Chef of the Week: Jorge Echeverry, Head Chef at Chotto Matte Miami

In a recent podcast for The Miami Guide, Kurt Zdesar, Founder of Chotto Matte said that Miami was the obvious choice for his first international venue.  Originally launched in 2018, the restaurant was hampered by the pandemic, as was the case with the entire industry on a global level, however, Chotto Matte Miami has recently been relaunched and held a grand reopening last October.

Head Chef Jorge Echeverry said

“We pride ourselves on using locally-sourced seasonal, organic ingredients and produce wherever possible” said Echeverry – “It is really important that our menu is clean, healthy and fresh – We have a strict ban on any MSG, or GMO being used in our kitchens across all six Chotto Matte sites in Canada, America, Middle East and the UK.

“We have created a fantastic menu of innovative Nikkei cuisine – A fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours and it has proven as popular here in Miami as in London with our two sister sites in Soho and Marylebone.

“We have a whole range of tempura, delicious meats cooked on the robata grill and mouth-watering , eye-catching sushi dishes, all designed by our brilliant Group Executive Chef, Jordan Sclare.  Kurt and Jordan travelled from Japan to Peru, meeting local chefs and learning traditional techniques, which makes for a really authentic and vibrant menu.”

Jorge is delighted to be Chef of the Week, we asked him a few questions…

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I started my journey with Chotto Matte Miami, 2 years ago and counting!

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My father was a foodie, he loves to cook and eat. He used to take me everywhere he goes to try food, we used to watch food channels and talk about the recipes and little by little I start cooking at home, that’s how my passion was born. When I turned 18 years old, I left my country (Colombia) to start my formation as a chef in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I enrolled at the culinary school Mausi Sebess, where I got my degree as professional pâtisserie, boulangerie and cook.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Being able to touch people souls through the food they eat and see how they react to every bite, the ecstasy and creating a memorable experience is what I enjoy the most.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
As a solid foundation for a wide range of cuisines and recipes I will say salt is a fundamental seasoning that brings out natural flavours of the ingredients enhancing and balancing almost any dish. Olive oil is a versatile and healthy cooking fat that adds richness and depth to dishes. Garlic is a flavour powerhouse that can transform a dish and adds a savoury and aromatic element to many cuisines.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My Gyuto knife, it’s versatile and precise.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
The proliferation of omakases has hooked on in Miami in all forms, there’s no shortage of spots to try this experience.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
There is a few actually, but poor communication and failure to adapt to changes are some of the most relevant to me. Clear and concise communication is crucial, also adaptability is a valuable skill in the industry.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
The winter months, we see festive culinary events and holiday-themed dining experiences.  It’s like a calling to everyone, a warmth feeling, to join and share memories around the table.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Salmon tataki with a chilli mango leche de tigre and quinoa cracker, is a recipe that I been working on, and I will do a tasting with our group executive chef Jordan Sclare, if I have his approval, it might go live as a special for our Miami location.

How do you come up with new dishes?
By trying new dishes and food concepts, cooking with colleagues usually feeds the creativity and innovation. Next year I plan to do more traveling with this purpose.

Who was your greatest influence?
My teacher back at the cooking school, Omar, very wise, straightforward, and respectable. He was a great guide, allowing me to develop my skills and find the way to the path I wanted to build for my life as a chef.

 Tell us three chefs you admire.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The Flavour Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is a great resource for chefs looking to understand flavour pairings and combinations. It provides insights into the relationships between different ingredients.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I don’t have anyone in my sight right now, there’s is a lot of talented chefs out there.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The re launch of Chotto Matte Miami, with a beautiful visual art on the walls, fresh and cool furniture, the amazing food, honestly is a hidden gem in Miami.