By Chef Michelle Bernstein

IMUSA-12_12_13 38671I’m so happy to be part of the IMUSA Celebrity Chef Team for 2014. I feel a really strong connection to IMUSA, as a chef and a mom.

In its mission statement, IMUSA talks about making products that “help bring Abuelas’ (grandmas’) recipes to life.” That really describes how my love of cooking began.

Growing up, my mom took great pride in showing me how to make all of the delicious comfort foods that she learned in Argentina as a child. It created a passion in me I never really knew existed. At my mom’s urging, I was off to culinary school for formal training.

That connection to the Latin comfort food of my youth has been a driving force in the development of my style of cooking. The ability of food to convey love is pretty incredible stuff. Watching people leave our restaurant, Michy’s, or our bakery/cafe, Crumb on Parchment, happy and full, is extremely gratifying.

Nothing is better, however, than cooking for our 2-year-old son, Zach. Seeing how he reacts to tasting many of those delicious dishes that my mom made for me, really brings home what cooking is all about. These dishes are handed down through each family and collectively make up the living cuisine of a culture. IMUSA understands that important connection and the diversity of culture and cuisine.

As important as the right tools are in the kitchen, so are the right ingredients. Throughout my career, I’ve found that cooking with natural and local ingredients, whenever possible, makes a huge difference in the finished product. It might take a few minutes longer to execute, but your family will taste the difference and you can have peace of mind that you are providing the most healthful and nutritious meals possible made with love.

Another reason I love this career is the opportunity it gives me to support many worthy causes. I spend a lot of time working with Common Threads, which educates kids about nutrition and being active and teaches them some real culinary skills that they can use for a lifetime. There is nothing more gratifying than enriching the lives of others here in the Miami community

I’m so looking forward to being a part of the IMUSA team in 2014.