Meet the judges:
Arbetter Hot Dogs
My Dad would wake up every morning at five and drive downtown to buy the fresh vegetables, hot dogs, buns, and anything else he would need in order to serve people at his beloved restaurant, Arbetter Hot Dogs. It was a dream of his to open a hot dog stand ever since his father, Doctor Joseph Arbetter, used to take him after school, in Saugus, Massachusetts, to watch the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park. They would always stop on the way, at the venerable, “Joe & Nemo’s” hot dog stand right down the road from Fenway. “Joe &Nemo’s” was almost as legendary as Ted Williams, my Dad’s favorite player. It was established in 1909. He loved the simplicity of the place. He was amazed at how everyone seemed to know each other and how the steam rose out of the steam tables when they grabbed the soft, hot buns, in order to combine them with the boiled hot dogs. My Dad’s favorite dog to order at “Joe & Nemo’s” was the “all-around”. That was a hot dog topped with fresh mustard, onion, and relish. Back then, in Boston, they would hide the relish under the dog. Of course, years later, at Arbetter’s in Miami, you could order it that way if you said, “Bob, gimme an all-around Joe & Nemo’s style.” In any case, my Dad’s life-long ambition was to run a successful hot dog restaurant.
Arbetter Hot Dogs was born out of the love of making people happy. My parents loved to serve great, fresh food. They also loved people. My parents always told us to work hard, be honest, and treat your customers like gold. Those three principles are the foundation upon which Arbetter’s was built. This business has been in our family for over fifty-seven years. We are proud of that.
Arbetter’s is all about family. We are a family run enterprise. We have my sister Jill, my nephews, Andrew and Casey, my wife Patty, my son’s Lil’ Dave, Austin and Charles. Our extended family includes Celeste, Jeremy, Joe, Ernie, John and Cousin Toltz. Together, we plan on working hard, loving our customers, and serving great fresh food. Our goal is to have one hundred thriving Arbetter’s restaurants open around our incredible country over the next five years.
Managing Partner, Seasons 52, Coral Gables
Fernando Orms was born in Lima, Peru but has lived in Miami most of his life. He attended Duke University where he graduated with a degree in mathematics. Later he studied at the University of Florida where he attained a degree in industrial engineering. It was, however, during his college years that Fernando fell in love with the hospitality industry – as he worked in restaurants to pay for his school. The end result has been a 30-year career in the hospitality industry culminating in his Managing Partner position at Seasons 52. Besides his culinary experience, he is a certified Level 1 Sommelier. He has been at Seasons 52 Coral Gables for over 5 years, and has a true passion for the food he serves and the guests he takes care of. His hobbies include tennis, travel, and of course cooking.
Founder Sergio’s Restaurants
Blanca Cabrera is the Founder of Sergio’s Restaurants located in South Florida. Her family fled Communist Cuba in 1969 and settled in Miami .
Sergio’s started as a sandwich shop with just ten employees and now after 30 years has grown to over 650 employees. Sergio’s serves authentic Cuban food inspired by today’s culinary ideas to bring the best of two worlds. Always using fresh ingredients and treating every customer like family.
Blanca has twin sons Luis and Carlos and is a Grandmother of four.
Blanca has passed the presidency to Carlos, which has freed up her time for other endeavors. She presently serves as a Director on The National restaurant Association Board.
Chef Chris Valdes
Food Network Star
A finalist on this season’s Food Network Star, native Miamian, Chef Chris Valdes has created a delectable and fun approach to the kitchen. Valdes fuses Caribbean flavors with modern influences to create thought provoking dishes that are easy to make.
Chef Chris’ relentless drive to share his innovative recipes led him to dabble in creating YouTube videos and star in his very own series, Cooking With Chris – now in its 3rd season. The Chef has a gifted palate and a unique ability to create amazing dishes.
However, life wasn’t always easy for the Miami self-made celebrity Chef. Growing up without his parents, who lost their home and family restaurant when he was only 6 years old, Valdes had a rocky start. However, his passion for the culinary arts, coupled with his enthusiasm and hard work over the years earned him a scholarship to attend the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. After graduation, Valdes decided to rule out law school and create his very own catering company Best Chefs Catering. From there it has only gone uphill. The young chef has accomplished feats that any successful seasoned chef would call impressive at his age. In addition to his successful YouTube Channel Cooking with Chris, he has been featured on the covers of several magazines, and in local newspapers in Miami and most recently was a finalist on Food Network Star and Star Salvation. He was also chosen to participate in the First Annual Mango Fest on South Beach as a featured chef on the kitchen stage.
Valdes has made an impact in the local Miami community by championing many philanthropic causes including the American Liver Foundation and Chapman Partnership for the homeless. He also visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma to aid in the disaster relief effort by bringing toys to the children at area hospitals.
“Giving back to the community is very important to me and what I do”, says Chef Chris. “There’s a special feeling, an inner fulfillment, when you do good and give back. Simply priceless. Giving helps you maintain a humble state of mind. We should share with others.”