Chef: Mario Alegre
Position: Chef de Cuisine, Sugarcane. Miami, FL
How did you get started?
It all started my junior year in high school when I had the opportunity to take part in a culinary program. The instructor of the program had attended Johnson & Wales University (JWU). Having no clue what I wanted to do professionally, I decided to apply at JWU’s culinary program. I believe it’s not only the food or ingredients that draw someone’s attention to a career in the culinary industry, it’s also the environment. It’s edgy, it’s stressful, and it keeps you coming back for more.
What was your first position?
I started as an intern at The Tides South Beach under French Chef Guy Gateau and Thomas Rossi. Later on, I landed the opportunity of joining the opening team for The Dutch at W South Beach by Chef Andrew Carmellini. I started as a pasta cook and worked all the way to Executive Sous Chef for the property.
The story behind the dish:
This dish reminds me of growing up in Puerto Rico. The crispy yuca, sofrito, and fish broth are all strong components of our Caribbean & Creole cuisine.
Pulpo en Caldo de Pescado
Ingredients for Sofrito
600g yellow onion, large dice
80g garlic cloves
3 habaneros, no seeds
10ea piquillo peppers, washed
4ea poblanos, no seeds and roasted
10 whole bunches of cilantro
10 bay leaf
1/2 pt white wine vinegar
1. Using blended oil sweat onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook until tender and no color. Set aside.
2. In a blender, preferably Vitamix, begin blending the cooked veggies while incorporating the herbs.
3. Add vinegar and season to taste.
Ingredients for Caldo de Pescado
300g yellow onion, sliced
4tbsp tomato paste
1pt of jersey tomato (do not use compote)
1qt of fish fumet
60g green olives
2 tsp Calabrian chili
1/4pt white wine vinegar
1. Using blended oil, sweat onions until tender and no color.
2. Add remaining ingredients and bring up to a simmer.
3. In a blender, preferably Vitamix, blend everything until smooth.
4. Pass thru a fine strainer. Cooldown and set aside.
1# frozen yucca
1. In a pot, add ingredients. Bring to a simmer.
2. Cook Yucca until translucent.
3. Strain Yucca and set aside to cool down.
4. Once you are able to handle it, clean the cooked yucca removing the strings.
5. Whip cleaned yucca in a Kitchen Aid mixer on medium speed with a paddle until smooth.
6. Portion whipped Yucca into your silicone molds and place in the refrigerator to cool and harden overnight.
7. Fry the yucca cakes at 350F until golden brown.
1cs octopus 4/6lb (30lb total)
2.5lt white wine
1 can plum tomatoes crushes
2 onion cut in 6
2 head of funnel cut in 6
1 bunch celery, 2'' cut
4 heads garlic split in half
2 carrots peeled and cut 1" thick
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch oregano
Remove head of the octopus and the peek, cut in between 2 tentacles to shape the octopus-like a curtain. Place some mirepoix on the bottom of a 6" hotel pan, lay octopus flat add tomatoes and wine to cover and some more mirepoix (make sure octopus is completely submerged), place a roasting rack on top to create some pressure and cook at 290F combination 90% humidity for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check to make sure it is tender then pull out carefully with a spider, put on a sheet tray with roasting rack and let it cool.
I believe it’s not only the food or ingredients that draw someone’s attention to a career in the culinary industry, it’s also the environment. It’s edgy, it’s stressful, and it keeps you coming back for more.
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Story on the Pass