Andres Parlange, Chef de Cuisine
A native of Chiapas, Mexico, Andres Parlange has always been drawn to the aroma of good cuisine, starting with the cooking instruction his grandmother gave him when he was just four. But it was when he assisted his father with the construction of the Adobe House restaurant in Baja, Mexico, that he realized his desire to enter the diverse culinary world.
After earning his culinary degree from C.E.S.S.A Universidad, the first hospitality management education institution in Mexico, Parlange pursued an internship opportunity with The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, where he quickly rose the ranks in the pastry kitchen and in the hotel’s fine dinning Italian restaurant, Fantino. His next career opportunity took him to The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City as first cook for The Grill Room, a fine, yet then relatively unknown steakhouse. Though still young in the industry and with no Restaurant Chef in place at the time, Parlange and his fellow first cook demonstrated their true talent when they revamped the menu and culinary scene – earning the restaurant a nomination for the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award.
Parlange then went onto capture international experience at The Hotel Arts in Barcelona, and The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, where he captured the attention of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, who hired him to be her personal chef during her three-month stay for a movie shoot.
Parlange also earned experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation as Sous Chef in Linger Longer Restaurant, a steakhouse with a Southern twist; The Ritz-Carlton, Naples’ Grill Room working under the acclaimed Chef John Johnstone, one of only 66 chefs in the country to be recognized as a Certified Master Chef; and The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach as Garde Manager Chef, Banquets Chef and Restaurant Sous Chef at Bistro 1LR.
After all his travels and exposure to various cultures and their native cuisines, Parlange goes back to his roots as Chef de Cuisine at Cantina Beach, where he presents the best of regional Coastal Mexico cuisine. His new menu items capture the rustic, yet artisan essence of Mexican gastronomy and integrate traditional recipes that have been passed down for many generations. Though he incorporates the freshest ingredients and spices, Parlange claims that the true secret ingredient in all of his recipes is his passion – “what you feel is what you cook.”
Ezio Gamba, Chef de Cuisine
Italian cuisine has never been more simply beautiful than those dishes presented by Cioppino Chef de Cuisine Ezio Gamba. The Bergamo-native describes his style as classic contemporary with a twist, incorporating the finest ingredients from various exotic locales to create a menu that highlights the best of the various famed Italian gastronomic regions.
Growing up in a small farm village, Gamba expressed a culinary interest at an early age by helping his mother prepare their family meals. Even as a small child, he incorporated his own flair into experimental new recipes. When away from the kitchen, Gamba watched a lot of American TV, aspiring to one day to cross the Atlantic and work in large kitchens.
After receiving his degree from the prestigious San Pellegrino hotel school, Ezio worked at various local restaurants in the Lombardy region. At age 21, he decided to pursue his childhood dream and moved to Fresno, California to take on the American lifestyle. His talent quickly captured the attention of industry greats and by the age of 26, he moved to Nevada to take on the position of Executive Sous Chef at the renowned Valentino Las Vegas inside The Venetian Hotel. Here, he was mentored by James Beard Award-winning and fellow Bergamo-native Luciano Pelligrino. Gamba then moved to Sacramento, CA to oversee Il Fornaio, a more casual Italian restaurant chain and, in the following years, he moved back and forth from various restaurants within Il Fornaio and the Valentino restaurant in Santa Monica. In between, the charming kitchens of Bergamo would beckon him home, where he sought out the latest ideas and trends from long-standing, authentic family-owned restaurants and incorporated them into his respective positions in the U.S. Today, Gamba continues to make frequent back to Italy to further hone his craft and incorporate seasonal ingredients into an ever-changing menu that encourages his diners to expand their palates.
Elda Brouwer, Director of Social Catering
Having overseen more than 1,500 weddings, Elda Brouwer is one of Miami’s most celebrated wedding experts. From impressing a celebrity clientele, to ensuring culturally authentic weddings, to orchestrating grand entrances complete with elephants or fireworks, she has heard and conquered all.
From the moment she landed in Miami from Havana via first class on KLM flight 977 in 1962, Elda channeled her classic Cuban glamour from the opulent Old World into a successful profession stateside. She started her career traveling the world as one of Braniff Airlines famous Pucci-clad stewardesses and moved on to become a high-profile meeting planner for Warner Brothers, where she managed large events for the CEO in international locales including the Ritz Paris and the Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna. After returning to Miami with her family, she utilized her social contacts and built a lucrative career in planning the city’s most high profile events at various top hotels in the city.
Brides seek Brouwer out for her expertise in traditional, destination and culturally authentic weddings, but it is her signature touches that set her events apart from all others. “I don’t like the ordinary… it’s boring,” she says. “I love speaking with the bride and groom and coming up with new ideas that are elegant, unique and represent the couple’s personality.” Authentic Cuban cigar rollers in guayaberas, lavish Brazilian “Carnival” themed weddings (complete with dancers and more), beautiful authentic Indian traditions, and tropical outdoor weddings featuring exotic animals, lush tropical flowers and island-style music are just a few of the distinctive scenes she has created.
Despite her continuous successes, Brouwer always looks to the next task at hand, noting “I’m only as good as my last party.”