Steve Santana is a web developer-turned-chef-and-artisan thanks to a fateful encounter with Gastropod and celebrity Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog in 2009. Santana’s then-firm hosted the first installation of Miami’s Cobaya underground dining club, for which Bullfrog was the featured chef. Having struck up a friendship, Bullfrog took Santana to StarChefs’ International Chefs Congress, and the coder found himself falling for the world of cuisine. Three years later, Santana gave up everything he knew and worked towards for the past 12 years, and shifted gears to follow his heart into the kitchen.
Alongside Bullfrog, he cooked at Gastropod, followed by The Freehand’s Broken Shaker. He then joined Chopped winner and Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s dynamic team at Eating House in Coral Gables. Before long, Santana was known more for his cooking prowess than his computer skills, and he was approached by his now-business partner John Burnett to craft an authentic, fast-casual Mexican street fare concept in Miami Beach.
After extensive research and development, self-education, and happy accidents, Taquiza was born in November 2014. USDA organic, non-GMO blue corn is ground and nixtamalized in-house daily, then used for Taquiza’s one-of-a-kind homemade, gluten-free tortillas and chips (“Totopos”). Beyond supplying Taquiza, Santana sells his tortillas wholesale to other restaurants, a strategy that continuously spreads the gospel of fresh masa, enabling Santana to expand his business. He’s a leader in Miami’s fledgling artisan community with two fast-casual, counter-style Taquiza restaurants. With more Taquiza taquerias on the horizon, as well as OFFSITE, a nano-brewery/restaurant conceptualized by Santana and close friend Adam Darnell, Santana continues to make his mark on the culinary map.
Santana’s impressive list of accolades includes being named a “StarChefs South Florida Rising Star Artisan” and Ocean Drive Magazine “Tastemaker.” Santana has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri and Travel Channel’s The Zimmern List with Andrew Zimmern. Santana has also been published in Nixtamal: A Guide to Masa Preparation in the United States.
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