipe flow and, interesting and helpful sidebars and QR (Quick Response) codes blend to create the perfect sampling of what this multi-cultural, Caribbean based cookery style has to offer.

The cookbook was developed as a way of thanking the many fans of Caribbean cuisine that know “curry powder” or a “jerk glaze” are not the only examples of a Caribbean chefs repertoire. Michael asserts that after working as a chef for the past four years in applaudable Caribbean dining venues, each has played an important role in the successful dispatch of this book. Michael’s travel and oeuvre throughout the Caribbean, whether on a British, American, French or Spanish island nations, has helped Michael to shape this unprecedented recipe collection.


As guests enjoy chef Bennett’s award-winning Gluten-free cooking as they are treated to the casual elegance of newly remodeled spacious dining rooms, floor to ceiling windows peering out onto the riverfront – in which BBY is perched, three expansive Bar/Lounge areas and an outdoor (riverside) dining terrace. The remodeled interior design captures the feeling that you are in a family friendly, comfortable, Cape Cod stylized restaurant.

For more information on either the cookbook “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” or The Professional Image, inc. “publisher for the Culinary profession”, visit: (initiate July ’09) | contact T.P.I. at (305) 851-3441 |

“In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” cookbook is priced at $34.95 (Please add $3.50 for shipping and handling) Books can be ordered online at as well as through the Mail to this address:

New Times Magazine interview with Miami Author Michael Bennett

First seen in New Times Broward palm Beach

Interview by:

Laine Doss

Chef Michael Bennett is a native Floridian and a passionate chef who truly believes in cooking creatively and making a meal memorable for his guests.
Chef Bennett loves his work, and it shows. Since 2008, he’s manned the helm of Bimini Boatyard, one of Fort Lauderdale’s most enduring and iconic restaurants. Bennett has brought the sheer joy of cooking to the restaurant’s menu. We spoke with Bennett about cooking and family.

Clean Plate Charlie: Fort Lauderdale, while having some very good restaurants, seems like a thousand miles away in attitude from Miami restaurants. Why do you think that is?

Chef Michael Bennett: It’s a business and a down-home attitude here in Fort Lauderdale. Here, it’s let’s do business and go home and have a family life. In Miami, it’s kind of like, “I need the P.R.; I need the publicity,” and I’ve never been that way.

Bimini Boatyard is a large restaurant. How many people can you seat?

We have like 460. We added another 80 to 100 seats on the small deck we built last year. You know, they renovated this entire place last year in like 24 hours. I went on vacation for a week, and when I came back, everything was brand new — the dining room, the bathrooms, everything. They worked nonstop.

What is the tourist-to-local ratio?

A lot, but at lunchtime, we get all locals. Everybody is slowing down after season; we’re getting crazed. We broke a record last year. I don’t know what everyone else is doing, but we’re doing very well. We’re doing phenomenal. Business is so busy, I need another kitchen. We’re getting ready to really bust it loose next year. We have the cruise ships and the conventions. The concierges from the hotels or the convention center will send us their big parties of 20-plus. You stay here until about 1:30 and I’ll swap you paychecks if I don’t get a party of at least 20 people here today. We may not have a private room for them, but we’ll accommodate them.

You worked at Solo on the Bay in Miami Beach — that must have been crazy.

I used to do the nightclub after the restaurant from midnight to 5 a.m. It was crazy. There were thousands of people there every weekend. You should have seen the sheer numbers of people we had. We packed them in. Memorial Day 2005, I had 2,500 people walk through that place in one night. That was the night Beyoncé walked in.

Lil Wayne was there one night, and there were 800 people waiting outside to get in.

Where are you from?

I was born at Broward General, and so was my oldest daughter. I was the first child born in Sunrise. My dad was in the marine business. My grandfather owned the marina next door to Bimini Boatyard. My father and uncle used to race boats by the old Marine stadium in Key Biscayne. My father owned a marina in Tampa, but I moved back to Fort Lauderdale because Tampa was too slow for me.

Before I moved back to Fort Lauderdale, I opened up a few restaurants and redid a Radisson in St. Petersburg, right next door to QVC. Susan Lucci and Lauren Hutton used to be my best customers. Lauren Hutton used to come in every day and ask why I can’t make anything healthier.

Jack LaLanne also used to come in all the time.

Please tell me he was a nice guy.

The guy was a pistol. It didn’t matter how old he was. His mind was as sharp as when he was doing acrobatics in Miami. He used to come in for only broccoli and egg whites every day. He did it the right way.

So do you eat healthy?

I’m a starch-aholic. Because I’m so busy, I only eat once a day, but starch gives me energy. I eat potatoes, pasta, and bread. I can’t live without it. I don’t eat meat that much because it isn’t important to me any more. Although I cheat. I eat a hamburger once a week. That’s my guilty pleasure. And it’s not because I’m getting old, although I am, but I’ve been getting heartburn all my life, and now because I don’t eat meat, I don’t.

What do you think about chefs who look down on vegetarians?

Why would they say that to a customer? We’re here to provide a service. If I don’t have it in the kitchen, I can’t give it to you, but if I have it — you got it. This business is hospitality. If you have a problem with that, you should be writing a cookbook or teaching a class. If you’re going to be a chef, you’ve got to be a host.

That’s why this place is so popular. Nobody cooks seafood at home. People rarely even cook. Including my daughters. They don’t cook, but they love to eat at my restaurant because nobody cooks what they like the way Dad does.

Did you cook for your daughters?

When they were young, I worked 70 to 80 hours a week. I wasn’t home a lot, but they called me up every night to bring something home for dinner. And it was never one dish; it was always something different for each girl. And now that they’re out of the house, it’s like, “What am I going to do? I hate everything because Dad’s not making it.”

I spoiled them so much with the food.

Are they in school?

One’s going to University of South Florida, and one’s going to Florida State. They’re great kids.

Do they want to go into the business?

I don’t think so. They’re too smart.
By Laine Doss, M

​Yesterday, we featured part 1 of our interview with Bimini Boatyard’s chef Michael Bennett. If you missed it, you can read it here. In part 2, chef Bennett talks about living in the Caribbean and what it’s like to serve a ton of seafood in one weekend.

Clean Plate Charlie: You’ve written two cookbooks. Have you ever taught cooking?

Chef Michael Bennett: Yeah, I’ve taught. I taught kids at my daughters’ school. It was a healthy-cooking class. I would show them that you can go to the store and buy a bag of chips that are healthy. We did healthy pastas. We did healthy techniques. This is before chefs were all over TV. But you could see that these kids really loved cooking. My class grew from 15 to 30 kids. Kids were sneaking into the class.

When was there a shift that made cooking cool?

I think it’s all Bravo Network’s fault. I hate Top Chef, but my wife loves it. That and that show where the guy yells a lot..

Hell’s Kitchen?

Yes. What an idiot. Nobody in this industry would treat their people that way. Nobody. But these shows did good things, because kids want to be in this industry now.

You lived in Tortola for a while. Tell us about it.

I’ll tell you why I dream about Tortola every night. (shows me a picture.) Look at the water. The water is crystal blue. I had to cross the channel to get to my restaurant every day. You could see sea turtles, whales, dolphins. The blue is an amazing blue.

What was everyday life like there?

It was the British Virgin Islands. I had a work permit, but my daughters had to go to school online through the Miami-Dade Public Schools system. It took three months to get electricity in my house. We take things for granted here — like groceries, internet service. It was eight months before we got telephone service. I had to take my daughters downtown every day to get internet service. It became a real hassle.

When you go to the Caribbean, there’s no Publix, no Kmart, no Burger King. It’s great for a week, but try to do it for a year. When I went to St. Thomas and ate a Big Mac, it was like heaven to me — because I couldn’t get one in Tortola. When you don’t have these little conveniences, you really miss it.

And my kids were so citified, the couldn’t stand it, because we lived next door to Aventura Mall before we moved, and suddenly there wasn’t a mall for hundreds of miles.

It must have been torture for two teenaged girls. Any good stories?

One time at my restaurant, we had a giant setup for the Super Bowl. We had 100 to 150 people at the bar. At 7:30, the game started [there’s an hour difference], and the entire island went black because everyone flipped on their TV at the same time. Luckily, someone had a laptop, and 150 people gathered around the laptop to watch the game.

So how did you get from Tortola to Bimini Boatyard?

My family and I decided to move back to Florida. I got back, I’m holed up in my hotel room waiting for my furniture to arrive. It takes about three weeks. I’m bored, so I walk into Bimini Boatyard. I figure Bimini Boatyard — Caribbean. Sounds good. I talk to the general manager, and I’m working there the next week. It was a natural fit.

I thought about doing dishes from the French Caribbean, the Spanish Caribbean. Like the Martinique grouper and the scallops.

You can’t get good scallops retail.

I know. I get them in specially. I have them specially dry-packed.

Bimini Boatyard is a big seafood house, obviously.

We do so much seafood. At the last Boat Show, we sold over a ton of seafood. We sold 2,600 pounds of seafood. Oysters, snapper, yellowtail, dolphin, lobster. I was buying and cooking five cases of Florida lobster tail a day. Over 100 pounds of dolphin a day. It was crazy. I didn’t cut less than 200 pounds of fish a day during that weekend.

What’s next for chef Michael Bennett?

I plan on writing more. I wrote my cookbooks on my deck in Tortola. It was a great experience. I’m also making cooking videos directly from the balcony of my home in Hollywood. It’s an amazing view. It’s a beautiful vista.

Recipe from chef Michael Bennett cookbook:

In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks.

Caribbean Kimchi:

A Recipe From Bimini Boatyard’s Chef Michael Bennett
By Laine Doss,

Chef Michael Bennett and wife serve up dishes at the Kampong in Coconut Grove
​Bimini Boatyard’s Chef Michael Bennett has a joy for both cooking and life.
In our recent interview with Chef Bennett, we learned about his passion for bringing the flavors of the Caribbean home to south Florida. If you missed the interview, you can read it here and here.
Clean Plate Charlie is happy to share Chef Michael’s Caribbean-inspired take on the classic Korean kimchi.

Caribbean Kimchi


• 12 oz. Green mango

• 1 head napa cabbage, shredded

• 4 oz. Red onion, julienne

• 2 oz. Red bell pepper, julienne

• 1 oz. Garlic, sliced thinly

• 3 oz. Carrot, julienne

• 2 oz. Pineapple, julienne

• 3 tbs. Cilantro, chopped

• 1 oz. Sriracha sauce, or more if you like

• 1 oz. Sesame oil

• 2 oz. Salt

• 1 oz. Ginger, crushed finely

• 4 oz. Scallions, sliced thinly on a bias

Place all veggies in a large bowl and toss roughly.

Shake in the salt and drizzle with the sriracha sauce and oil.

Toss Roughly again.

Place in the refrigerator for three days, Tossing the ingredients once a day.

Remove the slaw/salad and drain well.

Use on plates as garnish or as a spicy Salad accompaniment.

Interview – Chef Michael Bennett

Interview with

Michael Bennett, Executive chef and author

What is your definition of creativity – what is it?

Taking the known and producing something totally different or umcommon. Being able to understand similar flavor profiles of different foods mix and match to create unusual or uncommon
new dishes.

But after 5000 years of cooking, it is going to be hard to do this compared to what the Chinese have done.

You need a base of culinary learning to formulate something new. You have to use what is known in techniques or ingredients and use this to go another step beyond the commonplace.

Using culinary ideals to formulate your creativity or style helps. Your ideals help you perform the next steps to innovation.

Is creativity the same as innovation?

Creative innovation is akin to being cutting edge.
Innovation is remolding or restructuring the plate or a recipe (the known) into a perceived (by the customer) better commodity. Creativity is a thought that can be perceived by the consumer or taught by enlightenment of the consumer… using a really good P. R. person!!!!!

Do you think it is something that people are born with (innate) or can it be learned?

Which creativity? Or talent of innovation?

Look at chef Chalie Trotter. He is perceived as a talent but if the people evaluating his food didn’t like his wild mushroom study because they don’t like mushrooms, doesn’t mean he isnt a talented cook. But the “study in mushrooms” was still innovative.

Chef Trotter was born this way. I believe creativity is something that you are born into, not with.

I think you can be taught creativity by mimicking. Other people will evaluate you from their own perspectives whether what you can create in food is creative.

Innovation comes from experimentation and having a good enough palate to judge if what you cook is good tasting. It will always be the combined that will judge you to be innovative by what is commonplace at the time.

Look at new world cuisine, circa 1992. Innovative because everyone said so. From reporters to consumers, it was judged to be an innovative. By using tropical fruits paired with common American foodstuffs.

The creativity of new world cuisine came about by finding how to pair the unknown with the known popular foods of the day. Then again if there weren’t so many Caribbean people in Miami, these chefs might not have discovered these foods to begin with. They were taught by the people who worked for them in the kitchen. So their ( perceived) creativity was taught them them by common peoples that knew how to use uncommon ( to American chefs) foods.

How important is creativity to you in your employees? How can they be creative – can you give me an example?

Very important to some of my people. The others just have to minick and produce what is needed for service that day.
My sous chef have to be able to create but they arent creative. Create for me is to do something with leftovers or extras not used from a party the day before or over purchasing.

In my previous position i had to three creativity chefs that knew how to get the most from the food available so you make better profits. Creating profits has been my requirements from my staffs
for the past decade of managing other chefs and f&b managers. Creativity in creating profits keeps all of us employed.

When you hire someone for a job, is creativity an important job requirement?

Creativity is honed by me. A new employee just has to have the skills to produce what I teach.

Later when they can prove their techniques – and the demand in creativity I’ll ask them for innovation.

Creativity in cooking meat dishes doesn’t work for me because we are a seafood- centric menu. So creative is cool, but great skills are more necessary.

What other things are important when you consider hiring someone (e.g., reliability, punctuality, teamwork, communication) ?

Yes, I am never late. Nor my staff. We are always under the gun so time is a commodity that can’t be wasted, so yes being on time is very important.

Skills – see above answers.

In your business, do employees work predominantly on their own, or do they work in teams?

On own after trained by co- workers. With a staff of over thrity, no one is trained by me except my second in charge.

After training we reevaluate to see if skills are proper and if any more are needed. They work together in the same areas but as individual fulfilling the needs required. Teamwork to produce plates on the line is necessary. Individual accomplishment and completion of assigned tasks is more individualistic in nature by the back of the house.

Have you ever had college students working for you? What was your experience?

One good, became my second. One not so good. Let him go because he didnt keep pace in skill development.

It is all up to the person that is hired. If they can keep up with what is demanded by me and improve to the next level they stay with me.

What do you consider important for the school to emphasize in students’ education in general (i.e., English, math, communication skills)?

for leaders very important.
For my hands on people not so much.

How important are your clients? Do they drive what you do creatively?

Of course, see my explaination about creativity and innovation above. If my menus weren’t perceieve as creative, they would not define me as a leader in South Florida cooking. I would be part of the crowd producing great food but never thought of as i creative person by most consumers.

Now if what i create is thought of as innovative then i will be set apart from the other chefs and held in high perceived esteem. So yes, my customers drive my innovation to be thought of as a creative.

How important are principles or process (skills/craft) in your profession – more important than creativity?

Principles are the culinary training or thoughts that puts us all in the same rankings as chefs. I choose to call them ideals. Skills, the amount of skills and how you can apply them to the cooking of food is what will define you as a chef and later separate you from others as those skills lead to innovation of new ideals and creative culinary works.

If you had a choice between hiring a super-talented prima donna, or a humble and reliable, but less creative, person, which one would you give preference to?

Depends on the position I hire for.

If I need an innovator, someone to bring the menu to the next level I’ll choose the primadona. His mindset will force himself to do more and better than everyone else in the kitchen. His need to succeed and be the best in the kitchen will drive him to do what I need from this position as a chef de cuisine or sous.

The lesser skilled dependable person fills almost all my other positions in the kitchen.

How can we specifically better prepare students for the work world, i.e., what would you emphasize for the employee of tomorrow to learn (math? English? Teamwork?)

Read my new book “Culture of Cuisine” (due out Summer 2011) and you will know exactly.


The 17th annual Bali Ha’i Party –

The event is held at The Kampong an exotic botanical oasis in Coconut Grove that offers a glorious

setting to enjoy fine wine and gourmet foods.

Regarded as one of the most important food and wine events on the Miami social calendar, Bali Ha’i at The Kampong has sold out each of its sixteen years with over 500 upscale gourmets in attendance. Bali Ha’i will entertain guests with exquisite wines, champagnes and exotic libations along with tempting culinary samplings from 25 top South Florida restaurants. Restaurant participants announced to date include: Ortanique on the Mile, Bimini Boatyard, Chef Allen’s, 1500 at the Eden Roc, 3030 Ocean, Mango Café at The Fruit & Spice Park, Por Fin, Florida International University Café and Techniques Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu and manuy others.

Always a highlight of the event is our “People’s Choice Awards” selected by attending guests at our main event from previous year’s. Featured at our VIP “Party Under The Palms”, from 4 to 5 PM are People’s Choice Winner’s Chef Cindy Hutson – Ortanique on the Mile, Chef Marco Ferraro – Wynwood Kitchen & Bar and Chef Brandon Whitestone – Chef Allen’s Restaurant.

The event, a collaborative effort between The Kampong and the South Florida Chapter of The American Institute of Wine & Food, raises funds to maintain and expand The Kampong’s tropical botanical collection, providing a living classroom and laboratory for visiting scientists, students, and garden visitors. Bali Ha’i also raises funds to further the goals of the American Institute of Wine & Food, providing educational and nutrition based programs (Days of Taste) and scholarships to some of the finest culinary institutes in South Florida.

Chef Michael Bennett interviewed by Nations Restaurant Review magazine

Restaurant operators on the year ahead

January 13, 2011

Nation’s Restaurant News asked restaurant operators across the country to share expectations for their businesses in 2011. Most are optimistic that the new year will bring renewed consumer spending and opportunities for expansion. Still, a few remain cautious that the economic uncertainty of the past few years will continue into 2011.

Read what they had to say:

“We’re anticipating a slow start to the New Year, but by late fall I think we’ll see business picking up. I judge it by advance booking for our catering business, and we already are seeing more activity in the first quarter [of 2011]. I think people are still looking for price-value and comfort food — everything fresh from farm to table. I think that people who stick with good quality will survive.”

— Walter Staib, chef-proprietor of City Tavern in Philadelphia

“We have been up all throughout the recession. Even when it looked bad everywhere else around town, we were up. We kept prices low, our volume rose. Bar prices stayed low, happy hours filled two bars and overflowed into the third one outside. We improved the menus, eliminating all the stagnant items and only the best-selling ones stayed. We completely went to a seafood-based menu, left the prime rib, New York strip steaks, pork and chicken [off the menu]. Now we specialize in over 10 varieties of finfish, shellfish, lobster, etc. In 2009 we were up 40 percent over 2008. We were up another 30 percent in 2010, and in 2011 we are looking for no less than 30 percent.”

— Michael Bennett, chef of Bimini in Miami


Chef Michael Bennett, author of In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks
Chef Michael Bennett prepares Salmon fillet

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