Interview with Chef Jimmy Pastor of the Rusty Pelican, SoBe Seafood Fest Participant – The SoFla Sage

Earlier this summer, we visited the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne for the first time (check out our blog post about it here) to try their new menu and it was AWESOME! Well, we just couldn’t keep away from what has quickly become one of our favorite spots in South Florida. So, last week we went back to learn more about Executive Chef Jimmy Pastor. We talked about the upcoming South Beach Seafood Festival in October (so stoked, we LOOOVE seafood) and much more during our one-on-one interview below. The Rusty Pelican is one of the participating restaurants at the main event on Saturday, October 21st. Also, Chef Jimmy will be battling it out during the Chef Showdown on Friday, October 20th against Toro Toro and will be making a special tuna dish.

This article originally appears on the SoBe Seafood Fest Blog

Interview teaser video:

About Chef Jimmy Pastor: 

chef jim

(Photo via Linked-In)

Born in the Big Apple and now making a splash in the Big Orange, Chef Jim Pastor was destined to be in the kitchen. Raised by Costa Rican parents, whose love of food and natural ingredients were instilled in Chef Jim at an early age.

Chef Jim enrolled in the University of Johnson & Wales in both Rhode Island and Miami so he could see the different seasonal produce and cultural diversity that makes up the very fabric of American Cuisine, after successfully completing his course and obtaining his degree, Jim embarked on his career in the auspicious Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne.

Chef Jim was part of the team that was awarded the AAA 5 Diamond Award, one of only four hotels in Miami with that distinction, Jim then became part of the award winning team at ‘Atrio’ in the Conrad Miami, where the fusion of Latin and Asian flavors won distinction of being the ‘Best Fusion Restaurant’ and ’Best Pan Asian Restaurant’ in the Miami New Times for two consecutive years.

Jim eventually returned to Key Biscayne, the place where he began his career at the Ritz Carlton for him to embark on the most challenging position of his career to date. The Rusty Pelican, which after its renovations positioned him as Executive Chef for this iconic Miami restaurant. Through out the restaurant Jim is know as a strong leader and fun loving person, this in turn translates to his food. He where’s his heart on his sleeve and it shows in his cuisine. When he describes the food he has created he calls it comfort food with a twist, and wants to make the restaurant into the best seafood spot in Miami.

Full interview:

Sage: Why do you refer to your style of cooking as “comfort food with a twist”?

Chef Jimmy: With comfort food, there’s no hiding what the ingredients are and most of the dishes are simple and straight forward. For the twist: we are continuously evolving our cuisine and want to continue elevating the food (along with the service).

Sage: What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?

Chef Jimmy: My favorite dish could be considered three dishes in one, it’s our Rusty Pelican Board which features our crowd favorites; Local Snapper, Lobster Risotto, and a NY steak with our special steak seasoning.

Lobster Risotto

Sage: One of my favorite dishes on the menu is the bacon wrapped scallops, can you tell us more about how those are prepared?

The Rusty Pelican Miami Key Biscayne

Half-portion of the Bacon Wrapped Scallop dish

Chef Jimmy: Bacon wrapped scallops are one of those old school items that chefs try and shy away from but if you can do it in a way that elevates the dish and changes peoples perception.. then why not? We take black rice cooked with herbs, citrus and a lot of aromatics then we fold in some of our garlic parsley oil to bring out the flavor of the rice. We then do a foie gras mousse to help add some richness to the rice and finish it with a chorizo vinaigrette. We get day boat scallops from the NE and warp them in a high quality thin cut bacon and pan sear them until they crisp up beautifully.

Sage: How does the pink rice in the deco maki dish get its pink color? What inspired the unique garnishes on the plate?

The Rusty Pelican Miami Key Biscayne

Chef Jimmy: The rice gets its color from beets that we puree. The roll was inspired by the art deco that we have in Miami and that’s why I choose the name and color, I was inspirited by our beautiful city’s art and skyline.

Rusty Pelican Miami

Sunset view from The Rusty Pelican

Sage: What is your favorite food from the sea?

Chef Jimmy: My current favorite seafood dish is the grilled swordfish, I’m a huge fan of this particular fish because it so versatile. We plate it with a cauliflower cream, chorizo migas and pickled cauliflower — its amazing!

Sage: How has your experience as a chef prepared you to participate in the South Beach Seafood festival?

Chef Jimmy: Everyday in the kitchen is like a competition.. making sure we get the food out on time, changing our menus, creating specials and whatever other curve balls the restaurant industry throws at us.

Check out our blog post about SoBe Seafood Fest 2017 and be sure to use discount code SeaSage20 for 20% off your ticket! *** buy your ticket here ***

P.S. new dessert alert:

Rusty Pelican Miami

Cherry Cheesecake

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All images appearing in this post photographed by Holli Lapes, property of

Disclosure: I received a complimentary tasting at The Rusty Pelican. All opinions are my own

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