Valerie Chang Cumpa
Chefs Fernando, Nando and Valerie Chang first came to notoriety with their Nikkei-inspired concept Itamae, which opened in 2018 in a Miami Design District food hall. Here, the Changs created dishes rooted in Peruvian-Japanese flavors and traditions while also celebrating local and seasonal ingredients. Itamae quickly became a hotspot – so much so that in early 2021 the family of chefs opened an independent courtyard restaurant at 140 NE 39 Street in the Palm Court, across from their previous location.
Chef Valerie Chang, lovingly referred to as “the boss,” grew up in Peru and moved to the United States when she was ten, where she spent her childhood watching her father Fernando cook. After a few kitchen stints of her own — including a stage at Albert Adria’s Pakta in Barcelona and some time spent working with Zahav’s James Beard Award winning chef Michael Solomonov — she began exploring her culinary roots. Chang’s cooking style developed as she explored her connection with the food of her birthplace. She quickly garnered praise as one of the city’s top young chefs, earning a 2018 Eater Young Gun nomination, two James Beard semifinalist nominations for Rising Star Chef (2019, 2020) and a nomination for Best Chef South in 2022. In 2021 Itamae made New York Times’ 2021 Restaurant List, Val garnered a StarChefs Rising Star Game Changers award as well as Itamae receiving a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2022.
At Itamae, the Changs are shining a light on Nikkei, creating some of the Magic City’s most inventive cuisine.