Four days to eat, drink and mingle with the world's top chefs.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival: Latina Chef Michelle Bernstein

Miami native, Latina chef Michelle Bernstein said this weekend's festival means a lot to her.

By Maria Camila Bernal
|  Friday, Feb 22, 2013  |  Updated 12:02 PM EDT
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South Beach Mixology

Marcus Riley

Michelle Bernstein of Michy's shows off her braised pig cheek with black-eyed peas and crispy pig ears.

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South Beach Mixology

Tom Hiller from the Living Room Lounge at the W south beach prepares a signature drink called Paloma Hermosa.
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For chefs participating in the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, this weekend is dedicated to passionate work, nonstop cooking and few hours of sleep.

But for Miami native, Latina chef Michelle Bernstein who has been part of every festival in the last 12 years, this weekend means a whole lot more.

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“I’m proud not only to be in a small group of Latin chefs, but Latina women chefs are almost nonexistent,” said Bernstein who will be hosting Sunday’s Swine & Wine at the Baltimore Hotel. "I’m proud and humbled to call myself a Latina and a chef and remember where our delicious food comes from.”

At Sunday’s event Bernstein will be cooking pork marinated in chili, cooked in a caja china (pig roast box) with a Vietnamese noodle salad and a shot of pork broth on the side, a dish she has never cooked before.

“It’s a little scary. There are a lot of events people come to the restaurant and you try to keep it all together while cooking and keeping up with the restaurants,” said Bernstein who owns Michy's restaurant in Miami's Design District.

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This year, she will be accompanied by other Latino chefs including Miami’s Pubbelly chef José Mendín and Peru’s Gastón Acurio, whose restaurant has been ranked one of the world’s 50 best.

“It’s awesome to have Chef Acurio and other chefs who come here and work elbow to elbow,” said Bernstein. “To have these chefs here shows you how far we’ve come.”

Bernstein has the support of her husband and is hoping to impress her 1-year-old baby, who was too young last year to enjoy the festival.

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“We are very Latin Jewish family, who grew up with really good food and very family oriented dinner traditions,” said Bernstein. “So in the end, I just hope I come out safe, the food is delicious and my baby doesn’t hate me for working so much.”

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