Steve MenterEl Vez
Executive Chef, El Vez (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Though Steve Menter has built a promising career around exploring the complexities of authentic Mexican cuisine, he grew up eating and cooking from an entirely different perspective. The Dallas native’s earliest food memories involve his parents and grandparents serving traditional South African and Jewish dishes, from meats like biltong and boerewors to old-school matzo ball soup and pickled herring.
Leaving Texas to pursue an education at Evergreen State in Olympia, Washington, Menter worked in restaurants throughout college, even logging a short stint as the owner of a small burrito bar. But it wasn’t until 2009, when Menter enrolled himself in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, that he decided to pursue cooking as his true vocation.
Menter’s earliest post-schooling days saw him working as a sous chef under chef/owner Danny Mena at Hecho en Dumbo, a modern Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn, where his passion for the cuisine and culture came into sharpest focus. “The chefs I worked for were so knowledgeable and passionate about real Mexican food,” he says. “It’s a big country with a deep culinary history, and they wanted more Americans to celebrate that.” Menter’s first executive chef position came in 2011 at Manhattan’s Pulqueria, where he continued his deep immersion into Mexican traditions and techniques. “It’s one of the few cuisines that’s truly balanced,” he says.
In 2014, Menter joined STARR as part of the opening kitchen team at El Vez in Battery Park, New York City. He’d later relocate to Florida to play an integral role in several of STARR’s most successful concepts in the Sunshine State, including The Continental and Upland in Miami. Now tapped as the executive chef of STARR’s fast-approaching El Vez location in Fort Lauderdale, slated for an early 2018 opening, Menter looks forward to fusing his ample experience in Mexican kitchens with the light, fresh, coastal personality so intrinsic to South Florida.