Since drawing the national spotlight in the mid 1990’s, Chef Michelle Bernstein has remained one of the region’s most well-respected and suc-cessful chefs/restaurateurs. A Miami native of Jewish and Latin descent, this passionate culinaire has daz-zled diners and critics alike with her sublime cuisine and a personality as bright and vibrant as the Florida sun. These days, Bernstein is busier than ever. Beyond successful restaurants, Michy’s and Crumb on Parchment, Bernstein dedicates time to Common Threads, an after-school program for underprivileged kids, and regu-larly appears on an array of national TV shows, from Top Chef to Good Morning America. Le CITY deluxe has caught up with Miami’s top chef to see what she has cooking in her bustling life.
Michelle, it’s such a pleasure to meet you in person. Now being a rockstar in the local Florida community, running your own restaurant, writing a book and having your own TV show, you are a busy woman: Yeah. I have eight jobs in total.
You have eight jobs? Kids and a husband as well? So those are the other four jobs?
No, I actually have eight regular jobs. My other jobs don’t pay me so I don’t call them jobs. I have a two and a half year old and he is a challenge more than a job. His name is Zachary, but I call him Zachalicious.
How do you find the time for work and family? Where lies the balance?
There’s always enough hours in the day. As long as I sleep well, I can do anything. So for example, our day today started at 7:30am. I made breakfast for the family, I prepared lunch for my son, by 9:00am I was actually at one of our restaurants preparing dishes for an airline, as well as coming up with dishes for tonight’s tennis open and then we came up for dishes for the restaurant I was in and then by 2:30 pm I was at my other restaurant preparing specials and cooking more. Then I went to see my son when he woke up from his nap, fed him lunch and after working on the computer hatching up new recipes for another company that I work with all while coming up with menus for a champagne company.
Seeing that you’re a great chef and a won-derful mother, you seem like a great person in general.
Oh, I’m ridiculous. I don’t think I know how to say no at this point in my life so this is something I’m working on.
With such a hectic schedule, how do you stay in communication with your family?
We work together; so normally my husband and I are always together.
Having so many achievements in life, if there’s anything else you’d like to achieve, what would it be?
My dream is for my son to like me when he is 12. I want to be a good mom to my son.
What is your dream on a professional level?
I want a nicer kitchen for myself. In a restaurant, the kitchen is the last thing to be worked on. Also I started a foundation here that teaches underserved kids to cook and I would like that to grow into all of the public schools. I don’t know why schools stopped teaching kids how to cook. We've already gotten 50 schools to start the cooking program. One of the best classes that I had in middle school was my cooking class and it gave me instant gratification and it taught me that I could be proud of myself. It gave me a little bit of a skill and I want to bring that back.
Do you have enough profit to take that program further?
Yes we do. It’s called Common Threads. It was started in Chicago and I fell in love with the program and decided to start it in Florida. So I’ve done a lot of fundraisers, just at my own restaurants and we got it going. We hope the program reaches another 50 schools in the next couple of years. This program is for little kids but now we also got it into high schools so we want to it grow and be all over Florida. I not only want the kids but I also want their parents to cook with them at home. Americans usually don’t cook at home very often and to us, we’re Latin, so that’s what we do and I find that it’s so important to teach these young kids about healthy food and nutrition.