New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's culinary all-stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city a unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
Cable TV shows such as Top Chef and No Reservations have helped to create a brand-new celebrity status for chefs. But good looks and a hip persona don't amount to much if you don't have the culinary skills to back them up.
Enter Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The cutting-edge facility turns out professionals in fields such as culinary management, beverage management, and restaurant/food service management.
Behind this institute of higher learning in the culinary arts is the school's dean, Mike Hampton. Dean Hampton was tapped to lead the school in 2011 after amassing more than two decades of direct experience in the hospitality industry and multiple degrees, including an educational doctorate in adult education and human resources development from Florida International University.
But it's Hampton's dedication to the school's students and community that sets him apart. Under his leadership, the school has launched three state-of-the-art laboratories, including a brew science laboratory and the Wine Spectator restaurant management laboratory, which allows students to have total hands-on immersion in their studies.
Hampton also has embraced the Miami community with the Chaplin School's homebrewing classes, which are open to the public, and its partnership with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where students work with celebrity chefs and major local restaurateurs in what has to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
With all of this on his plate, Hampton still finds time to enjoy trips to the mountains and pursue his passion of finding the perfect cup of coffee.
Hampton spent much of his childhood in France, where he quickly learned to appreciate different tastes and flavors from the various regions. That early exposure to culinary arts propelled his interest in world cuisines. As the dean of the Chaplin School, Hampton travels the world to learn more about global influences on food, with the goal of sharing his findings with his students.
In His Own Words:
"The Miami food scene today is bursting with creativity. The wealth of restaurant offerings is able to please all tastes, from novice to sophisticated palates, stimulating new thinking and approaches toward food. It is very exciting."
Miami Food All-Stars
25. Dewey LoSasso
24. Mark Soyka
23. Jason Starkman
22. Lorena Garcia
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21. Barton G.
Let your voice be heard by voting in our Readers' Poll. Visit readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com by June 4. Then check out the 27th-annual Best of Miami issue, available online and in print Thursday, June 19, to see if your favorites won.