Michelle Bernstein's Last Supper
Michelle Bernstein is a Miami-based chef known for Latin-style of cooking that honors her South American heritage. Growing up Michelle wanted to be a ballerina, but after cooking school and training under Jean-Louis Palladin and Eric Ripert, she abandoned dance and headed for the kitchen. Now she’s a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef with two Miami-based restaurants, Michy's and SRA. Martinez. She also sits on the chef advisory board of Common Threads, a program that educates children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being.
What would be your last meal on earth?
My last meal on earth would have to be a long, drawn-out, and delectable multicourse feast. I would want the people who created the favorite dishes of my life to prepare miniature versions for me. Since this is the grand finale, I'd want to slow down and taste every morsel. I tend to get excited and eat too quickly (as chefs learn to do out of necessity), but for this meal, I'd want to savor every bite. I would have a dozen perfect, chilled oysters — six Island Creek and six Kumamoto, both with lemon — followed by a tin of golden osetra caviar atop crème frâiche and my mom's potato pancakes. I'd have asparagus served just how I ate it in a tapas restaurant in San Sebastián, Spain: fat and earthy, room-temperature, and topped with a frothy garlic and lemon aioli — absolutely perfect. And sorry animal activists, but this is my dream meal, so next would be braised foie gras from Alain Ducasse, like I ate at his restaurant in Monaco, topped with a ton of fresh shaved summer truffles and duck jus. Then Gary Danko's poached lobster. I don't know whether it was eating it alongside my husband and being in utter ecstasy, or just the lobster itself, but it was damn good! I would definitely have some of my momma's amazing lasagna, just a little tiny piece, which she layers with an awesome Bolognese filled with spicy sausage and creamy béchamel, and reggiano and pecorino cheese. It's been my birthday favorite ever since I can remember. And perhaps it's mundane, but it's my dream — a slice of steak from Peter Luger's! Sushi from Masa would cleanse my palate and make me feel so uplifted, and since this is my last supper, who cares about the money! Last, but not least , a virtual carousel of pastries — amazing Miami pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith's interpretation of a s'more; Mom's upside-down pear cake; macaroons from Fauchon; anything made by Pierre Herme but hopefully something with chocolate; some Joe's Stone Crab key lime pie; and finally, some of my own banana cream pie.
What would be the setting for the meal?
I think the best place would be at home, not at the dining room table or anything, but just lounging about as if we were in Morocco, on pillows, comfortable and relaxed.
What would you drink with your meal?
It depends on the course, but I'd like to include champagne, beer, and a chewy red wine.
Would there be music?
Definitely, but I'm afraid that I would jump up and down and spin around too much if it were live, so I think it would have to be recorded. I love Maná, U2, Sting, and anything Cole Porter.
Who would be your dining companions?
My husband, my close family, and my in-laws.
Who would prepare the meal?
The chefs above — oh, and Mom! But Mom would have to make sure she was done cooking her part way before the meal began because I'd want her to sit and enjoy the whole dinner!