Chef Richard Hales: #TNTShowdown Chef Profile

The Taco & Tequila Showdown #TNTShowdown presented by MIAbites and The Liquid Projects is locked in for Sunday November 8th 6-9 pm at the Vagabond Restaurant and Bar.  

12 chefs and bartenders will battle it out to be selected for best taco and tequila drink, and to further whet your appetite and give you a little back story, MIAbites will be profiling each of the chefs leading up to the event. Tickets to #TNTShowdown are $65 in advance and available on Eventbrite link here. 

Chef Richard Hales has been tantalizing Miami taste buds for quite a long time and his list of restaurants seems to keep growing by the minute. Hales is the mastermind behind Miami gems Sakaya Kitchen, Blackbrick Chinese, Dim Ssam a Go Go food truck, and Centro Taco, which just announced it will be closing its downtown location to operate as a pop-up. 

Before Centro Taco came into play, Chef Hales' restaurants focused mostly on Asian fusion with Sakaya Kitchen highlighting the chef's take on Korean food and Blackbrick highlighting upscale, complex versions of your typical Chinese take-out. A trait that makes Chef Hales stand out is his creativity with modernizing and personalizing classic dishes. This trait has carried through at Centro Taco. While you'll find traditional tacos al pastor or cochinita pibil you'll also find Florida gator pibil and carne asada con lobster, and even numerous vegan menu items.  His Miami clientele have come to embrace Hales' ingenuity and have welcomed his spin on classic dishes. 

Hales has been recognized nationally with Bon Appetit magazine nominating Blackbrick Chinese a Top 50 Best New Restaurant in America, an appearance on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in New York City.

Hales is also known for his sarcastic wit as as you will see evidenced below from some of the ( and at times quite humorous ) answers to the our questions:

How has being a chef/owner in Miami changed over the last few years?

When I started in Midtown I was the only Chef there, at that moment only Five Guys was open. So for me it's changed a lot just right outside my door.  

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

Lead guitar for Van Halen

What is your personality in the kitchen: Angel or Demon?


What ingredient could you not live without?  


Your least favorite ingredient?

Raw onion

What is the last dish you cooked for yourself?

Ice water

Your favorite restaurant other than your own (naturally)?

I hear Taco Bell is doing wonderful things

If you cook alongside any chef…alive or dead, who would it be and why? 

Betty Crocker

Let’s talk tacos:  Corn or Flour?


Hard or Soft?


What is the craziest taco combo you have ever had?

Crickets & sweetbread & foie

And where?  

Centro Taco

Can you give us a hint as to what you plan on submitting as your “Signature Taco” at TNTShowdown?  

It's lovely 

Why do you think YOU will win?

Centro Taco is where it's at

TNT Showdown welcomes Chef Hales to the participating group of awesome, young, innovative and talented local Miami chefs at Taco & Tequila Showdown on Sunday November 8th 6-9 pm at the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar. Limited availabilty and advance tickets are $65 and available on Eventbrite