Q and A with Nathalia Arja



The MBVCA sat down with Nathalia Arja, Principal Soloist for the Miami City Ballet, to discuss her love of Miami Beach and how she became a ballerina. The Miami City Ballet is located at 2200 Liberty Ave, Miami Beach. Make the Miami City Ballet a holiday treat for the whole family, as they present George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® starting on Dec. 9. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.miamicityballet.org/subscribe


What inspired you to become a ballet dancer? 


I remember sitting next to my mother as a little kid, while she was teaching her dancers. What inspired my desire to dance was seeing their high energy and joy while executing really hard steps. I was fascinated by moving and what I felt watching them. 


Why did you choose to perform in Miami Beach? 


Well, when I was 15 I sent an audition DVD to the Miami City Ballet school. They offered me a full scholarship to study in the school. Most students hope to one day join the company. In 2009, I was chosen by the artistic director to join the company as an apprentice. 


What do you love most about being in Miami Beach? 


I have to say that Miami City Ballet is a lucky company because we are literally across the street from the beach. I love that on my break I can just go enjoy the ocean and relax. But my most favorite thing about South Beach is that you can just about walk anywhere as everything is close by. There are some very cozy neighborhoods. 


What can Miami Beach expect with the new season? 


Every season is exciting because our repertory is so diverse and this season is no different. We go from Giselle, which is a historic classic in the ballet world, and end up with the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s, The Fairy’s Kiss. Of course you will be seeing great Balanchine ballets as well, so you’ll see a little bit of everything! We also have the open barre series, which is specifically built for arts education in Miami Beach. It’s a program we do only in Miami Beach twice a year at our intimate studio theatre, in which we have guest artists discuss their work while we perform short excerpts relevant to the upcoming programs. It’s definitely a great show for the community and a chance for them to see the dancers up close! 




What makes the Miami City Ballet a unique company? 


Miami City Ballet is unique because it is a medium-large company that despite its size of 50 dancers, remains very united when it comes to support and emphasis on the success of the company rather than the individual. Ever since its inception, this has been at the heart of the company’s message: to have one soul made of a diverse roster of dancers, together under one banner for the sake of producing the art of the dance for the community at both a national and international level. 


Miami Beach is known for its art scene, would you agree that performing arts and ballet are becoming more popular in our city?


It’s been so refreshing over the years. I’ve watched the art scene grow and become more diverse. It’s an honor to be a part of the Miami City Ballet which I feel is very important  for the Miami Beach art scene. I’m so proud of that!



Q&A with Rachel Loebs

SoulCycle Miami Beach – 1 Hotel & Homes


The MBVCA sat down with Rachel Loebs, instructor at SoulCycle South Beach to discuss why she loves Miami Beach and why SoulCycle is a workout like no other. See what she has to say and check out SoulCycle at 1 Hotel South Beach, 2325 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139.



Describe your experience at Soul Cycle thus far. How is teaching in Miami Beach different from New York City?


New York City was different because I came into SoulCycle and it was already established. People knew the culture, how to ride, and what they wanted out of class when I started teaching. Everyone has somewhere to be, or rushed to get back to work, so people take fitness and time VERY seriously. Miami Beach is more relaxed and easy going. A lot of people are on vacation. We are still introducing the life style down here which is an amazing thing to share with the community. I feel like I am a forever student and I continue to learn something new every day! In Miami Beach, I get a lot of riders from all over the country which is amazing! I see some of my old riders from New York and Long Island and that is a super special privilege of teaching down here.


Soul Cycle has become a favorite workout class in Miami Beach… what makes Soul Cycle Miami Beach a favorite with visitors and residents? Why does the Miami Beach studio fill every class? 


It is such a special workout because it is not just a physical connection, but also a mental one. It is a 45 minute class of sweat, creation, and love. We genuinely give everything in the room (we as the riders and instructors) so we can also try to take some of the same experiences outside and apply it to our real lives. Anyone you speak with about SoulCycle will tell you their special story and connection with the ride. Having a SoulCycle in Miami Beach is so special because we get people vacationing from all over the world and they get to enjoy SoulCycle for the first time. We have a space for returning riders from other cities who already have SoulCycle. It’s a wonderful melting pot for everyone here and everyone is always in a good mood because it is Miami Beach!


Tell us about the workout. What makes a Soul Cycle unique from other cycling workout programs?


SoulCycle is a challenging work out, but everyone can take the class at their own pace. Especially here in Miami Beach, we have all different experience levels coming to class. We want every single rider to feel as though they are right where they need to be and feel accomplished when you cross that finish line. SoulCycle always makes you feel as though you can succeed at anything. We use our entire bodies while dancing to the most amazing music.



How do you find inspiration for creating new and exciting content for your classes? Does Miami Beach’s Latin culture inspire your programming?


Of COURSE! I love listening to music out at restaurants and bars, always asking my riders for their favorite music. Miami Beach has the best music culture!


Do you expect Soul Cycle to grow within Miami Beach? What can we expect next?


I sure do hope so! Its all about when the timing is right. Stay tuned!!!


Lastly, why do you LOVE Miami Beach?


I LOVE the weather. It is summer all year long. People know how to have a good time, unwind and relax. It is very different from New York. Also, the Cuban food is fantastic!

Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority named North America’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards

The MBVCA was chosen by over 600,000 industry voters


Miami Beach, FL – October 12, 2016The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) has been named North America’s Leading Tourist Board in the 2016 edition of the prestigious World Travel Awards. Competing against other top destinations including Arizona Office of Tourism, Destination DC, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, NYC & Company, Visit California, Visit Orlando and VisitFlorida. Miami Beach was chosen by over 600,000 industry voters.


Accepting the award on behalf of the MBVCA at the World Travel Awards Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony, Peggy Benua, Chair of the MBVCA, says, “The board has worked really hard to leverage Miami Beach’s beauty and unique offerings. The Board developed a compelling strategic gameplan to inspire the world to experience Miami Beach’s 7 miles of exquisite beaches, luxury hotels, five star restaurants, cultural institutions and entertaining events. Our messaging certainly has resonated globally.”


The MBVCA will now be competing against other global winners including the Auckland Tourism, Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cape Town Tourism, Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administrative Commission, and Visit London, for the title of World’s Leading Tourist Board. The world winners will be announced at the Grand Final Gala Ceremony on December 2, 2016 in the Maldives.


“Over and over again Miami Beach has been recognized by the travel community and our peers for this amazing destination,” notes Grisette Roque, Executive Director, MBVCA. “This award is the culmination of a stellar few years of honors and accolades including first place in the 2016 edition of the Travvy Awards, in the category of “Best Wedding Destination, U.S. & Canada” and a winner in the 2014 and 2015 Magellan Awards by Travel Weekly in the categories of “Destinations | Mobile App” and “Overall Spa Destinations|U.S and Canada. The MBVCA Board has successfully positioned Miami Beach as a top-tier, luxurious, sophisticated and cosmopolitan travel destination.”


The MBVCA Board continues to grow the Miami Beach brand and position the city as a pioneer in the travel industry with several initiatives in the works including launching the Miami Beach API and app. The Board is also dedicated to continuing to work with its partners to successfully market the destination as “Like No Other Place in the World.”


About Miami Beach

Recently named 2016 North America’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards and first place in the 2016 edition of the Travvy Awards, presented by travAlliancemedia in the category of “Best Wedding Destination, U.S. & Canada” and a winner in the 2014 and 2015 Magellan Awards by Travel Weekly in the categories of “Destinations | Mobile App” and “Overall Spa Destinations| U.S and Canada” respectively, Miami Beach is a favorite destination among travelers worldwide. Renowned for its unparalleled culinary offerings, extravagant nightlife, rich culture, luxe shopping and plush hotels, Miami Beach is home to unique museums, the New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Miami Beach Convention Center, international festivals and art exhibitions, boat and auto shows, over 187 boutique and resort hotels and 12 public parks; it is no wonder the beautifully diverse city is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Boasting seven miles of breathtaking beaches, Miami Beach is easily accessible from the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport. The City of Miami Beach has been named one of the top cities worldwide for ‘walkability’ and is equally easy to navigate by bike or boat.  Known for its year-round sunny skies, the vibrant destination not only produces its own branded sun care line, MB Miami Beach Suncare, but has been ranked by TripAdvisor as number one in 2011’s Top Winter Sun Vacation Rental Getaway Destinations and was also part of Top 25 Beaches in the World and Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. Miami Beach is like no other place in the world!


Visit MiamiBeachGuest.com for more information. You may also contact Grisette Roque at  Groquemarcos@miamibeachvca.com.


Daniel Sacerio, H+K Strategies  dsacerio@samcor.net 305.443.5454

About the World Travel Awards

World Travel Awards™ was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel tourism & hospitality industry. Today, the World Travel Awards™ brand is recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting  the  benchmark  to  which  all  others  aspire.  The World Travel Awards™ exists to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate excellence in travel tourism and hospitality, which is why your company was chosen by fellow professionals across the globe for a World Travel Award™.


Q&A with Chef Juan Loaisiga


The Traymore Restaurant and Bar at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach

The MBVCA sat down with Chef Juan Loaisiga, chef The Traymore to discuss why he loves Miami Beach and what it is like being a chef in the city. See what he has to say and check out his restaurant, Traymore Restaurant at 2445 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.


What did it take to make the Traymore one of the most highly-acclaimed restaurants in Miami Beach?

We feel The Traymore Restaurant and Bar has always been one of the most approachable and relaxed dining experiences in South Florida. We pride ourselves on not being the typical South Beach “see-and-be-seen” establishment, but more of a place you can speak with the person you’re with and be heard without having to talk over thumping music. The Traymore is a soothing place to dine that has an air of sophistication and romance.  Our cuisine compliments this ideology rather well and has been the driving force behind the restaurant’s popularity.


The Traymore has been referred to as “not your typical Miami Beach restaurant.” What would you say makes it different?

The relaxed environment and clientele we attract is what sets The Traymore apart.  Our hotel guests are always a priority, but locals also love our intimate setting and unpretentious service that has a traditional approach.  We don’t set aside private tables for celebrities, bring out sparkling bottles of champagne or turn up the electronic music after 11pm.  ‘Silent Luxury’ is the message we like to abide by for the property and The Traymore reflects COMO Hotels’ wellness philosophy that can be enjoyed through our COMO Shambhala cuisine, Gin Bar and wellness juices for example.


How do you find inspiration for new flavors to incorporate into your dishes?

Miami has such cultural diversity that always gives me inspiration for new flavors and ingredients.  Trying new ideas from other cities or simply stumbling across an unusual herb at a market can spark creativity.  I’m always looking for new ways to be inspired, whether it’s during my travels or when hearing stories from family and friends about new and exotic places they’ve discovered.  The newly published COMO Shambhala cookbook with a worldly array of recipes and techniques also gives me some great inspiration.  I keep it next to me when I’m in the kitchen at home and at work.



How does working in Miami Beach compare to where you’ve worked previously?

Miami runs at a far higher pace than most people imagine. Restaurants in Miami like to have a high turnover every evening that often makes people feel uncomfortable, as though they are being rushed to make way for the next group of guests.  We like to adopt a far more relaxed and friendly approach, whereby no table is ever encouraged to leave when they’ve finished eating and we don’t bring the check to the table until it’s requested.  This is how restaurants operate in the most sophisticated cities and this is how we like to treat our guests as well – with utmost respect.


What dishes, or flavors, resemble the energy of Miami Beach the most?

Our seafood plates reflect the coastal energy of Miami Beach.  From the Octopus and fish to our fragrant Seafood Stew – we live in a beach town and therefore the produce caught in Florida’s waters is primarily what can be found on our menu.  I enjoy bringing a contemporary layer of flavor, and sometimes even spice, through the herbs and seasonings added to both the seafood and meat dishes that we offer.  Some of our dishes are also special additions or can be found on certain days of the week, so that we are always fresh.  Some of our small plates also resemble the energy of Miami Beach and we have also been known to collaborate with our resident mixologist at The Traymore Gin Bar to offer “Gin inspired” appetizers in the past, such as Ceviches from around the world, and even gin-infused sorbet.



Why is it important for your food to be locally sourced?

We offer the best seasonal products from local farmers. We are committed to supporting our local economy as we showcase the finest crops our Florida land produces and the fresh fish our oceans bless us with.  The menu at the Traymore is focused on showcasing fresh, seasonal ingredients from Florida and other regions of the United States. We buy as much local and organic produces and products as possible. Our focus on local ingredients stems from our dedication to sustainability, giving back to our surrounding community and providing only meals of the highest standards to our guests.  We like to showcase ‘excellence’ from the region, from the seafood in Florida’s waters to the fruit and vegetables grown by Paradise Farm in South Miami’s Homestead area.


Our fish, shellfish and crustaceans are sourced from small-scale, reliable, sustainable 

fisheries from Florida and around the United States. We receive our fish in less than 24 hours from the time it was caught. Then, we are able to skillfully prepare it and serve it with pride.


How would you describe the experience of eating at the Traymore on Miami Beach?

The Traymore Hotel which reopened as the COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach in March

of 2014 was originally designed and built in 1939 by leading Art Deco architect Albert Anis

(1889-1964), the “father” of Streamline Art Deco. The hotel’s fortunate location between Lake Pancoast on the West and the Atlantic Ocean on the East granted almost every room a water view;1940’s postcards from the hotel describe a “Private Beach and Cabana Club”, still present 

today, as well as a “Continental Dining Room” and “Blue Angel Cocktail Lounge” both of

which have been redesigned by Paola Navone as our own Traymore Restaurant and Bar.  I would describe the experience at The Traymore as calm, rejuvenating and with every attention to detail taken care of. 



Any unique dishes for Miami Spice?

Our Miami Spice lunch menu features Swordfish with garden vegetable ribbons, toasted pine nuts and Florida citrus, and the Steamed Mussels with bouillabaisse and prawn chips.  For our dinner menu, I’m particularly keen on the Trout with baby bok choy and yellow tomato coulis, the Squid Ink Linguine with seafood sausage and the Soft Shell Crab with savory corn bread cake and aji Amarillo aioli.


What do you have up your sleeve for the fall and winter menus at the Traymore?

We’re going to have a very down-to-earth menu for the new Fall and Winter season ahead.  I’ve decided to introduce some root vegetables to the menu, mushroom inspired dishes, some additional lamb and chicken plates, while bringing an array of interesting smoky flavors to the way we cook and prepare our fish dishes.




About Juan Loaisiga


Juan Loaisiga, 30, was born in Nicaragua and moved with his family to Miami, Florida in 1992.  Juan always aspired to be a chef during his teenage years, after helping his Mother with their family restaurant in

Nicaragua.  She became a lifelong inspiration for his work in the kitchen.


After graduating from Miami Senior High, Juan took his diploma at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Miami, where he started his formal training as a chef in 2008.  His first job took him to Grove Isle in Coconut Grove at Gibraltar – a restaurant specializing in seafood, a cuisine that would soon became his specialty.  Over a three and a half year period, Juan became a line cook shortly after proving his capabilities as an intern.


A friend studying at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University saw an attractive job opening for Juan and notified him of the opportunity.  In January 2014, Juan became a line cook under Executive Chef Jonathan Lane at the newly opened hotel, COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach, the inaugural U.S. property by COMO Hotels and Resorts.  Juan joined the team for what was to become a world class seafood destination at the hotel – The Traymore Restaurant and Bar.  Under the tutelage of Chef Jonathan, Chef Juan honed his skills to develop an expertise in locally sourced seafood fare to the delight of repeat restaurant patrons.  Chef Juan progressed to become Junior Sous Chef for a year, before becoming the restaurant’s Sous Chef.  Six months later, Juan took over at the restaurant’s helm as Chef de Cuisine, a position in which he currently resides.


Chef Juan enjoys the locally produced seafood ingredients harvested from the Florida waters, while adapting to the seasonal trends and experimenting with the fresh and rich variety the market has to offer.  He admits to seafood still being his favorite cuisine by way of its “delicacy” and the precise cooking techniques he adopts for locals and visiting hotel guests.


Miami Beach Chefs Spice it up for Two Month Foodfest




Miami Beach Chefs Spice it up for Two Month Foodfest



Miami Beach, FL – August 9, 2016 – From August through the end of September, restaurants across Miami Beach will once again host the popular Miami Spice  promotion, offering three course, signature dishes by world renowned chefs to residents and visitors at super affordable prices: Lunch $23 and Dinner $39. It is one of the most anticipated times of the year, giving restaurant guests the opportunity to partake in their tried and true favorites or be a bit more adventurous and try some of the more daring and exciting meals on the menu. During Miami Spice, there is something for everyone.


“The entire city looks forward to Miami Spice,” notes Peggy Benua, Chair, the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “Chefs in this city are bold tastemakers who aren’t afraid to bring their audacious vision to the kitchen and the table with dishes like crab toast, wahoo taradito and mushroom fricassee among many others. This year, diners will have no lack of choice, flavor or portions to suit their tastes.”


It’s going to be a fun month of food as Miami Beach’s most innovative chefs roll out their inimitable and distinctive selections for discerning diners. And they’re not holding back on creativity; restaurant-goers can expect to sample a range of incredible ingredients and flavors including green hummus, garlic chimichurri, roast beets,  sage butter with sausage, braised greens with lemon-rosemary vinaigrette and Balsamic strawberries with pistachio crumble among many other savory and sweet plates.

Michael Pirolo, head chef of Miami Beach’s Macchialina says, “I am looking forward to Miami Spice this year. We’ve become known for offering all of our signature dishes [during Miami Spice] so you can look forward to more of our creamy polenta this year on our Spice menu.”

Looking to spice it up? Then check out these restaurants and their chefs as they present some of their out-of-this-world dishes during Miami Spice and check out the Miami Spice website for a full list of participating restaurants. Bon Appetit!


Located in the Collins Park area of Miami Beach, Sweet Liberty is the creation of award-winning bartenders John Lermayer and Dan Binkiewicz along with restaurateur David Martinez. Recently named the Best New American Bar at the annual Spirited Awards, this is a surefire option for world-class cocktails and creative American food.


Try the: Watermelon gazpacho appetizer, Crunchy green salad and Skirt Steak with terragon bernaise.





This playful restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck brings to life one of the most popular culinary experiences in the city. Helmed by James Beard award-Winning chef José Andrés, the bar and lounge also offer $1 oysters during weeknight oyster hour, a live DJ Tuesday to Friday nights, and happy hour specials during the week.


Try the: Tomato Heirloom salad, braised lamb shank with lemon preserve risotto and the crepes with sautéed apples flambé and rum



Top chef mentor and judge, Tom Colicchio, joined the already robust roster of celebrity chefs in Miami Beach with the opening of Beachcraft in 2015. The farm-to-table concept brings guests into an open kitchen where locally caught fish, home-made pastas, and organic ingredients are featured on the menu.


Try the: Chicken liver toast appetizer, roasted fish with braised greens and the house made donut with key lime curd and toasted meringue



Macchialina has been a local Miami Beach favorite for 4 years with its casual neighborhood vibe and bold seasonally-inspired cuisine. Chef Pirolo is the most starred chef in Miami and continues to garner praise among critics with his soulful yet sophisticated Italian fare.


Try the: Sausage ragu appetizer, the spaghetti pomodoro and the vanilla panna cotta with pistachio crumble



About Miami Beach

Recently awarded first place in the 2016 edition of the Travvy Awards, presented by travAlliancemedia in the category of “Best Wedding Destination, U.S. & Canada” and a winner in the 2014 and 2015 Magellan Awards by Travel Weekly in the categories of “Destinations | Mobile App” and “Overall Spa Destinations| U.S and Canada” respectively, Miami Beach is a favorite destination among travelers worldwide. Renowned for its unparalleled culinary offerings, extravagant nightlife, rich culture, luxe shopping and plush hotels, Miami Beach is home to unique museums, the New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Miami Beach Convention Center, international festivals and art exhibitions, boat and auto shows, over 187 boutique and resort hotels and 12 public parks; it is no wonder the beautifully diverse city is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Boasting seven miles of breathtaking beaches, Miami Beach is easily accessible from the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport. The City of Miami Beach has been named one of the top cities worldwide for ‘walkability’ and is equally easy to navigate by bike or boat.   Known for its year-round sunny skies, the vibrant destination not only produces its own branded sun care line, MB Miami Beach Suncare, but has been ranked by TripAdvisor as number one in 2011’s Top Winter Sun Vacation Rental Getaway Destinations and was also part of Top 25 Beaches in the World and Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. Miami Beach is like no other place in the world!


Visit MiamiBeachGuest.com for more information. You may also contact Grisette Roque at Groquemarcos@miamibeachvca.com.



Daniel Sacerio, H+K Strategies



A Chat with Michael Pirolo

The MBVCA sat down with Michael Pirolo, chef/owner of Macchialina to discuss why he loves Miami Beach and what it is like being a chef in the city. See what he has to say and check out his restaurant, Macchialina at 820 Alton Road, Miami Beach.

michael pirolo-1

1.     What inspired you to become a chef? What do you love most about the profession?

I grew up in a house where food was a big part of our life.  I remember growing up, I literally was not allowed to eat out at a friend’s house. Sitting around the table with my family was about more than just food. When I finally convinced my mom to let me eat out, I remember coming home afterwards and complaining to my mom about the canned tomato sauce, and the fact that everyone was eating in front of the television. In my house we would be at the table for hours talking and laughing.  Food for me is a way to bring people together and I will always associate it with that. My favorite part of my profession is that cooking is a great creative outlet for me; I am able to express myself through my cooking. The comradery you build in the kitchen, with your staff and with guests, is extremely rewarding. 

2.     Why did you choose to open a restaurant in Miami Beach?

I moved down from New York 8 years ago and it quickly became home. I fell in love with the lifestyle down here, especially working the hours we do in this industry. I bought a Vespa within a year of moving to South Beach so I could spend a few hours on the beach before going to work every day. In comparison to other cities I have lived and worked in, I felt a strong sense of community down here within the restaurant industry. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. When it came time for me to open my own restaurant, in my mind there was no other place.  

3.     What do you love most about being in Miami Beach?

Tough to pick just one thing- the diverse culture, the weather, the emerging culinary scene.  

4.     Macchialina has become a culinary institution in the city and you are now closing in on your fifth year on the Beach, a rare feat for a restaurant. What advice do you have for a chef looking to expand to Miami Beach?

As far as expanding to Miami Beach, it’s a tough market for an out-of-towner to grasp.  I would love to see more of the local talent following their dream and opening their own restaurants here on the beach.  We have a lot of great transplant restaurants here, now it’s time to further develop our own scene.

5.     What do you have up your sleeve for Macchialina? Any unique dishes for Miami Spice?

We just hosted our Pirolo’s Panino pop up for three days in June and plan on popping it up around the city over the next few months; think traditional Northeast sandwich shop.  I am looking forward to Miami Spice this year. We’ve become known for offering all of our signature dishes on our spice menu so you can look forward to more of our creamy polenta this year on our Spice menu.





About Michael Pirolo

Born in Queens, New York, but raised in Avellino, Italy, Pirolo comes from a fiercely passionate food family. So much, in fact, that at the age of 21 he enrolled in culinary school in Torino, Italy; a formal education that led to apprenticeships at Michelin-starred establishments such as La Voglia Matta in Bologna and Café Groppi in Piemonte. After finishing his degree, he relocated to New York and changed tracks, immersing himself in French cuisine before relocating to Philadelphia to take the role of sous chef at Alfred Portale’s Striped Bass, where he met Jennifer Chaefsky. A friendship turned to romance and when Pirolo had the opportunity to return to New York to take a post at Chris Lee’s Gilt at the Palace Hotel, Chaefsky went with him.


During Pirolo’s time at Gilt, the restaurant earned two Michelin stars. Following his love of Italian cuisine and striking up a professional bond with celeb chef/restauranteur Scott Conant, Pirolo joined Conant’s Scarpetta restaurant in New York, then relocated to Miami to take the helm as chef de cuisine of Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. There, Pirolo made a name for himself and rose through the media ranks as a rising star in Miami’s culinary community, an earnest, hard-working, careerist “chef’s chef.” A rare 4-star review from Miami Herald food critic Victoria Pesce Elliot helped elevate his profile and set the stage for Pirolo to move out on his own. He opened Macchialina with Chaefsky on Miami Beach’s Alton Road in 2012.


About Macchialina

Opened late June 2012, Macchialina, located at 820 Alton Road in the heart of South Beach’s residential west side community, has quickly become a favorite Italian restaurant among critics, locals and in-the-know tourists, who flock to the casual neighborhood eatery to indulge in chef/owner Michael Pirolo’s rustic yet sophisticated, Italian fare.


Macchialina began racking up accolades almost immediately, such as a 3½ star Excellent rating from The Miami Herald, a stellar review, as well as Best Restaurant 2013 by the Miami New Times, all in its first year. Pirolo and his team at Macchialina have taken the city by storm. Now heralded as the most starred chef working in Miami, Chef Pirolo continues to garner praise for his soulful, Italian food.


A Q&A with Jennifer Valoppi

 Jennifer Valoppi

Award-winning journalist and Miami Beach resident Jennifer Valoppi talks about why she loves Miami Beach and the inspiration and work of her organization, Women of Tomorrow. See what she has to say and learn more about Women for Tomorrow here: http://womenoftomorrow.org/


Why do you love Miami Beach and have chosen to live here?


·        I moved to South Florida in 1994 from New York and Los Angeles. My husband and I bought a house on Miami Beach in 1997 and fell in love with this community. Both my boys were born and raised here and as they say, once you get the sand between your toes you never leave. 


How would you best describe Miami Beach to visitors?


·    We live where everyone else vacations, in a hip, stylish, multi-cultural, diverse and uber sophisticated community. We are where everyone wants to be.


What are your favorite things to do on Miami Beach?


·         You mean besides the beach/ocean, Lincoln Road, Soho House, Prime 112, Joe’s Stone Crab, Taco Rico,  of course, my husband’s two Miami Beach Chicken Kitchens, Yoga, Pilates, golf, and of course the incomparable views coming over the bridges?


Hmmm, I’ll have to think about it…


What do you think are some of the events that have a real impact on Miami Beach?


·         We love Art Basel and especially Design Miami.  It is so hip and cool and so Miami Beach.  This is a community of innovators and tastemakers and it’s fun to be a part of it.


Tell us more about Women of Tomorrow (WOT), why did you start the organization and how has it changed lives?


·         Don Browne, another Miami Beach resident and I, started Women of Tomorrow in 1997 as a way to help at-risk girls live up to their full potential.  It started as a small grass roots organization when I was anchoring the news at NBC 6 and Don was the President.  Today, Women of Tomorrow mentors over 4,000 girls each year in every public high school in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, as well as Metro Detroit and Philadelphia high schools. We have a 95% high school graduation rate among an at-risk group of girls and we’ve given out over $6 million in college scholarships, many to young woman who are the first in their families to graduate high school and go on to higher education.   One of our Beach High girls last year went to Harvard! Many of our graduates are now successful professionals and are back mentoring for us!



What are some upcoming initiatives for the organization?


·         Currently, we are preparing to install a first of it’s kind sculpture in the center of Bal Harbour Shops. It a gorgeous sculpture of a woman that has, like our girls, weathered the storm and came out stronger.  This particular sculpture by New York artist Ray Smith, was nearly destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Now bronzed, she stands as a testament to all our girls have accomplished. The base will be comprised of the names of donors who are so generously giving to support the Women of Tomorrow cause and help our girls become educated, self-sufficient adults. 


What is the future of Women of Tomorrow, how do you see the organization expanding and growing?


·         We are currently expanding in Detroit and Philadelphia and hope to someday have the Women of Tomorrow program in every major city in the country.   If you’d like to support Women of Tomorrow please go to womenoftomorrow.org or call us at 305 371-3331.


About Jennifer Valoppi

Jennifer Valoppi is a multi-Emmy Award winning TV journalist, award winning author and social entrepreneur, who has been recognized seven times on the floor of the United States Congress and is a recipient of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Points of Light Award, the highest honor in Florida.


She appears frequently on TV, Radio and in print publications as a host, social entrepreneur, expert dealing with Women’s Issues, Mentoring, Journalism and the relationship between science and spirituality – the focus of her novel, Certain Cure. Recent appearances include Lifetime, PBS, WPLG – ABC Miami, CBS 4 Miami, NBC 6 Miami, Comcast Newsmakers, Coast Radio, and Disney Radio, along with numerous local radio stations nationwide. She has appeared recently in The Miami Herald, Gotham Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, and Town & Country.  Jennifer’s speaking engagements include featured speaker at the Cleveland Clinic’s International Women’s Day, a Weizmann Institute of Science gathering, the International Women’s Forum (IWF) World Leadership Conference 2009 and the 2011 Florida Judicial Conference.


President/Founder of the Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program; a unique mentoring organization that is considered a model for the nation. Jennifer is currently engaged in expanding WOT nationally, thanks in part to a $3 million dollar grant from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Jennifer directs the mentoring of thousands of at-risk young women in over 150 public high schools in more than 50 cities in Florida and Metro Detroit and has helped provide mentees with approximately $3.2 million in college scholarships.


WOT is a unique, high impact program, designed by Jennifer in 1997, which boasts a 92% high school graduation rate among an at-risk population. Through Jennifer’s leadership, WOT has received national recognition and has been the focus of study by the Harvard Business School Community Partners Program. Jennifer was named a Heavy Hitter in Non-Profit by the South Florida Business Journal.



Environmental and Sustainability Division; An MBVCA Q&A


The MBVCA sat down with the City’s Environmental & Sustainability Division to discuss Miami Beach’s efforts to combat climate change as well as the many green and eco-friendly initiatives. See what they had to say and check out all of their programs here: Environmental and Sustainability Division

·         How would you best describe the unique mix of urban and natural beauty that exists in Miami Beach?

When our City was founded over 100 years ago, the western side of the island was protected with a dense mangrove forest and the Atlantic coast was covered with palmettos along a beach dune. As the City grew, the mangroves were cut down and filled to create land for development and the dune was converted into ocean front properties. Since then, we have learned about the value of these natural resources and their important role in our community. So, as we plan for the next 100 years, bringing back our natural resources is a critical component of our resiliency strategy.


Natural systems, such as dunes, mangroves, and coral reefs, protect our City against weather events and create habitat for plants, corals, fish, and birds. The vegetation in coastal dunes keeps beaches strong by gradually accumulating sand, minimizing erosion rates, and reducing the need for renourishment projects. The dunes also protect coastal infrastructure and properties from storm damage by blocking surge and absorbing wave energy.



Similarly, red mangrove forests have been found to have the highest carbon net productivity amongst all ecosystems and approximately 3 to 4 times more than temperate and tropical forests. A mangroves’ ability to provide a habitat for microorganisms contributes to the high amount of carbon it sequesters. In addition to reducing carbon in the atmosphere, mangroves protect the shoreline by adapting to changes in the water line and the elevation of the land. Therefore, shorelines that incorporate natural resources like mangroves are an important asset to climate adaptation and mitigation in coastal communities like ours.


As our city continues to develop, we will continue to explore options to promote the restoration and reintroduction of these habitats. After all, our beaches, waterways, and overall natural environment are what make our City so unique!


  • How would you describe Miami Beach to visitors? What makes Miami Beach special to you?

The City of Miami Beach is a barrier island community located in southeast Florida between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The City has flourished by linking the urban environment to its natural capital including parks, natural and manmade waterways, sea grass beds, mangrove shorelines, sand dunes, and over seven miles of white, sandy beaches. The City’s beaches are a critical economic, recreational, environmental, storm protection, and erosion control asset for the City of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, and the State of Florida. Last year, they attracted approximately 7 million overnight visitors to Miami Beach which spent $11.4 billion. Additionally, the beaches are the first line of defense in protecting over $30 billion in taxable property value in Miami Beach against storm surge and sea level rise.



Miami Beach has approximately 70 miles of shoreline along numerous canals and waterways. The waters surrounding the City support a wide variety of flora and fauna. These waters also act as nurseries and habitat for migratory birds and for commercially and recreationally important fish. Furthermore, the City’s beaches support shorebird species and are a designated nesting habitat for the protected Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback sea turtles.



  • Year after year, visitors flock to Miami Beach in massive numbers, how does the city educate and advocate to keep the city green while also promoting the growth of tourism?

The Miami Beach anti-litter campaign was developed to encourage people to keep Miami Beach clean through the lens of fitness.  This City is not only known for its natural beauty but also its attractive and healthy individuals. Utilizing the platform of fitness, the campaign is geared towards making the disposal of trash a way of life and a way for everyone to explore the City, stay active, and make a difference. The campaign was created with a sense of flexibility to serve as a lead-way to teach people on how to properly recycle as well as incorporate the element of reusing. The City collaborates with local non-profits for beach clean-up, waterways clean-up and dune-restoration activities. The City has also promoted trees and balcony plants give-away, as well as workshops for residents regarding composting, rain-barrels, energy and water savings, amongst others. 


In addition, very turtle season, throughout the months of April to October, the City has educational campaigns for residents and visitors on how to improve the nesting conditions for marine turtles. The City also works closely with Miami-Dade County and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to provide support for the nesting conditions of marine turtles.



·         Does the Environment and Sustainability Department work directly with hotels?

Our Director, Elizabeth Wheaton, is a member of the Sustainable Hospitality Council. Spearheaded by the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, this group serves as a source to exchange ideas and promote sustainable practices within the hospitality industry. Additionally, the City is currently in the process of working with a local hotel on the development of a green alley. Green alleys can transform underutilized and neglected alleys into safe, attractive, and functional social spaces that foster community cohesion. This green initiative can help in reducing the use of alleys for illicit activities, creating a safe place for active recreation and pedestrian activity, and utilizing the public space for implementing community gatherings and events.


  • Considered a “natural capital” can you share how Miami Beach protects its many vulnerable flora and fauna (i.e. sea turtles and beach cluster vine)?

The City of Miami Beach has a Dune Management Plan and a Dune Restoration and Enhancement Program to foster and maintain a healthy, stable, and natural dune system. The City manages the urban, man-made dune as close to a natural system as possible and ensures the dune provides storm protection, erosion control, and a biologically-rich habitat for local species. The dune restoration efforts includes the removal of non-native, invasive plant species such as Scaevola taccada and Casuarina equisetifolia; the replanting of cleared areas with native species; the selective trimming of native vegetation; the demolition of remaining wooden dune crossovers; the replacement of protective fencing adjacent to the dunes; and, the installation of educational signage.


It is especially critical that the City limit pollutants from entering the environment due to its proximity to the City’s vast system of interconnected waterways and sensitive marine habitats. One pollutant of particular concern is expanded polystyrene, petroleum based by product which constitutes a large portion of the litter in the City’s streets public places and waterways. Expanded polystyrene is a particularly harmful pollutant because it is non-biodegradable and not readily recyclable, and fragments into smaller pieces that easily enter and remain in the environment, harming or killing marine life and other wildlife that accidentally ingest it. The City recently adopted a polystyrene ban where no food service provider or store shall sell, use, offer for sale or use, or provide food in expanded polystyrene food service articles including the sale or use of polystyrene ice chests and coolers, with few exceptions. The City is currently under the educational and written warning phase of the ban, but on September 16, 2016, the enforcement and penalty provisions of the ordinance with regard to all other expanded polystyrene food service articles (in addition to coolers and ice chests) will take effect.



In addition, the City is looking for opportunities to use natural or living shorelines as an alternative to traditional seawalls. Beyond structural stabilization, living shorelines enhance the waterfront revitalization and aesthetic value of the site; provide protection of surrounding riparian and intertidal environment, creation of habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species, and improvement of the water quality via filtration of upland run-off.


The City is also looking towards decreasing its GHG emissions and is finalizing its first GHG inventory. In order to reduce the City’s GHG emissions as well as to design, build, and operate a new generation of efficient, environmentally responsible, healthy and resilient buildings, the City recently adopted a green building ordinance. Now the City requires LEED Gold certification or Living Building Challenge certification for all new constructions over 7,000 square feet or ground floor additions to existing structures that encompass over 10,000 square feet of additional floor area. 


  • Miami Beach is undergoing a vast array of environmental initiatives and projects right now; when will these be completed and how will they affect residents and visitors?

Miami Beach is taking a leadership role in establishing effective long and short terms solutions to address one of our world’s toughest challenges: preparing for the future uncertainties of our changing climate. Its geographic location and low-lying topography makes this coastal municipality inherently vulnerable to flooding, storm surge, and other environmental impacts.  As part of its resiliency efforts, adaption and mitigation solutions have become critical.


Miami Beach is adapting to sea level rise by updating their existing gravity-based stormwater system with tidal control valves, pump stations, and other innovative drainage improvements. Pump stations and raising roads serve to keep streets dry by quickly expelling rainwater and elevated groundwater from urban areas.  The City is also amending the Land Development and Zoning Codes to establish standard base flood elevation, higher minimum finish floor elevations, and minimum elevations for public and private seawalls.


Natural infrastructure is also a major component to Miami Beach’s adaption efforts.  The City’s beach and dune system provide natural buffer to protect the City from storm surge and erosion, while also providing natural habitat for migratory birds and nesting sea turtles.  The City is also developing a robust urban reforestation program to increase the City’s tree canopy, reduce heat island impact, capture stormwater and create a more walkable city.


About $430 million will be invested in capital improvements for the City’s storm water management system for the next 5 years. Temporary construction can affect residents and visitors, however this improvements will preserve their quality of life, as well as provide a more resilient place for them to live and visit.

A Q&A with Eric Trelles

 Eric Trelles2


The MBVCA sat down with famed wedding/event planner Eric Trelles. Eric shares his advice for couples planning a wedding in Miami Beach and thoughts on top trends for the upcoming season. See what he had to say, and be sure to check out his work: ET Events.


Why do you love Miami Beach as a wedding destination?


Miami Beach offers couples a range of totally different experiences. The Beach has a wide range of venues from specific-event spaces to huge resorts and there are also venues for all price points. The Beach also gives wedding guests, a variety of stay options from high-end to budget. Better yet, it is so easy to plan events for your wedding party, like a post-wedding brunch because everything is pretty much within walking distance.


What are some reasons couples should consider having a wedding on Miami Beach?


Miami Beach is perfect because of its ideal weather and pristine beaches. It is also convenient for couples looking to have a destination wedding. Miami Beach offers wedding guests the ideal option of a tropical wedding without having to fly internationally. Plus, once guests are on the Beach, almost everything is within walking range.


What are your favorite venues on Miami Beach for a wedding?


I could tell you my favorites but it really depends on the couple. There are so many great options on the Beach that vary in size. It could be anything from the Fontainebleau to the Palms to the Tides. It could be literally on the beach – on the sand – or on a yacht anchored in the Bay. The choices are endless.


What touches do you suggest for a spring wedding?


For the spring, I generally recommend keeping it light, with lots of linens, giving the wedding a tropical feel without being over the top. It’s best to go with subtle greens and I tend to recommend going less on the floral. I listen to the couple and focus on getting as much information as possible to make sure their wedding day is seamless.


What advice do you consistently give brides?


The most important advice I can give couples is to keep track of your guest count. The guest count really can determine the vibe and feel of the wedding. For small to medium weddings on Miami Beach, I highly recommend a boutique hotel venue, which provides a more intimate and authentic experience.


What makes wedding planners invaluable?


Quality wedding planners give the assurance that couples will be able to enjoy their special day. A good wedding planner is almost like an insurance policy because you’re working with someone who has the experience in dealing with every type of issue. A wedding planner calms all fears and uncertainties and should deal with the “day-of” issues that couples shouldn’t be bothered with. At the very least, a wedding planner should tie up any loose ends, but a quality wedding planner will make the couple feel like they are guests at their own wedding.


Is there one thing you think is often overlooked but is an important wedding detail?


Weddings are all about details. It amazes me that a lot of couples nowadays overlook their ceremony. Recently, I see that couples often get worked up about the reception and forget the ceremony. The ceremony is the essence of why all of their guests have joined them on their special day. I often tell my guests to remember that there isn’t a reception, without a ceremony.



About Eric Trelles

Eric Trelles is more than an Event Coordinator. He’s also an extraordinary entertainer and artist, with a signature style that transforms even casual events into sophisticated and elegant memories. For more than 20 years, he has delivered dazzling event solutions for brides, celebrities, heads of government, and countless others. His service has even been given on multiple occasions as a gift to brides-to-be. Trelles has a passion for detail, and understands that while many events occur each day, only one of them will belong to you. The end result is an aesthetic triumph, an unforgettable moment that is unmistakably yours. Clients enjoy peace of mind because of the relationship they have with Trelles; long-term friendships even after the event is completed.