■ BY SUE ERWIN
South Beach Executive Chef Mimi Carvalho can’t make her way from the kitchen through the dining area without being stopped for a quick hello and hug from patrons dining in the establishment.
Many know her from the 10-plus years she worked as executive chef at the Coral Creek Club, just off island in Placida. She worked there from 2007 to 2017.
After having a baby girl, Miah, one year ago, Mimi realized she needed to cut back her hours.
She was averaging six days at the Coral Creek Club. Mimi also has a 3-year-old at home, Marcos, and a 16-year-old, Eva.
“Bart and Marco (owners of South Beach) were thoughtful enough to offer me a position where I could work five days a week, so this is a very good match,” she said.
Mimi started the new position last June.
During season, she overseas a staff of about 20 kitchen employees at South Beach.
Mimi was born and raised in France and moved to the United States when she was 25.
She has been a chef for many years. She worked at restaurants in Sarasota and Englewood before coming to this area.
Mimi has recently added a traditional French dish, pot-au-feu, which is the most celebrated dish in France, to the menu at South Beach.
Traditionally it is a French beef stew, but Mimi has incorporated different variations of it, like converting it into a seafood stew with vegetables.
She said a popular new item on the menu is the margarita crab, which is a delicious combination of fresh crab served in a margarita glass with fried plantains and fresh lime.
Part of her job is ordering the goods for the kitchen. She chooses to use local vendors whenever possible.
“I love food – I love creating, and I was always obsessed with mixing different things together to invent new tastes,” she said. “And I enjoy making something people don’t see every day.”
She said her biggest compliment is to see the surprised smiles on the customers’ faces when they taste one of her original items.
“My goal is to offer high-quality food on a consistent basis, and to offer a variety of choices for the customer.”
Lunch and dinner specials are offered daily.
South Beach Bar and Grille is located at 760 Gulf Blvd. in Boca Grande.