22 Jul Interview: Get to Know Our Chef
With more than 20 years of captivating restaurant-goers in the South Florida food scene, Chef Arthur Artiles is extensively trained in New World and Mediterranean cuisine but shines his culinary prowess in his Latin cuisine as well as his love for the signature dishes he creates.
How did you get your start?
I began cooking when I was just 13. My parents had split, mom started working late so my brother and I went to my grandparents everyday after school. There my grandmother began showing me how to cook and that is when I got hooked. From there when I graduated high school I went to Johnson & Whales University and received my degree in Culinary Arts. I then continued and received my bachelor’s in hospitality management. While in school I began working in a neighborhood restaurant as a prep cook as well as in the front of the house. From there I went on to work at one of South Florida top restaurants.
What was it like working in South Florida’s restaurant scene at the peak of its popularity?
It was very exciting. I had the opportunity to work in one of Miami’s top-rated restaurant; Norman’s in Coral Gables with Chef Norman Van Aken known as the “founding father of New World Cuisine” which is a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, American and African flavors. There I was exposed to some of the best ingredients available, learned different cooking techniques and detailed service. There I had the opportunity to work in both the pastry department where I later on become the pastry chef as well as in the kitchen and worked my way to Chef de Cuisine.
Share with us what a day in the life looks like at MIC Food, how does it differ from being a chef at a restaurant?
Every day is different. As both the Corporate Chef and Product Development Manager, I have many different things going on. As Corporate Chef I get to work with restaurants, chefs and distributors to present MIC Food’s products to them. I get to show them the quality of our products and the versatility of them. Visiting the chefs and restaurants gives me the opportunity to see what the trends are in the restaurant and what the chefs are doing. This gives me insight as to what our products can do for them. I then change hats to the Product Development manager. Here I start working on creating new items that the chefs/restaurants can use and work closely with our manufacturing plants to have them produce it. Once developed, we test them out in the market before putting it into full production.
What’s your process when creating new dishes? Are there any challenges?
When creating new dishes, I like to see what the current culinary trends are and what chefs are preparing on their menus. I take those ideas as inspiration to create dishes with our products.
The challenge I face is just making sure that it works. I don’t just create a dish for the sake of it. I want to make sure that the flavors go together and that there is a balance.
Explain the importance of cooking with foods like plantains and yuca.
Flavor, versatility and its good for you. Plantains and yuca have good nutritional value and both have distinct flavors that pair very well in different cuisines.
Plantains can be used for either savory or sweet dishes. I have made everything from “Plantain” Fosters to Banana Bread to Plantain-Stuffed Pork. The plantains can be used from their unripened state where you get tostones and dishes like Mofongo. When plantains are semi-ripe (yellow) where you can add them in soups or Fufu. When its ripe you can use them whole in desserts and in savory dishes, you can slice them and make maduros (Ripe Plantain Slices) or mash them and use them in Banana Bread.
Yuca can be used as an alternative in many dishes where you find potatoes. It can be boiled and served with a warm garlic vinaigrette (mojo) or boiled and then fried. It can be milled to make flour and can be used in cakes and doughs. Yuca is great in diets as they offer a good source of vitamins and little fat. Yuca is also naturally gluten free so it’s safe for those with celiac disease.
What is your favorite type of dish to prepare and why?
One of my favorite dishes to prepare is one of the very first that I learned to make with my grandmother. That dish is Fricasse de Pollo: Braised Chicken in a Tomato Sauce. Originally it is prepared with potatoes but I have since tweaked it a bit and substituted the potatoes for yuca.
About MIC Food
Traditionally, plantains and yuca can take up to half an hour to prepare and cook. Here at MIC Food® we are helping chefs, restaurants, industrial kitchens, retail brands, delis, and others in the food industry rethink their menus and increase appeal among ethnic and mainstream consumers alike. We provide variety of products that come peeled and cut, ready-to-heat and serve saving you hours of prep time so you can focus on what matters the most: Making Every Meal Memorable.