Chef Miguel Rivas came to the US from the Dominican Republic in 1991. His warm up act before coming to Kentucky? No less than the competitive food world of New York City with a slight detour to Paris, France along the way. It was in New York and Paris that Miguel was educated in the culinary arts and served in numerous high profile apprenticeships is some of America’s best known and finest food venues. Miguel is all about the global influences we enjoy in food today and all of that right here in Lexington, KY! In addition to serving as a chef at Azur Restaurant and Patio and as an original owner in the Azur Food Group, he will be tying his global influences together in a beautiful and colorful tapestry in the newest Azur Food Group venture, Brasabana, featuring Cuban cuisine.
Chef Miguel was educated at the New York Restaurant School, completed eight weeks of training at the CFA Mederic-Ecole Hoteliere de Paris, France, graduated from the New York College of Technology, CUNY, in hospitality management and if that isn’t enough, he is a Certified Culinary Foundation Trainee with The Culinary Institute of America. Serving apprenticeships in several New York City restaurants, he is fondly remembered as the “fish preparer” at the famed and storied Jean George’s Restaurant located in New York’s Central Park and as the “head cook” at Patria Restaurant, which featured Latin and island cuisine.
It was at Patria Restaurant that Chef Miguel’s Latin roots were married to his new American palette and produced in the form of delicious food. Though Patria has moved to New Jersey from New York City, the founder under whom he apprenticed has carried on the tradition of prize winning “nuevo Latino cuisine” in South Beach, Florida with De Rodriguez Cuba Restaurant. A James Beard Award Winning Chef, Douglas Rodriguez played an integral role in Miguel’s culinary journey.
Chef Miguel’s brings to Brasabana’s Cuban cuisine a refreshing and intriguing mix of local and global influences – from the family farm in the Dominican Republic he traversed like a modern day culinary Marco Polo picking up hints, clues and nuances all along the way to the present.
Though many may claim that the farm to table movement is a uniquely American phenomenon, Miguel’s story re-writes the script. Miguel was born and raised on a family farm in the Dominican Republic where fresh and local ingredients were second nature. He speaks lovingly of the dishes prepared for Sunday dinners straight from the garden such as chicken thighs on a bed of rice and covered with sofrito sauce. He was no idle bystander even as a child – he was chosen for his talent and tenacity at an early age when he was charged with “procuring” that lucky barnyard chicken that was honored to serve as Sunday dinner.
Look for Miguel at Brasabana. He is apt to be in the kitchen or conferring with Chef Jeremy over the latest dishes to serve at either restaurant. Or look out the back door – Chef Miguel is likely growing a garden of peppers from his native land or chasing down a fresh chicken.