26. Todd Erickson of Haven Gastro-Lounge

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.

As executive chef of Haven Gastro Lounge in South Beach, Todd Erickson blends classic techniques he learned at the Culinary Institute of America with a bit of showmanship. But look behind the smoke and mirrors of the nitro ice cream he's become famous for and you'll find a chef who takes you on a culinary journey to his favorite places on Earth. The opening of his new taco venture, HuaHua's Taqueria, is imminent, and we suggest sitting back and enjoying the ride.

The most influential person in my career has been:

Many, many people have influenced me throughout my career, beginning with my mom and grandmothers igniting my early passion for cooking. Once a professional, I have been inspired by chefs I've never met, encouraged by chefs I've had the opportunity to work for, and blessed to collaborate with chefs I've befriended.

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:

Carbs and dairy. When in serious need of comfort, those two are always there for me. They manage to do the trick in lots of different forms, whether it be mac 'n' cheese, ice-cream sandwiches, fettuccine Alfredo, pastries, or anything else I can get my hands on.

What does Miami need more of?

People who still say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me."

You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?

I may be voted off the island myself when I say this, but here goes: Bacon EVERYTHING! Please do not get me wrong -- I absolutely adore bacon -- but when the big, nasty fast-food chains start putting bacon into their sundaes and Denny's has a "Baconnalia," it's pretty safe to say that the cachet and gourmet of the whole thing has pretty much passed.

You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name and what do you serve?

Wow, I have a bunch of ideas for restaurants. I also have several names that are dear to me. However, at this time I choose to plead the Fifth -- just until someone decides to free up those unlimited funds.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still cooking, still loving every crazy minute of it. Opening new concepts, traveling, and learning.

Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?

Clarissa Dickinson Wright and Jennifer Patterson, collectively known as the Two Fat Ladies (I'm sure they wouldn't mind helping in the kitchen); George Carlin (for his humor); Andy Warhol (for the stories he must have); Adele (that voice!); and JFK (I am fascinated by the presidency).

2013 Tastemakers

30. Allegra Angelo

29. Aaron Brooks

28. Danny Serfer

27. Sam Gorenstein

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss