Paula DaSilva is one tough cookie. Working in kitchens since age 10, chef de cuisine at 21, Hell's Kitchen finalist at 28 and executive chef of a critically acclaimed restaurant by 31, this lady doesn't just take the heat: she brings it.
As executive chef of 1500° at Eden Roc Renaissance in Miami Beach, DaSilva has garnered serious critical acclaim while still keeping the locals happy. In 2011, 1500° was the only Florida restaurant featured in Esquire's "Best New Restaurants in America." She's been invited to cook at the James Beard house and is, sa seven-time participant in the Epcot International Food and Wine Fest.
She fuses farm-to-table with classic steakhouse fare. Who wouldn't want to feel eco-friendly while downing a colossal chunk o' cow?
The most influential person in my career has been:
I credit both of my parents for starting it up. If they never opened up their three restaurants and broke the laws of child labor by making me work at the age of ten, I may not have ended up doing what I love to do now!
When I'm alone and in need of comfort, (and no one is there to watch or judge) the one food or drink I turn to is:
I like my ice cream somewhat soft, so I will pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften up and eat it with a warm cookie. I always get unwanted comments from people (you know who you are) when they see me "microwaving" my ice cream!
What does Miami need more of?
Bad ass knife stores like Korin and also a master Japanese knife sharpener!
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
Stone crab claws. I really think they are being over-fished and over-used and just need to be left in the ocean. I especially can't stand when they are served out of their harvest season. Also, the Sprite and Coke mix to sub for a ginger ale. If I order a ginger ale, I want a damn ginger ale!
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name and what do you serve?
The name would be Pig n' Egg. It would be really small, rustic and quaint. The menu would be small, sharing style and change depending on the seasons and availability. And it must also have a full bar with great cocktails!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd like to have at least three restaurants that I am working with, a cookbook and a few kids in tow!
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
I'd probably pick some really interesting and influential people like Steve Irwin, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Rosa Parks, Christopher Columbus and Julia Child.
New Times' Best of Miami 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Short Order is serving up the top 30 tastemakers in the 305. These people have helped shape the Miami food scene into what it is today. We began with number 30 and will lead up to the county's number one. A Q&A session is included in each post.