Chef Cindy Hutson has been a major player in the restaurant scene since her 1994 debut, Norma's. In recent years, her Coral Gables favorite, Ortanique on the Mile, has seen continued success while the chef has expanded her reach to the Caymans, the Bahamas, and, soon, to Brickell. The new Southeast Financial Center restaurant, called Zest will serve "cuisine from the sun." The attached Zest Mrkt will offer made-to-order and packaged sandwiches, salads, and a Cuban coffee window.
Zest will also feature a shawarma rotisserie -- think curried lamb or jerked pork with various and delectable aiolis for the perfect wrap or sandwich -- inspired by her travels to Istanbul. Ever expanding her horizons, Hutson is making the move to publishing with her upcoming cookbook From the Tip of My Tongue.
The cookbook had been in the works for years, Hutson says. It wasn't until she started writing out recipes for her Saturday morning cooking classes that she realized she wanted to write something more for the home cook. She decided the celebrity cookbook formula wasn't for her.
"That would only satisfy my ego, and that was not what I wanted," she said. "The home cook needs a real cookbook where you can go to your cupboard and grab a jar of marmalade and incorporate it into my recipes." Her goal is to not have recipes that are arduous and hard to follow, but ones that are friendly to those cooking casually at home.
The title of the cookbook, From the Tip of My Tongue, was chosen because of the chef's love of talking about the extraordinary flavors of her many travels.
Hutson lets out a huge smile and laughs when asked about challenges writing the book. She recently worked for two hours to make a perfect recipe, and right when she tried to save her work it was deleted instead. Poof. She started crying and Delius, her longtime partner, worked for an hour to find it, but it was gone. "I am a blunderer on the computer; illiterate," Huston says.
She then reminisced about finding some really old recipes and while paging through them, laughed at some red marks and circles intended to remind her of such important things as remembering to make sure that the red onions are fresh. She has years of these handwritten recipes and books sitting on the shelves at Ortanique.
Hutson says the cookbook will be "vibrant, colorful, and ethnic." Some of the pictures will be of her daughter Ashley climbing a 40-foot breadfruit tree, which she learned to do with her brothers in the Bahamas, like the owner of legendary Angela Starfish who has been around for over 40 years.
Hutson's From the Tip of My Tongue will hit the shelves just before the South Beach Food & Wine festival.