Bold -- that's how Chef Giovanni Arias likes it (the food, we mean). Considered a "flavor genius," it's safe to assume Arias knows a thing or two about cuisine, most recently being tapped to be the executive chef for Canyon Ranch Grill. His rather sharp sense of layering flavors and true understanding of how a kitchen works has already garnered him much success and recognition. Today, he lets us in on what makes him (and his resto) tick.
I'm sure all the dishes on each of your menus are like your children, but which are you most proud of?
Our flan. It is delicious, full of flavor and it still meets the Canyon Ranch nutritional guidelines.
Most popular item on the menu?
The Avocado tartare. We get comments about how fresh and satisfying it is and guests enjoy the mixture of textures and flavors.
How would you describe Miami's dining scene?
Just like our city, it is a fusion of all the cultures that have converged into Miami. You can take a cuisine world tour without ever leaving Miami.
The secret to cooking perfect pasta?
Do not overcook it and season the water. Most people at home forget to "shock" the pasta with cold water and leave it sitting in the hot water, and by the time it is served is usually overcooked.
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
Growing up and watching my father be the designated "culinarian" in our household inspired me to follow in his footsteps. Not only would he enjoy the cooking process, but you could also see in his eyes that he thrived on watching the family enjoy his food.
The 5 ingredients every kitchen should have?
Sea salt, cumin, cilantro, garlic and avocados.
The 5 utensils every kitchen should have?
Tongs, forks, spatula, whisk, and a VERY sharp knife.
First dish you learned to make?
Piononos - my grandfather taught me at a very young age. It's a Puerto Rican dish that includes ground beef, ripe plantains and eggs.
Favorite dish to make at home?
Paella - if you make it with fresh ingredients, it is delicious!
Why is it important to use organic, healthier ingredients in your cuisine?
We sometimes forget that the food we eat is our daily fuel that helps us not only function, but also grow and age in the best way possible. Each time we eat, it is an opportunity to help our bodies perform better, so why waste these opportunities on foods that would prevent our bodies from functioning at their best?
What could you live off the rest of your life?
Sashimi and Ceviche.
What's your favorite part of working and cooking for Canyon Ranch?
The ability to apply my creativity and experience to create plates that stay within the Canyon Ranch nutritional guidelines. It is fascinating to see how minor adjustments to a recipe can turn a plate into food that is good for you. Nutritious and healthy foods do not have to be boring - they can be exciting, memorable and leave you with the desire to come back for more! Artichoke Fries, anyone?