2013-10-10 / Cuisine

In the kitchen with... ANTONIO BRODZIAK,

Cabo Flats Cantina and Tequila Bar

BRODZIAK BRODZIAK While Cabo Flats Cantina and Tequila Bar may be popular for evenings filled with karaoke, drinking and dancing, the traditional Mexican food doesn’t go unnoticed.

“We keep the food as basic and authentic as possible,” says Antonio Brodziak, the head chef at Cabo Flats. “We aren’t creating fancy dishes that look better than they taste.”

Mr. Brodziak, originally from Mexico, attended school for electrical engineering; however, he says that his passion for culinary shined through.

“At the time, in Mexico, being a chef was considered more of just a job than a career,” he says. “I was so excited that my father agreed to send me to culinary school so that I could learn more about what I loved.”

Mr. Brodziak’s passion for cooking sparked at a young age, when he cooked with his grandmother. Preparing authentic food with his grandmother and attending culinary school at the Universidad Ibero Americana taught him about different spices and recipes that helped him become the chef that he is today.

New York, San Francisco, Denver and Acapulco are just some of the places where he says he was able to display his culinary talent as well as learn under other master chefs.

“I worked under Alicia D’Angeli, the president of the Mexican Culinary Association,” he says. “This really opened up a lot of doors for me.”

Working at Madieras in Acapulco, and expanding his culinary experience, Mr. Brodziak says that he was exposed to Mexican flavors in fusion with other international flavors.

But this was just the start of combining new flavors for Mr. Brodziak. When Mr. Brodziak moved to New York, he was exposed to French and Asian cooking techniques, which, he says, enabled him to combine all the flavors together to create masterpieces.

Mr. Brodziak says that he wasn’t thrilled about moving to Florida, but while working under New York restaurateur Richard Sandoval, opportunity knocked for a Mexican restaurant in CityPlace.

Though the restaurant only lasted for 11 months, Mr. Brodziak stayed in Florida, where he became the executive sous chef at Frenchman’s Creek for three years, owned his own restaurant for 10 months and opened Cabo Flats Cantina and Tequila Bar as the head chef in 2010.

He likes the multigenerational appeal of Cabo Flats.

“We have lunch hours, happy hour, ladies night, karaoke night, and we even do Cabo Cares, which is our fundraising event,” says Mr. Brodziak.

While the signature dishes on the menu are derived from personal recipes, there are also many items such as chicken wings and “que pasta” that are simple fan favorites.

Mr. Brodziak says that his favorite pick from the menu would the be Carne Asada, which is grilled skirt steak served over refried black beans topped with sautéed onions, guacamole and a chile de arbol sauce served with plantains and cilantro rice.

“I work about 65 to 70 hours a week,” he says. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m doing what I love and I cook with nothing but love.”

Name: Antonio Brodziak

Original hometown: Mexico City

Restaurant: Downtown at the Gardens, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave.,
Palm Beach Gardens; 624-0024 or Caboflats.com

Mission: “My mission is to make people happy and for everyone to have a nice time.”

Cuisine: Contemporary Mexican

What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen?

“I’m wearing Birkenstock shoes,” he says. “It important to take care of your feet in the culinary industry. I just had new insoles made about a month ago!”

What is your guilty culinary pleasure?

“Thai food,” he says. “I just love the combination of sweet and spicy.”

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a chef?

“If you want to be a chef, you need to be willing to work long hours,” he says. “When you are a chef, your schedule is completely opposite from others, and it is hard to get used to. But, the most satisfying thing about being in this industry is when people tell you how much they love and enjoy your food.” ¦

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