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Michelle Bernstein

Cena, in Spanish and Italian, means dinner. And in Miami, chef Michelle Bernstein has been bringing a world of flavors to that meal, in delicious, uncomplicated, award-winning fashion for more than a decade. So when in May 2015, Bernstein, the Miami native with Argentine and Italian-Jewish roots, relaunched her signature restaurant, Michy’s, as Cena by Michy, after a sleek renovation, the name just seemed to make sense. With dishes like sweetbread tacos, grilled prawns with salsa verde, a creamy plate of fettucine carbonara (with jamón Serrano, no less), Bernstein carries on her unique meld of culinary traditions.

“I was born and raised here,” says Bernstein, who was given the 2008 James Beard Award for Best Chef/South. “I’ve left a few times, but I keep coming back to Miami. This is what inspires me, especially the people and the cultures.” She left once for culinary studies at Johnson & Wales University, and after graduation headed back to Miami, where she got rave reviews for her sophisticated cooking at restaurant Azul, in the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel. With husband and business partner David Martinez she opened Michy’s in 2006 (voted one of Gourmet magazine’s Best 50 Restaurants in the U.S.), tapas restaurant Sra. Martinez (now closed) in 2008, restaurants at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach in 2009, and launched MBC Michelle Bernstein Catering Company. Later came Miami Design District bakery and café Crumb on Parchment, and Seagrape restaurant in the Thompson Hotel. And if that weren’t enough, she published a cookbook, Cuisine à Latina: Fresh Tastes and a World of Flavors from Michy’s Miami Kitchen.

On television Bernstein has battled Bobby Flay (and won) on Iron Chef America,co-hosted the Food Network’s Melting Pot, continues to explore local food on the ongoing PBS show Check, Please! South Florida, and is now host of the WLPG program SloFlo Taste

Giving back to the community is high on Bernstein’s priority list. She’s involved with nonprofit Common Threads, an after-school program for underprivileged young kids that introduces them to the joy and smarts of cooking good, nutritious food. 

 
  • Ricotta Poundcake Rhubarb Compote
    Moveable Feast

    Ricotta-Lemon Pound Cake with Rhubarb-Strawberry-Raisin Compote and Mascarpone Cream

    The refreshing flavors of fresh ricotta and lemon create a bright and delicious flavor. Top with the rhubarb-strawberry-raisin compote for a zesty, fruity hit of flavor.

  • Bread Pudding
    Moveable Feast

    Rum-Flavored Bread Pudding

    Michelle Bernstein created this classic bread pudding to show off Bermuda's famous rum. She combines pound cake cubes with challah or brioche, for richness, and toasts both of them before…

  • leek-fennel-stuffed whole fish
    Moveable Feast

    Leek and Fennel-Stuffed Whole Fish with Mojo de Ajo

    To really impress your guests, present this fish whole, nestled on a bed of roasted tomatoes. It’s a guaranteed showstopper and much simpler to prepare than it looks.

  • carrot crostini recipe
    Moveable Feast

    Roasted Carrot Crostini with Honeyed Ricotta

    The flavors of the Middle East, earthy roasted carrots, and sweet, creamy ricotta create something special in this easy crowd-pleasing starter.

  • Moveable Feast

    Miami, Florida (311)

    Episode 11, season 3 of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking features 3 renowned Miami chefs, Michelle Bernstein, Lindsay Autry, and Cindy Hutson, who making cooking with exotic produce easy.

  • Recipe

    Islas Flotantes

    In this tropical rendition of the classic French dessert île flottante (floating island), meringues are poached in a mixture of coconut milk and puréed fruit, instead of the traditional custard.

  • Recipe

    Shellfish with Fennel, Escarole, and Kale

    Your Christmas Eve meal should be festive, but not so labor-intensive you spend all your time in the kitchen instead of visiting with family and friends. This simple but indulgent…