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Kitchen Inquisition: Chef Alex Martinez

Kitchen Inquisition: Chef Alex Martinez

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Proving that Espanola Way is more than the name, Drexel Irish Pub is adding its own unique flavor. Nestled at the corner of Drexel Avenue, this promising local favorite offers Miamians authentic Irish cuisine and a bar to match.

Executive chef Alex Martinez is leading the kitchen, bringing locals his best Irish Stew and an attitude to match. Along with a love for calm cooking, a passion for music makes Martinez a man of two worlds. Though you can't watch his best performance in kitchen, you may find Martinez playing guitar at another local venue.

What do you do best?
Everyone says my soups and my sauces are really good. I come up with a lot of different soups. I like to put in a lot of strong flavors. For instance, if ginger is in the soup than I make sure you taste the ginger. I like to make sure all the flavors are really pronounced.

When did you know you were destined to be a chef?
I always cooked with my mother. When I was in high school I took “home ec.” That was a popular class for dudes to take. I cooked with my grandmother and mother all the time so I was always in the kitchen. Then when I started looking for jobs after high school I found work in kitchens. From there it progressed. It just kind of worked out that way.

Fondest food memory?
It would have to be my Grandmother’s beef stew. She’s not around anymore so I don’t get to have it, but, man, it was good when it was here. I don’t have the recipe; that’s a shame but it was good, though.

What does the Pub bring to South Beach’s dining scene?
We’re just trying to do authentic Irish dishes. It’s good bar food. We do everything fresh here; we don’t buy our dressings, we make everything from scratch, and lots of places don’t do that. I pride myself on that. So we can do something fresh and something a little different than your frozen burger patty on the grill.

Best and worst thing about the life of a chef?
The best thing is you get to eat a lot and lot of different kinds of foods. The worst thing is how much you have to work. Sometimes I work seven days a week and 12 – 14 hour days, so that’s not glamorous but it comes along with the territory.

What does it take to be a great chef?
Definitely knowledge is one thing. For me, work ethic because a lot of chefs don’t like to get in the kitchen and cook, but you’ll find me every night on the line cooking with my guys. I’m always there in the kitchen. It’s the only way to make sure everything is perfect. And the way I really want it to be.

What’s unique about your style?
I try to be a calm, laid back kind of chef. Because I’ve worked with guys that are crazy and they scream and they yell. I scream and yell sometimes, too, but that’s not me. I try to be the opposite of that, just laid back and relaxed and cook good food.

What’s the first dish you learned how to make?
I can remember cooking with my mother in the kitchen and I learned it Home Ec. I said, "Oh my god, I have to go home and do this!" I went home and I made a pizza from scratch. I made the dough. I made a whole pizza at 12 years old. How did it come out? It was alright, but I could do it better now.

What don’t people know about you?
One thing people don’t know about me is I was signed to major label band. I was touring around the country for four or five years. I was in Rolling Stone magazine, came out on MTV — a bunch of different things. So I had a crazy fun life inbetween the chef thing that I’ve been doing. Both are 24-hour jobs. Most people who would have to work seven days a week, 14 hours would say this sucks, but I don’t mind it. Same thing with music. You're always on. So I guess that’s what I like. Always being on.

Will this be as popular as Brickell Irish Pub?
I think so. I’m not a beach person. I don’t hang out here all the time. But from being around here recently I haven’t really seen anything like the Brickell Irish Pub. I think we’re a little unique spot here. It’s a nice cozy corner for locals to come and this will be their bar. This would be my bar if I lived here.

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