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Elcielo's Miami Receives First-Ever Michelin Star in Florida



El Cielo Miami and Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos Valencia, affectionately known as ‘Juanma,’ are delighted to announce that Elcielo's Miami location was awarded last night the first-ever Michelin Star in Florida, in great company with 14 other exceptional establishments. Just last year, Chef Juanma's other Elcielo location in Washington DC made history by obtaining the first star for a Colombian restaurant abroad and was just repeatedly awarded for its second year in a row a Michelin Star last month for that same location.


Combining a variety of sensory experiences with one-of-a-kind flavors and textures, Chef Juanma, has revolutionized traditional Colombian cuisine by combining his avant-garde cooking techniques with his passion for neurosciences. Having trained under world-renowned chefs including Spain’s Juan Mari Arzak, Juanma combines classical training with modern techniques, resulting in a dining experience that is in a league of its own in Miami.


On Thursday, June 9, Michelin Guide, the world’s most important and prestigious French rating guide founded in 1900 (nearly 122 years ago), for the first time ever announced its selection for awards in Florida, specifically focusing on the Miami, Orlando and Tampa region, making it a recognized global culinary hotspot.


"This is a huge deal and honor not only for our restaurant group, but the city of Miami, as Michelin typically only reviews dining rooms in cities like Paris, New York, and Singapore, which are renowned for their refined culinary scene; but now Miami is finally getting recognized as an important food scene as the city continues to flourish with international tourists and residents alike," says Chef Juanma. "I think South Florida's burgeoning culinary movement with visionary chefs and restaurateurs alike, is a true reflection of the elevated direction this city is going in from tech to finance, designer retail shops, restaurants and more. We are no longer considered just a place to party, but being taken more seriously as a desirable destination to live, work, dine and play,” he adds.


In 2015 when Chef Juanma decided to open his first-ever U.S. location of Elcielo in Miami, he knew this city was special and a true blend of all Hispanic and Latin cultures who’d appreciate his innovative twist on Colombian cuisine, as well as international tourists and Americans alike. “Our creative team has worked so hard to execute some of the most distinct sensory experiences and dishes using neurosciences, and we are thrilled to be recognized this year and awarded our first-ever Michelin Star for this location and in the state of Florida," Chef Juanma adds.


Located at 31 SE 5th Street, Elcielo overlooks the Miami River at the confluence of downtown Miami and Brickell, creating a one-of-a-kind dining atmosphere. A stunning open kitchen greets diners as they enter Elcielo (translated from Spanish as ‘Heaven’); offering a chance to see an international team creating Barrientos’ unique vision. Passing through to the main dining room, a fully stocked wine cellar complements the illuminated bar, from which signature cocktails are created to accompany each menu. Elcielo’s menu changes every season with innovative new dishes that are a tribute to Colombian cuisine. Chef Juanma and the restaurant’s expert hospitality team strive to create a distinct and carefully crafted journey that taps into all five of your senses. The food and ambiance will transport you to the beautiful beaches of Cartagena and the mysterious corners of the Amazon jungle. THE EXPERIENCE, a 21-course artful menu boasts surprising sensory moments throughout the course of the night. It is priced at $197 per person and is served in the restaurant’s great hall section. The bar also features many of its signature and innovative Colombian cocktails.


Designed by Chef Juanma and his family, the intimate 45-seat dining room combines elements that represent the Colombian soul – the same essence present in the Elcielo restaurants of Washington DC, Bogotá and Medellín – along with tropical elements of coastal Miami. Bathed in a variety of textures, the dining room features handmade furniture crafted from imported Colombian wood and leather, as well as decor that recalls the various travels through which Barrientos has honed his craft.


According to The Miami Herald here, Miami emerged with 10 one-star restaurants and one with a two-star rating. Reviewers, called inspectors, eat at restaurants around the world and go to great lengths to remain anonymous. The inspectors judge the restaurants on five main criteria, he said, regardless of where they are: quality of the product; each dish’s “harmony of flavor”; mastery of cooking techniques; personality of the chef; and consistency between visits (if one inspector has a great meal and another doesn’t, that’s taken into consideration). No three-star restaurants were named in Florida. Only 13 U.S. restaurants have been awarded three stars: six in California, five in New York and one each in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Visit Florida, the state tourism and marketing agency, and local tourism agencies in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa are paying the Michelin Guide an estimated $1.5 million over the next three years to rate Florida’s restaurants. The restaurants will be listed in a printed guide that Michelin sells and puts online.


William Hereford Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said he expects to see more starred restaurants in Miami in the years to come. The guide is “open-minded,” he said, and has no quota or a set number of stars that must be given (or withheld). “We’re always working,” he said. “We have inspectors constantly in the field. It’s a great beginning. Miami will be recognized as a global culinary hot spot.”

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of El Cielo Miami

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