Kitchen Inquisition: Rafael Melendez

Gibraltar's Executive Chef re-traditions Easter Brunch

By John Hood
|  Saturday, Apr 23, 2011  |  Updated 7:48 AM EDT
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Kitchen Inquisition: Rafael Melendez

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It's a long, long way from Estes Park, Colorado to the Bay we call Biscayne, but Rafael Melendez has made it look like nothing more than a hop, skip and a jump. In fact, since the executive chef left the wintry Stanley Hotel to take over at Gibraltar, there's been a whole lotta hopping and skipping over to Grove Isle. And a whole lotta wide smiles on the jump back. When Niteside discovered Melendez was gonna re-tradition Easter Brunch, we hopped to it, too.

Tell us a bit about the fare at Gibraltar. Mostly seafood with a Mediterranean flare and a fusion of Miami flavor. As a chef, I try to utilize the best of the local seafood and produce to come up with delectable dishes that are bursting with flavor.

Must be a big difference from what you were cooking up at The Stanley Hotel, no? Since Miami is such a diverse culture I have found that while cooking here the flavors are intensified. Being able to fuse together so many ethnicities into a single dish is really what makes Miami a great place for a chef.

How do Colorado diners differ from those in Miami? I have found that the food in Colorado tends to be a little heavier than the light fare generally served in Miami. This is probably because of the drastic difference in the weather. Colorado tends to use a lot of gamey meats, while Miami is all about steak and fresh seafood.

Speaking of which, you've got something extra-special planned for Easter Sunday. Wanna fill us in? Instead of our usual Gibraltar Sunday brunch, for Easter we will be offering a special menu of over 100 items including carving stations, fresh oysters and seafood displays. The menu offers an abundant variety that is sure to delight all diners.

Isn't brunch always something special at Gibraltar, though? Sunday brunch has always been special at Gibraltar. Besides having a diverse menu, with personalized stationed chefs; it is our ambiance and unprecedented view of Key Biscayne and the Atlantic that truly sets us apart from any other venue. Beyond that, being a private venue in a hotel with a private member club with food and service of the highest level is only a bonus.

Gibraltar's also one of Miami's great date spots, have their been any proposals lately?
Because of the atmosphere and incredible views Gibraltar has to offer, marriage proposals are very popular among our diners. I would say that we get about 5-10 proposals a week. Valentine's has always been one of our most famous holidays here and this year was no different, providing the perfect romantic setting for 31 proposals in a single night. Last night again, on a Wednesday even, we had two proposals.

Before we go, what's in store for Gibraltar over the long hot summer? With summer fast approaching I couldn't be more excited to bring new menus to Gibraltar. I will be bringing some innovative new flavors to the menu and all different varieties of fish brought in special, from the Caribbean as well from Hawaii. We will also be reintroducing local organic produce. As always, I guarantee food of the highest quality and the best seafood in Miami!

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