Hogzilla’s Executive Chef and Miami native Chuck Gittleman was surrounded as a kid by Mom's home-cooked meals, Dad's barbecues, and trips to the Redlands farms for fresh produce. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he’s been “intoxicated,” as he describes it, by the restaurant business since his first job as a 14-year-old busboy. Gittleman has worked many South Florida kitchens, including Hard Rock Café, Monty’s Stone Crab, and Lombardi’s Restaurant in Bayside. Gittleman’s career proves we shouldn’t just support our local produce, but our chefs too! He tells us here about his newest post at the up-and-coming barbecue joint in Miami Beach.
I'm sure all the dishes on each of your menus are like your children, but if you had to choose only one dish from the menu, which ones are you most proud of?
The texas smoked beef brisket.
Most popular item on the menu?
Baby back ribs.
How would you describe Miami's dining scene?
Exploding! Miami’s culinary scene is growing in areas that can rivial bigger markets around the country. Customers' food awareness has driven chefs and restaurateurs to give customers more intelligent choices.
The secret to cooking perfect pasta?
When cooking it don’t shock it in ice water, let it air dry, then reheat it in the sauce and let the the pasta absorb the flavors from the sauce “don’t overcook the pasta”and salt the water
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
When I was 12 years old. I started cooking family meals at home and watching Julia Child, the Galloping Gourmet and Jeff Smith the Frugal Gourmet.
The 5 ingredients every kitchen should have?
Salt, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, flour, and eggs.
The 5 utensils every kitchen should have?
sharp chefs knife, tongs, fish spatula, vegetable peeler, and a cast iron pan.
First dish you learned to make?
Favorite dish to make at home?
What's your favorite food to eat? In other words, what could you live off of for the rest of your life if you had to?
Shrimp. I just absolutely love it, and you can do so much with it!
Tell us a little more about your restaurant.
Hogzilla’s is a Barbecue and “Southern Redneck chic” with a sportsbar feel that has live bands on the weekends. I would say it’s reminiscant of “Roadhouse,” the movie starring Patrick Swayze.
If there’s one tip or piece of advice you could give to all aspiring chefs out there, what would it be?
Be passionate about what you do. Gain knowledge through tasting, reading, watching, asking questions, traveling---whatever you can. Try to make it a learning experience as much as you can.