The summer of 2015 was a turning point for Michael Beltran. That might sound like a bold statement for a chef who has honed his culinary chops under Miami legends like Norman Van Aken and Michael Schwartz, but it’s also only a small preview of what the future holds. “Summer ’15 will always be remembered as the summer of rogue,” says Beltran. That’s when the rambunctious and classically trained fine-dining chef decided to leave the safety of James Beard winner Schwartz’s kitchen at the formerly renowned Cypress Room to run his own.
His dream of opening a New World American restaurant that would leave its mark became a reality when Ariete debuted in January of 2016. In just under two years, Ariete has succeeded in becoming a neighborhood joint and city destination, dishing out cuisine challenging the 305’s gastronomic status quo. With Ariete, Chef Beltran has been nominated for Chef of the Year, voted Restaurant of the Year by Eater, voted Best New Restaurant by Miami New Times, is one of the Eater 38 Essential Restaurants in Miami, and was featured in Bon Appetit magazine. Besides speaking up on CNN about dishing out fritas (small Cuban burgers) in preparation for the bracing of Hurricane Irma, running his notorious PIG Inc. apparel line, and tackling industry topics on his podcast, “Pre-shift Notes,” Beltran can be seen all over town partaking in community events to raise awareness and elevate the Magic City to a national and global scale.
Born and raised in Miami, Beltran grew up in Little Havana where every night his family would gather around the table for a traditional Cuban meal—except on game nights. A football player since childhood, he attended Averett University in Virginia as a student-athlete, where he studied criminology and worked part-time as dishwasher at a chain restaurant; a job that would unknowingly act as the catalyst to his cookery. While washing plates, Beltran would observe the guests of the restaurant sharing warm moments with good company, and it was there where he understood the meaning of hospitality and he gained the desire to replicate that atmosphere at a place of his own.
Unable to keep away from the fire, he learned the ins and out of working a dining room and kitchen (from bartender to line cook) at Miami institution, Casa Juancho in Little Havana, and finagled himself an apprentice of Mango Tree Gang member and founding father of New World Cuisine, Norman Van Aken. Under Van Aken’s tutelage, Beltran was not just able to learn the foundation for fine dining—from curing charcuterie, to the use of acids to the stratification of sauces—but master proper technique and flawless execution. That perseverance and attention to detail earned him the title of Sous Chef at Tuyo’s and subsequently at Michael Schwartz’s Cypress Room where Beltran was part of the opening team, alongside Thomas Keller protégé and Chef de Cuisine Roel Alcudia.
His innumerable experience in fine dining, passion for working with seasonal and native ingredients, and dexterity in handling proteins and wild game allows Beltran to blend the highbrow and the lowbrow, to fuse the local and the global, and to bring something totally different to the table whilst ushering the next wave of Miami dining, one dish at a time