From Mexico City to Miami, Chef Omar Montero is taking us to flavour town
We follow the chef’s journey to the heart of authentic Mexican food ahead of the opening of his latest venture – La Santa at Soho Beach House
Sunday 17 July 2022 By Diana Rodriguez Photography and Video by AJ Woomer
Chef Omar Montero has been surrounded by food all his life. Some of his earliest memories are of running around different kitchens in Mexico City, where his family ran a catering business. It was the catalyst for a lifelong passion for food – and a desire to spread that passion to the world.
Montero duly attended Mexico City’s prestigious Anahuac University, where his professional culinary training included both French and International/American cuisine. Upon graduating, he landed his dream role: working with the culinary team under renowned Cuban-born chef Luis Pous. Leaving behind family was the first sacrifice he made to reach the end goal – but this mentorship was only the beginning.
A partnership with Noble House in Seattle followed. It was a chance for Montero to expand his experience in fine dining while cooking for very prestigious crowds, with Montero travelling to the likes of Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego and the Napa Valley to help to implement daily-changing menus as new restaurants opened across the country.
As times changed, Montero’s love of his native cuisine remained steadfast. He moved back to Miami, where he was invited by the owner of Mexican restaurant Cantina La Veinte to execute the menu for its sister restaurant, La Veinte Deli & Café. But Omar never stopped thinking about the next step.
La Santa Taquería was born out of a desire to re-educate Miami inhabitants on true Mexican flavours, starting with pop-ups at Midtown Garden Center. Before long he – and his food truck – was becoming famous. He began to serve at different shows and music festivals around Miami, where an ever-growing audience fell under the street food flair of Chef Omar’s take on authentic Mexican dishes. Before long, La Santa had found a permanent home at The Wharf Miami.
The dream continued to grow when Montero signed his first restaurant lease, for La Santa Taqueria restaurant in Little River. Two years on, his most recent project merges his meticulous style with that of Soho Beach House Miami.
It’s 12 years since he first moved to the US, yet the culinary traditions and ingredients of his home country continue to be his greatest inspiration, along with his desire to represent it as best he can – namely, he says, through good cheese, amazing bread and of course, tequila.