Getting real with chef Tristen Epps, the visionary behind Ocean Social at Eden Rock Miami Beach.


WHAT’S YOUR PREFERRED DISH TO PREPARE FOR A CLIENT? Local fish crudo with chilled tomato dashi. I love it because it represents what Ocean Social is all about. Firstly, the restaurant is located on the ocean, so we strive to serve seafood from local waters to help diners get that connection. Secondly, the dish has a strong flavor but is light and contains varying textures.

WHICH LOCAL GASTRONOMY EXCITES YOU? Miami is home to many Colombians and Haitians, and I love their culture … and food. Haitian favorites include griot, diri djon djon, and pikliz. I love Colombian cuisine, especially its soups and stews like the sancocho, a dish made with meats, vegetables, and tubers.

The Little River neighborhood is an excellent mix of established Caribbean and Haitian food and newer interesting spots that I love. From ‘hole-in-the-wall’ kind of places like B+H Roti for some great West Indian grub to La Santa for amazing tacos, Off-Site Brewery, Hachidori Ramen, and Tran An for excellent banh mi, there’s a ton of diversity and lots of new places to check out.

ANY FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS? I’d say Rosie’s by Akino West, Walrus Rodeo, and Chick’N Jones from Amaris Jones. With Rosie’s, it’s all about Southern cooking with some flair. Akino has had great success serving breakfast and brunch only, and I really admire what he’s done and how great the food is. Amaris does fried chicken like no one else, and she’s a good friend, so it’s a double win there. I love going to Walrus Rodeo. First, it’s by Luci and Alex from Boia De, so you know it’s gotta be good. Chef Jeff Mayfield really knows how to cook, and the food is delicious.

TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR BELOVED AND UNEXPECTED MIAMI HANGOUTS. I love going to Fairchild Botanical Garden to check out the amazing plant life, both native and imported by David Fairchild, and the Frost Museum of Science for some excellent interactive exhibits. Yellow Green Farmers Market is also great for eating, shopping, and wandering around.

WHY IS MIAMI HOME? I’ve traveled and lived in many places worldwide, but I always love coming back to Miami. There’s a cultural diversity here that most US cities don’t offer and that I find stimulating and comforting at the same time. And, of course, the weather, especially on a sunny, perfect winter day!

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