Travel: Jose Mendin, Pubbelly

A recent layover took us to Miami and a touch of luck and some totally vibing food fairies took us down the road to  Jose Mendin’s, Pubbelly. Now we are not ones to fall easily for food, but this buzzing Miami hot spot had us at first bite (pun most definitely intended)!. Offering up a decedent street-style food menu with all the fine-dining trimmings, it secured our love affair with Miami’s buzzing food scene. Good food, good vibes and a cocktail menu to match – our kind of haunt. And as the story so often goes, we just had to meet and get to know more about the man behind our new found Miami eatery.

As the founder and head chef behind the  Pubbelly Group, Jose Mendin, says the eatery is reflective of his heavy food culture and background. Born into a family of “food enthusiasts”, Jose tapped into his love for food while at college and far away from his mum’s iconic cooking. His passion for food led him to a being part of Nobu Miami’s opening team (we knew there was a reason Jose was our spirit animal) and later Nobu London.

Mendin’s passion for food and learning has carried him gracefully into a successful career. He was part of the opening team at Nobu, Miami and later Nobu, London, and used these foundational Asian influences to parlay the opportunity into a job at SUSHISAMBA Miami. After two years, he was appointed to Assistant Corporate Chef, overseeing all of the brands U.S. locations, which included the 2008 opening of the award-winning SUSHISAMBA, Las Vegas at the Palazzo.

While recognizable U.S. concepts like Mosaico adorn Mendin’s resume, his pursuit to learn in an international kitchen is perhaps what he regards as most influential in his culinary training. Stages in Spain, working under chefs like Jesus Ramiro and Juan Pablo Felipe, were creative processes that forced him out of his comfort zone and later played a role in the menu development at Mercadito, as opening chef of their Chicago and Miami outposts. While in Spain, he worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, cooked for the prince of Spain, and learned how to revitalize ancient recipes, by maintaining the integrity of a dish’s roots and infusing it with modern touches.

Today, Mendin is a hometown hero in both Miami and San Juan, making both of his cities proud. Alongside his business partners Sergio Navarro, Andreas Schreiner and Juan Fernando Ayora, he has taken numerous culinary concepts to critical acclaim, including: Pubbelly (now Pubbelly Noodle Bar), Pubbelly Sushi, Barceloneta, Macchialina, PB Steak and L’echon Brasserie. Chef Mendin has been a recognized semi-finalist of the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef South” for five consecutive years from 2012-2016 and has received national acknowledgements from Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Departures Serious Eats, Departures and The Cooking Channel, among many others.

 

About Jose

Name: Jose Mendin

Time spent at Pubbelly: Out of all the restaurants it is my first and my favorite so I try to spend as much time as possible there

My career began: In a restaurant in Puerto Rico called Urdin in 1997

My passion for food came from: My love of the industry which came from my parents being foodies

Best part of my job: Making people happy

What people don’t expect: To find such bold flavors at our restaurants

Career highlights: The expansion of the Pubbelly Group, also cooking for the Prince of Spain, cooking at the mansion in Dallas with a group of amazing chefs, being nominated 5 times in a row for the James Beard Award and opening PB Ysla in Puerto Rico on April 8, 2017, there are many more but…

Outside of work, my favorite places to eat are: Depends on the mood – but I love steakhouses, Thai and Latin food

The Pubbelly restaurant was launched: In 2010

It was inspired by: All the gastropubs and small restaurants that I used to frequent when living in Chicago

My career highlight here: Having all the chefs that have come to cook with us for the Mendin & Friends series.

 

All about Pubbelly

The name came from: From Gastropub and Pork Belly

We are known for: For delicious food and flavours

Our food philosophy is: Making sure we give people a unique experience

Talk us through the influence behind the current menu: We are focusing more now on noodles, pastas, dim sum and Izakaya style plates. A blend of Asian and European dishes

Most popular dish: Japanese Amberjack with lemograss romesco, hazelnuts, morrones.

Personal favorite: Bay Scallops Escargot and Mofongo with Shoyu Broth

You can’t leave here without trying: The short rib dumplings

Let’s talk location, we chose here because: It was an area in Miami Beach that had a lot of potential but was still not developed well

The ambience is: Fun

Dress code: Casual

Most decadent dessert: Our mason jar with dulce de leche mousse, strawberries and crème brulee foam

The wine list was inspired by: Boutique wineries and good Spanish wine

Wine list highlight: My favorite is Emilio Moro – Malleoulus

What makes the experience unique? Everything together.

What’s next? Hopefully more restaurants.