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Chef Tristen Epps at the helm of Ocean Social on Miami Beach

Taste Of The Town: It's easy, breezy dining at Ocean Social at the Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach
Taste Of The Town: It's easy, breezy dining at Ocean Social at the Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach 03:13

MIAMI - It's easy, breezy oceanfront dining outside the iconic Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach. At the helm of Ocean Social is Trinidadian-born Chef Tristen Epps, formerly executive chef at Red Rooster. He says the vibe is in the name.

"So, us having like one of the only really ocean-view restaurants. It's the vibe, it's just chill. It's like you're hanging out in your backyard with a bunch of friends, and your backyard is the beach," Epps said.

But don't be fooled by the relaxed ambiance; his cuisine is seriously chef-driven. Epps, recently named a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for the Best Chef South Award, uses his roots and experience in travel as the backbone to his seafood-driven menu.

"We want to meld in all the cuisines that kind of come and make up Miami, right? Those Haitian, those Afro-Caribbean, the Latin American cuisines that really kind of hold Miami together," Epps explained.

"So, speaking of Afro-Caribbean, it is Black History Month. How important is it for you to educate people on some of these concepts?," asked CBS News Miami's Lisa Petrillo.

"I mean, it's my life's work. More and more, we're starting to educate ourselves about how Black history food and Black food really is American food and how it's melded into and created the wealth that is American food and cuisine," he said,

During this week's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Tristen is co-hosting a dinner with three other top chefs here at Ocean Social.

"I mean, this is for chefs. This is our Coachella, right? This is our time where we know a bunch of other like-minded people are around, people are really open to food, great wine, great conversation, and once again, the beach just does not hurt," he said.

In the kitchen, Tristen prepares Petrillo's tasting dishes, starting with the Cracklin' Octopus with Chicharron, Golden Mole, Bacon Fat, and Pineapple.

"The biggest thing for me honestly is the combination of that char of the octopus, which I love," said Petrillo. "People don't cook it enough to me without making it tough on the inside, which you did. And then that Caribbean Afro-Mango blend is delish."

Next, a unique and wonderful Key West Shrimp Toast with Aji Amarillo, Garlic Honey, and Mustard. Then, this work of art: Rohan Duck Presse' with Heirloom Florida Rice Grits, Jerk Artichoke, and Red Cabbage Jam.

"Really unique texture on that rice, like you said, kind of a grit feeling but lighter," Petrillo said.

We end on the chef's version of Banana Pudding with Plantains, Cookie Crumble, and Banana Ice Cream—simply heavenly.

"So, there are not, it's not many times that I'm speechless. It's just mind-blowing," said Petrillo.

Ocean Social by Tristen Epps is open seven days a week serving three meals a day from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Click here for more info. 

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