Is your mom a great home cook? If she is, consider yourself lucky. “My mom despised spending hours in the kitchen,” reveals Cindy Hutson, who owns Zest and Ortanique on the Mile. Yet, the award-winning chef went on to become one of Miami’s most celebrated culinary talents. In honor of Mother’s Day, we sat down with Hutson, as well as Sarsaparilla Club’s Janine Booth and Bird & Bone’s Jenny Hales, to chat all things cooking and motherhood.
How did your mother influence you as a chef?
Janine: “My mum cooks with simplicity, but her repertoire is filled with amazing classics! They are all now part of my repertoire and some of her dishes provide inspiration for menu items at each of [Jeff McInnis’s and my] restaurants.” (McInnis and Booth own NYC’s Root & Bone and forthcoming restaurant Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour.)
Jenny: “My mom’s and grandmother’s chocolate addiction rubbed off on me. Growing up, there was never a time when there wasn't some form of chocolate in my house (usually stashed so that it wasn't eaten within minutes). This was a huge influence on me in my baking journey. Baking all started from my love of sweets—but especially chocolate.”
Cindy: “I know most people are inspired by their moms or grandmas in the kitchen, but my experience was the complete opposite. My mom despised spending hours in the kitchen. I started cooking after watching the Galloping Gourmet and Chef Tell on TV. Growing up in New Jersey, we had amazing produce and I preferred eating healthy and fresh, compared to the Green Giant Niblet corn she boiled in a bag and emptied into a bowl.”
Are any of the dishes on your menu inspired by something your mom cooked growing up?
Janine: "My mum makes an amazing sponge cake, which we put on the menu during strawberry season. My favorite salad of hers is a layered salad—it is very old school but we just love it! It has layers of iceberg lettuce, cheese, egg, bacon, mushroom, green peas, a mayo-sour-cream mix and scallions. It's straight out of the ’80s but so tasty!"
Jenny: “The chocolate bourbon cake on the menu at Bird & Bone is an homage to a cake I made for my mom when I was 12 years old. She had a brand new bottle of Kahlua with a recipe for chocolate Kahlua cake on the box. I still remember making this cake and my mom's reaction of pleasure when trying it.”
Cindy: “I've served [my mom’s] Ritz cracker pie with Chantilly cream. People actually loved it!”
You three are also moms. What’s your favorite thing to do with kids locally?
Janine: "We are a huge water-loving family: We love to swim in our pool, go paddle-boarding on our canal and go to Haulover Beach!"
Jenny: “Our daughters beg to go to Butterfly World [in Coconut Creek]. My oldest especially is an animal lover like me, but the little one is scared of big animals, so this place is a perfect balance. We always come home with a bag of 1,500 ladybugs to release in our yard.”
Cindy: “Any chance we get to go boating or fishing together is a blast!”
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