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You are here » HomeCulinary AcademyStaff Interviews → Mike Vitteta

Chef Staff Interview - Michael Vitetta

1. Where were you born?

Mount Kisco, New York

2. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

I found out I wanted to be a chef my freshman year in high school. At that time we were required to take a class called “Pathfinder”, which, as the name would suggest, helped us find our path. My teacher at the time had mentioned a statistic where 80% of people in the work force dislike their jobs, so do something you love. I loved food. So, I figured I’d be around it the rest of my life.

3. What was your first kitchen job?

I worked as a line cook at a retirement home in West Palm Beach, FL while going to school. The average age of our residents was 94. It was an interesting job to say the least.

4. Who do you consider to be your most influential culinary mentor/teacher?

I had a Chef Instructor, Dan Birney, he was always blunt and straight to the point. Really opened my eyes to what the culinary world was going to be like. I have always looked up to the big chefs, Thomas Keller, Daniel Bouloud, Marco Pierre White as well as David Chang. Although I have never worked with any of them directly, these guys have set and raised the standard of cooking throughout their careers. Very inspiring. As well as Chef Dave, he has taught me a lot about humility, and about being a professional, and has given me a great opportunity to express myself through cooking.

5. What is the oddest ingredient or meal you have ever had?

The oddest ingredient I have ever had, not so much a meal, is what they call a thousand year old egg. It’s an egg, shell on, that is buried in hot ash for over 90 days. Very interesting look, and a very odd taste.

6. Have you ever cooked for someone famous?

I have cooked for the King and Queen of Spain, President Obama, Jeb Bush, George Bush, Toby McQuire to name a few.

7. Do you cook at home? What do you have in your refrigerator?

If I have time I do, which is a rare luxury in this business. I have a ton of fruit, vegetables, and lettuces. I try to eat healthy when I’m home. With time constraints, it’s generally something quick, like a peanut butter sandwich with bananas.

8. Any memorable kitchen disasters?

I had a cook one time, who decided it was wise to throw away a lit paper towel into the trash can. A large fire erupted. One that occurred personally was my first Thanksgiving brunch, I had set the time and temp in an oven I was unfamiliar with and the turkeys were burnt the next day for service.

9. Speaking of disasters…what beverage or cocktail do you like to unwind with?

I enjoy single malt scotch, as well as a nice cold beer.

10. What is your favorite dessert?

My favorite desserts are bread pudding, anything custard based, cream puffs, pudding pies and vanilla ice cream.

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