After working for others and then co-owning a short-lived but ambitious venture (The Strand), Bernstein took a major leap: She left South Beach for Brickell Key and the luxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Within a year food critic John Mariani from Esquire named her restaurant, Azul, the best of 2001. The Food TV network hired her to host a series on tropical foods. And the Vita-Prep people picked her to pose with a blender between her legs, an advertisement that numero uno trade mag Food Arts featured prominently. Can any other native make that kind of claim to national fame?