Jacob Anaya of OTC: "We're at the Beginning Stages of the Next Food Mecca"

Since OTC opened in Brickell last year, it has become one of Miami's most popular gastropubs, known for its craft beers and eclectic food selections. There's no question that owner Michael Sullivan has a hit on his hands.

In November, Sullivan brought in a new chef to helm the kitchen. Jacob Anaya, formerly the chef at Azul, the posh restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, spoke with Short Order about cooking, Miami dining, and how his family has influenced his cuisine.

See also: OTC in Brickell: Forging a New Identity

Short Order: When did you realize you wanted to become a chef?

Jacob Anaya: I knew cooking was going be my future while watching my mother and grandmother cook in our kitchen. There were days when I couldn't think about anything other than what they were going to cook for dinner. I always wanted to be a part of the creation; it completely consumed me. They have inspired me to be creative, passionate, and, most of all, share my love of cooking with others.

What's new at OTC?

I'll be rotating the OTC menu often to keep our guests excited and to evolve with the foods, flavors, and ingredients of the season. We'll also be hosting special dinners to showcase local products with unique themes and guest chefs.

Has your Native American and Mexican heritage influenced your cooking style?

From a young age, I cooked with chilies and spices that are uncommon in other cuisines. OTC is an opportunity for me to introduce those flavors from my childhood in New Mexico.

What's your take on the Miami restaurant scene?

It's a very exciting time to be in Miami. We're at the beginning stages of the next food Mecca. Miami has changed a lot in the last two years since I moved here. We're starting to see bigger name chefs create concepts here, as well as more seasonal and local staples. Miami is ready for the next step of its culinary adventure.

Have you discovered any local cuisine you love?

One of my favorites I have found in Miami is croquetas. We will be featuring our version at OTC on the upcoming menu in November.

What do you think about the over-the-counter concept?

I really believe in the OTC concept. I love the idea of ordering over the counter because it's an approachable, time-saving service style that allows our guests to customize their dining experience. It really sets the tone for the OTC experience. I believe we'll start to see more concepts in the future with the same service style.

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