When Alberto Cabrera was young, he’d often join his parents on their visits to Cuba. They stayed at his aunt’s farm where he’d devour entire loaves of bread with butter for breakfast. And since Cubans are rather quick to appoint nicknames, the moniker ‘Pan con Mantequilla’ (or Bread and Butter) just kind of stuck.
So while some chefs can’t wait to splatter their names on the front door of a restaurant, Cabrera hopes to help define a city’s evolving palate, not just forward a personal mission.
It took the Miami native nearly two decades to reach this point, however. Having received no formal culinary education, the young Cabrera spent time on a jaunt around the US and across the pond before accepting a position at Baleen under Robbin Haas in the mid ’90s. He moved on to chef Norman Van Aken’s Norman a few years later, and received significant teachings in the techniques of alta cocina during a short stint at Sergi Arola’s La Broche.
By the time Cabrera took on the executive chef position at Karu and Y, his gastronomic IQ was worthy of numerous accolades. The restaurant’s run was short lived, however, and after its premature closure, the chef worked with Cook Restaurants, V&E Restaurant Group and STK in various capacities before running the kitchen at his first Gables spot, The Local, in 2011.
So what’s the difference this time around? Bread + Butter is entirely Cabrera’s baby – from branding and concept to the menu, and even décor oversight. Cabrera is wisely embracing his own Cuban-American roots to subvert the cult of rice and beans, a sense of conventionality that symbolically goes beyond just a culinary reference in Miami.
Cabrera aims to channel family ties with Bread + Butter, hence the black and white photographs on the wall along the entrance. And since Cubans are notoriously inclusive when delegating familial titles – any Miamian knows that saying someone is your cousin doesn’t necessarily mean blood relative – Cabrera et al. invite you to swing by and reserve your spot in the family portrait.
CHAT CHOW TV: ALBERT CABRERA / BREAD + BUTTER