Position: Chef Partner, Barceloneta / Executive Chef, Caña
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing/ Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts
Restaurant: Barceloneta/ Caña by Juliana Gonzalez
Awards: Zest Award, newcomer of the year 2012[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Juliana Gonzalez obtained her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Marketing at the Interamerican University in San German, Puerto Rico, but gastronomy has long been her foremost interest. Childhood memories in the kitchen with her mother inspired her to make the leap to culinary school. She decided upon graduation to take her love of cooking to the next step by further pursuing an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University, Florida.
Gonzalez interned at La Broche by Sergi Arola (2 Michelin Stars) in Madrid, Spain. She was then sent in 2002 with the opening team for the restaurants sister location here in Miami. As Chef de Partie and Pastry Assistant, she learned the fundamentals of operating a Michelin star-level kitchen including maintaining the utmost quality of the food, staff training and kitchen administration.
In 2004, Gonzalez undertook a new culinary adventure by accepting the position of Chef de Cuisine at Mosaico Restaurant. Here she achieved the independence to elaborate on authentic recipes and she brought her own personal flair to its Spanish cuisine.
With two solid ventures at La Broche and Mosaico behind her, in 2006 Gonzalez tackled the ever-changing South Beach dining scene by joining The Restaurant at The Setai as Chef de Partie. Specializing in Asian-Trans-Ethnic Cuisine, the position exposed her to a variety of foods and preparation methods from Thailand, Japan, China and India. However, soon after joining The Restaurant, she learned that the acclaimed chef David Bouley was coming to Miami. Like anyone passionate about their craft, she seized the opportunity to work by his side.
Hired as Sous Chef, the opening of David Bouley Evolution provided Gonzalez with a chance to also adopt excellent French and Japanese techniques. Her understanding of fusion-cooking took shape at Evolution and was ultimately realized at Nobu, The Shore Club’s popular Japanese and Peruvian eatery.
In 2008, Gonzalez brought her worldly, culinary sensibilities to Sushi Samba Dromo. Named Chef de Cuisine of the Lincoln Road outpost and boasting significant experience in the industry, her devotion, talent and drive enabled her to lead a solid team through three record breaking years.
In 2011 Gonzalez was inspired by her husbands recent success with Pubbelly Restaurant, and decided it was time to take a leap. She joined forces with Daniella Rezai and Manuel Suarez-Inclan with the support of the Pubbelly Crew and created Barceloneta Mercat and Bistro.
When creating the concept and menu, Juliana relied upon her past experiences in such varied kitchens and decided upon Catalan Cuisine. Her stints at La Broche and Mosaico are evident in the well-crafted and creative menu she now offers in her restaurant. She has surrounded herself with an amazing team of aspiring cooks who have chosen to participate in her latest adventure. She is ever evolving her menu through research on trends and inspirations by chefs from throughout the world, yet her main inspiration comes from her team as they work together with ideas and are creating some stellar dishes that are making waves in the South Beach Culinary scene. “This is only the beginning” Gonzalez says, as she is constantly thinking of new concepts and ideas she would love to bring forth and make a reality.
The Chef’s Connection: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Juliana Gonzalez: I never knew….. I wanted to do anything that didn’t took many years of studying.
TCC: What’s your favorite thing about being a chef?
JG: To lead a team and get creative with ingredients.
TCC: Did you have an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef?
JG: When I did my stage in Spain and saw the passion of the cooks, I wanted to be like them and love what I was doing the same way. Passion, love, dedication, looking for perfection.
TCC: Best advice you ever got?
JG: Never give up and keep trying.
TCC: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
JG: Depends on what people consider strange……. Monkfish liver, calf brains, frog legs, alligator, alpaca, never insects please.
TCC: What’s your favorite ingredient?
JG: Herb, thyme. Protein, rabbit. Fruit, cherries. Vegetable, roots. Greens, upland cress. Nuts, hazelnuts. Seeds, sunflower. Grain, rice. Legumes, garbanzo beans.
TCC: What ingredient turns you off the most?
JG: I love tuna but it turns me off because is over fished.
TCC: What’s your favorite tool in the kitchen?
JG: My knives.
TCC: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not cooking?
JG: Drink wine or Scotch.
TCC: What would you like to do before you get too old to do it?
JG: Hike a big mountain, like Everest.
TCC: Tell us a deep dark secret (doesn’t have to be food related).
JG: I don’t carry dark secrets.
TCC: How do you deal with the stress?
JG: Traveling, going to the beach and hanging with my friends.
TCC: Tell us a funny story from the kitchen.
JG: Looking for my apron like crazy and then I realized that I have it on.
TCC: Who would you like to meet?
JG: Ragnar “Travis Fimmel”
TCC: Who would you like to cook for?
JG: For the poor hungry kids.
TCC: What was the hardest thing for you to learn? Or is there something you just can’t get right?
TCC: Is there some little something you do for your family to make up for the time you’re not with them?
JG: Visit them on my vacations.
TCC: How did becoming a chef change your life? Your direction.
JG: It made me thrive in life.
TCC: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
JG: My own restaurant.
TCC: What is your goal? Your own restaurant if you don’t have one? Lots of restaurants? Something else?
JG: Open up several more restaurants.