March 10, 2009 / 1:38 PM / 10 years ago

Moran plays culinary maestro at U.S. festival

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - He does not have his own television show or line of cooking ware, but Mike Moran acts as the ring master for the largest annual U.S. food event.

Chef Mike Moran poses in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Handout

As the culinary coordinator of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival since 2002, Moran makes sure some half a million servings of high-end burgers, exotic seafood and other gourmet dishes are properly served to 50,000 visitors.

The New York native said he oversees the preparation of nearly all the festival dishes planned by celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio and Masaharu Morimoto.

At a sold-out barbecue and champagne beach party, for example, the 48-year-old would taste 50 or so of these dishes.

While not working on the festival, Moran has been the chef instructor at the Florida International University’s school of hospitality and tourism management for 18 years.

He spoke to Reuters about last month’s festival and what it is like dealing with top chefs.

Q: Describe the atmosphere of the festival.

A: “This is like a food Olympics.”

Q: How would you see your role at the festival?

A: “In a restaurant, I call the shots. In this case, I’m the ring-master of the circus.”

Q: You have worked with some of the best chefs in the world. Do you have a favorite?

A: “Chris Lilly (head chef at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama). He’s low maintenance. It’s fun to deal with him.”

Q: Has it been fun with all the chefs?

A: “I’ve been cursed out by chefs ... I’m here as a diplomat, but don’t mess with me.”

Q: What kind of job advice do you have for your students in this recession?

A: “There is no magic bullet. This is hard work. Get your foot in the door and show your passion.”


Bang Bang Roast Chicken (Serves 4)

1 whole chicken, about 3.5 to 4 pounds

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 ounces vegetable oil

2 feet of butcher string

Bang Bang

1/2 cup Calvados (French apple brandy)

1/2 cup diced tomato

1 habanero pepper, diced without seeds

3/4 cup finely minced cucumber

1/2 cup green apple finely-diced

1 tablespoon clover honey

1. Wash chicken and reserve to dry, preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.

2. Place spices in a bowl and whisk in oil.

3. Place chicken in bowl with oil and with a brush coat well with the spice mixture.

4. Tie legs together and around the neck with a double knot to keep the chicken compact.

5. Place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the internal temperature measured at the thigh joint is 170 degree Fahrenheit.

6. Place chicken on a platter and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

7. To prepare Bang Bang: Heat roasting pan, pour off fat, then heat up the pan stir with a wooden spoon and add Calvados to deglaze. Then mix remaining ingredients and when warm remove from the pan and serve as a condiment.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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