Location: Miami Beach
Why He's Amazing: Because he's revitalizing Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour neighborhood with this boisterous, Asian-inspired gastropub.
Culinary School: Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)
Background: Mercadito, Nobu, Veranda (Miami); SushiSamba (Las Vegas)
Quintessential Dish: Ramen in lemongrass and miso broth with poached egg and barbecued pork belly
Expanding the Empire: In late 2011, Mendin and partners Sergio Navarro and Andreas Schreiner opened Pubbelly Sushi, followed by Barceloneta (two locations) and Macchialina in 2012. Early 2013 brought PB Steak; scheduled to open in early 2014: L'Echon Brasserie, at the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach.
How He Got into the Food Business: He still has a frayed cookbook that belonged to his grandmother, a professional cook, but he wasn't always keen on following in her footsteps: "Before I decided to become a chef, I never cooked [a day] in my life. My parents took me out to dinner every Sunday. My dad would look at the new restaurant reviews in the Puerto Rican newspaper, and we would go all over the island to try these places."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.