Chef Michelle Bernstein
Born and raised in Miami of Jewish and Latinx descent, Chef Michelle “Michy” Bernstein is a fixture in the culinary world — both in restaurant kitchens and in the media spotlight — paving the way for bright Latin flavors and standout ingredients in her lively, vibrant cuisine. Bernstein’s style melds taste experiences from her travels around the world into her signature style of exciting, eclectic cooking.
“The food I love to cook is the food I have loved to eat throughout my life,” says Bernstein, James Beard Foundation Award-winner in the “Best Chef: South” category in 2008. “Everywhere I have lived, worked and visited, I’ve picked up favorite ingredients, techniques and flavor profiles that I’ve brought home to Miami and incorporated into my style.”
These days, Bernstein’s schedule is more jam-packed than ever, juggling multiple projects with her husband and business partner, David Martinez. Together, they own and operate Michelle Bernstein Catering, developing incredible menus for catered events large and small — from intimate dinners in private homes to elaborate to-go boxes for corporate events. Their direct-to-consumer meal deliveries for special holidays like Passover and Mother’s Day make it possible for guests to enjoy Bernstein’s dishes without leaving the comfort of home.
In 2019, Bernstein opened Café La Trova on Calle Ocho in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Café La Trova is a Cuban-inspired bar and restaurant linking traditional dishes with innovative style and technique. Like many of her previous ventures, it garnered instant acclaim and landed on several of the most coveted Best New Restaurant and Bar lists, including GQ and Esquire magazine. Additionally, Bernstein and Martinez are partners in the internationally recognized Miami Beach cocktail bar, Sweet Liberty, where Bernstein developed a creative menu of fun, interesting twists on American classic cuisine.
Newer projects include La Cañita, which translates from Spanish to “little sugarcane,” located in Miami’s Bayside Marketplace. The concept-driven restaurant celebrates the food and flavor of tropical, sun-drenched destinations like Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and Puerto Rico, along with influences from Central and South America. In March 2022, Bernstein and the team behind Sweet Liberty opened Little Liberty in Time Out Market on Lincoln Road featuring an inventive menu of handcrafted burgers, boozy milkshakes, crispy fries and more creative spins on all-American comfort food. Coming soon, a modern take on the beloved, award-winning Sra. Martinez will open in Coral Gables (2023), as well as two new concepts -- Michy’s Chicken Shack and Lunchería -- in the highly anticipated Downtown Miami food hall, Julia & Henry’s.
No stranger to a TV set, Chef Bernstein currently hosts two television shows: Check, Please! South Florida (PBS) and the Emmy-award winning production SoFlo Taste (Channel 10). She also regularly appears as a guest judge on nationally televised culinary competition programs, including Top Chef (Bravo TV) and Chopped (Food Network), and continues to make appearances on Good Morning America (ABC) cooking segments.
As a culinary tastemaker, Chef Bernstein is often sought out to collaborate and counsel other restaurant and corporate chefs in menu and concept development. She has partnered with American Express to create the menu for the Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport (MIA) and is a Lexus Culinary Master.
Bernstein also devotes time to causes she is passionate about, including Common Threads, a national program that she brought to the South Florida community to teach underprivileged children about cooking and eating healthy.