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Michael Flores Interiano: Food Scientist

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At the age of 21, Michael Flores Interiano is a sous chef at Cavatelli Italian Trattoria. He  demonstrates culinary technique to students at Johnson & Wales University, and has prepared a turkey club sandwich for President Obama (he liked it). Interiano is somewhat of a mad scientist--always experimenting, always pushing--on the search for something new and exciting in the world of food.

Interiano was a line cook at the unfortunately defunct Cacao under Chef Edgar Leal. Prior to that, Interiano worked at the Biltmore Hotel, where Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige all chowed down on Interiano's contribution to the infamous Sunday brunch.

We expect to see him getting yelled at by Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen or running his own kitchen within the next few years.

Follow the jump for our Q&A with this young up-and-comer:

New Times: When did you first know that you wanted to become a chef?

Michael Flores Interiano: My dad and his family recipes taught me how to cook and I've always liked being the chef. However, I didn't realize this until I met my culinary instructor Mercy Vera at Coral Gables Senior High School. She taught me that food is art and is one of the only things in life that works with your five senses. I always wanted to be an evil scientist--mixing, blowing things up, innovating, etc. But then I realized that you can't eat anything in a physical science lab. Ms. Vera showed what food had to offer, so now I see food as a huge science experiment; the main difference is I can eat the results.

i>What do you consider your specialty?

I'm a Miamian, an international kinda guy. When you put together a little bit of everything, an infusion, you get something better. I like European cuisine, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Then throw in some Japanese and Latin American. Perfect.

What do you eat at home?

I'm rarely home but when I am I'm one picky raton, as my uncle calls me. I eat healthy in the sense that I try and make everything from scratch. I believe we already have enough chemicals in our foods to begin with, so why add more?

What would you like to see Miami restaurants do differently?

I would like for restaurants to aim for simple and fast, fresh but cheap, and most importantly creative and fun.

What is your "can't do without" ingredient?

Salt. Some say it's just a mineral, some say it just a spice, but I say it's both. Science sees salt as a mineral but we cooks use it as a spice, a flavor, a powerful ingredient. Without it life is difficult.

What kitchen appliance or tool can you not live without?

This question makes me feel like a caveman. Now answer this--what was one of the first shiny, sharp tools a caveman used? A knife! Ding ding! My weapon of choice (for cooking of course) is the knife.

Is there any celebrity chef that you hate/admire?

The chef I admire the most that I haven't met is Chef Jose Andres. He's an artist. He takes a dish and reconstructs it, or should I say deconstructs it, in his own way. He believes food should be simple, fun, and tasty.

Is there any "experiment" that you tried that failed miserably?

Honestly, so far I have not met my match. I hope I never do. If something goes wrong, I try and balance the flavors.

What is your favorite meal to make?

Grilled skirt steak med/med rare, better said in Spanish--churrasco, with a large sauce bowl of my chimichuri sauce, a side of herb-garlic mashed potatoes, and vegetable mix: spinach, carrot, summer squash, zucchini, asparagus. Great, now I'm hungry. Be right back.

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