Matthew Oetting of BLT Steak: From NYC to MIA

See also Julie Frans's San Diego roots.

Given our recent strides as a culinary destination, scores of outsider talent has been making its way to our burgeoning backyard. Transplanted from the kitchens of New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Paris and elsewhere, talented folk are creating a host of new culinary creations for hungry Miamians.

In part two of this Transplant Chefs series, we meet Matthew Oetting, newly named chef de cuisine at the Betsy Hotel's BLT Steak.

The New York-born Matthew got his first kitchen gig at age 15, and worked his way up in restaurants from Arizona to the Big Apple. Formerly the executive chef for the Trump Soho in NYC (not to mention gigs at various other prestigious NYC eateries), he's now whipping up creative concoctions for adventurous eaters down Miami way.

We spoke to Matthew on Miami diners, NYC stubbornness and the merits of a foie grois stuffed blueberry poached pear.

Short Order: What prompted you to relocate to Miami and take a position with BLT Steak?
Matthew Oetting: My wife and I had just had our baby and were looking for more space and better weather. I got the opportunity to meet Laurent Tourondel while still working in New York and he asked if I'd like to fly to Miami and do a tasting. I had a great experience working in the BLT kitchen and of course the weather was incredible. I couldn't refuse the offer to work for such a prestigious establishment under star chef Laurent Tourondel. No one in their right mind would.

What do you find most exciting about Miami's burgeoning culinary scene?
What's most exciting to me is seeing all the big name chefs I was familiar with in New York opening restaurants all over Miami. For example: Scott Conant and Scarpetta, Andrew Carmellini and The Dutch, Jose Andres and Bazaar, J&G Grill, DB Bistro, and the list goes on.

How does the culinary landscape differ from New York? How do you see yourself adding to it?
New York has more great restaurants, cafes, bistros, pizza joints, and food trucks then you can shake a stick at. New Yorkers will argue where to get "da best" anything till they're blue in the face. I want to add that mentality to the Miami dinning community. No matter what's on your plate at BLT, whether it be our steaks, oysters, burgers, or even sushi, I want people to feel that its "da best."

What changes do you see coming to our city?
More dining reviews, more celeb chefs, and most exciting, more knowledgeable diners with higher expectations. Challenge and competition helps to motivate and inspire chefs.

How does your current position differ from your role at The Trump Soho and your other previous positions?
It has all the same roles and responsibilities, though here at BLT we just opened our sushi/raw bar, it reminded me a bit of opening Trump, just on a smaller scale.

How does your city of origin affect the menus you create for BLT Steak?
There is so much culinary diversity in New York. You could have Korean BBQ, tapas, sushi, and French brasserie cuisine all on the same block. So my inspiration comes from that and my menus tend to blur the lines of popular cuisine. You can find combinations like barbecued duck confit with tempura sticky rice and Fresno chili.

What dish, item or method of preparation would you say is most representative of your 10 years in NYC restaurants?
I do a spiced blueberry poached pear filled with foie gras and served with a shaved radish salad. It was recently featured in the book Salad by Alan Battman.

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