Talented beyond his years, 39-year-old Samuel Gorenstein has impressed colleagues, critics, and fans alike throughout his impressive and ever-growing culinary career. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia with Syrian heritage, Gorenstein’s passion for cooking first ignited in his mother’s kitchen as a young child. After moving to Miami with his family at the age of 14, Gorenstein went on to spend most of his free time at home in the kitchen, learning and practicing. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled in Johnson & Wales University to pursue his longtime dream of becoming a chef.
With a humble beginning at Les Halles in Coral Gables, Fla., when he was just a teenager, Sam received the opportunity to move to New York, where he soon made his way into world-renowned chef, Laurent Tourondel’s kitchen at Union Pacific. Learning everything he could from such an esteemed chef, Sam honed his skills in the kitchen, and Tourondel granted Sam the opportunity to make the move to BLT Fish in New York City. While at BLT Fish, Sam worked at every station in the kitchen, earning titles from entremetier to poissonier. The latter is what fielded his passion for seafood. Shortly after opening, BLT Fish earned a three-star review from The New York Times in addition to a Michelin star.
Sam moved back to Miami when other opportunities arose and received even further experience in well-known kitchens, including those at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. Chef Tourondel contacted Sam once more and asked if Sam would open BLT Steak at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach. Here is where Sam received the greatest experience as chef de cuisine as he managed a staff of over 80 people. The Miami Herald gave BLT Steak three-and-a-half stars while Sam was at the helm. In addition, the James Beard Foundation recognized Sam’s incomparable culinary expertise, twice nominating him as a “Rising Star Chef”. In addition, he was recognized as a top chef in the 2011 publication of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” list.
In 2012, Gorenstein co-founded My Ceviche, an innovative take on fast casual dining serving wild-caught seafood in the form of ceviche, salads, tacos, burritos and stone crabs all in a fast casual environment. Shortly after, the young chef later moved on to work alongside Michael Schwartz once again for a brief stint at the Raleigh Hotel as executive chef, departing shortly thereafter to focus all of his attention on My Ceviche. In this time, Poder Magazine, named him a “Top 5 Latino Chef” alongside big names such as José Andrés.
In November 2014, Sam also became the first winner of Food Network’s culinary competition show Kitchen Inferno beating four other competitors, including celebrity chef Curtis Stone. In 2016 Sam also made an appearance on the Food Network’s show Beat Bobby Flay beating Chef Flay in the ultimate showdown.
An early adopter of the fast casual business model, he also co-founded Zuuk Mediterranean Kitchen where he was able to explore working with his native, middle eastern cuisine is quick-paced environment.
Today, Gorenstein along with partner Omer Horev, founder of Pura Vida Miami, opened Abbale Telavivian Kitchen in a small, converted bungalow in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood. Abbale brings the flavors and spices of Tel Aviv to Miami.