Michelle Bernstein is Sra. Martinez and so much more

Michelle Bernstein has quickly risen from aspiring professional ballet dancer in New York to one of America's brightest culinary stars. Just ask her peers. Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine says of Bernstein: "How can you not fall in love with her? Besides the fact that she is smart and talented... Michelle also has serious cooking clout. She has used her expansive experience to create food that is deeply personal, refined, and perpetually delicious, without being fussy."

To Bernstein, success happens when "you truly feel it in your soul. When you are doing what you love, doing it well, and believe wholeheartedly that you have given it your all." She admits to "have felt it in pieces, but not fully... yet."

Alongside husband and business partner David Martinez, Bernstein is on an adventure that now encompasses three South Florida restaurants, including Michy's (6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-759-2001), Sra. Martinez (4000 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-5474), and the newly minted Michelle Bernstein Restaurant at the Omphoy Ocean Resort (2842 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach; 561-540-6444).

"[David and I] are truly striving for separation of work and personal," she explains. "It's so hard not to speak about work — we sometimes forget about... us."

Her extracurricular activities include Check, Please!, a PBS series featuring South Florida diners; and Common Threads, a national program educating underprivileged kids about cooking and eating healthfully. "[These projects] haven't influenced me in the kitchen," Bernstein says. "They have influenced my life."

Bernstein's beaming smile is endearing and, like her humanity, something that will come in handy for her next dream. "I want to buy some Airstream [trailers], park on the side of the road, and sell homemade food." Knowing Sra. Martinez, we think she'll find a way to make it happen.

For more information, visit the new chefmichellebernstein.com.

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Jackie Sayet