Chef Veronica Valdivia
Miami runs through Veronica Valdivia’s veins, having been both born and raised there. Brought up by both an American parent and a Cuban one, she always had one foot in Cuban cooking and the other one in the Southern Cuisine. Her passion for cooking begun at a very early age watching her mother and Aunt prepare beautiful holiday feasts that the whole family looked forward to all year. She began her restaurant career at the age of 16, starting as a hostess. Although she began in the front of house, her intention was always to make her way to the kitchen. She began knocking on kitchen doors at the age of 17 to inquire about a kitchen job and after years of slammed doors and rejections, she received the apprenticeship she had been after.
Her cooking career began at Red Fish Grill under the charge of Chef Romel Meza and Chef Michael Beltran. Under the watchful eye of Chef Beltran, she was taught everything from how to hold a knife to how the follow a recipe and work the line. After a time there, Valdivia followed her mentor, Beltran, to meet another mentor, working for Chef Norman van Aken at his Coral Gables restaurant: Norman’s 180. It was there that she learned how to work and maneuver in a fine dining atmosphere. Chef Norman’s food opened her up to a whole new world of food using ingredients that she had grown up with in new and exciting ways. And it was at Norman’s 180 that she was introduced to her other mentor, Chef Phil Bryant.
She went on to follow Chef Bryant at restaurants like Yardbird Southern Table and Tap, and The Local Craft Food and Drink. Later acting as the Local’s Director of Operations, she is now part owner of The Local Craft Food and Drink, as well as, partners with Chef Phil Bryant in their small restaurant group and private consulting firm, Heirloom Hospitality Group. She has spent the last couple of years dedicating all of her free time to learning the science behind some old preservation techniques that had always intrigued her. When Valdivia is not working, she can be seen making vinegars, curing, processing and canning the season’s finest to build their ever-growing larder at the restaurant, & making bitters from that larder for The Local’s bar program