Saturday Sweets: Chef Maria, Pubbelly Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

Pubbelly Miami Pastry Chef Donuts

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the Pubbelly Boys and their amazing savory creations, but not everyone knows about their sweet secret weapon – Chef Maria Orantes.  Chef Maria is the Executive Pastry Chef for all of the Pubbelly restaurants, including their newest adventures downtown at PB Station and out to sea at Food Republic on Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest ship, The Escape.  

While she’s busy creating amazing recipes for the new spots, her heart still very happily belongs to her Sunday Brunch Dough Bar 305 found at the original Pubbelly Sushi location in Sunset Harbour.  Each week Chef Maria features around six different delicious donuts available just for brunch. 

Pubbelly Miami Beach Dough Bar 305

Last week I got the chance to sit with Maria to talk about her background in pastry and what she loves most about what she does.

Tell us a bit about your background and what made you go into pastry:

Well, in the beginning I was always bad at pastry.  It’s always been more of a challenge for me and I didn’t go to pastry school.  I only went to culinary school so everything I’ve learned I’ve been picking up little by little. 

Every day I learn something new and it’s amazing.  That’s why I love it and that’s why I keep pushing myself to test different flavors and different techniques.  When I got my scholarship for culinary school, I spoke to one of the Deans and asked if I could intern somewhere before taking the scholarship because I didn’t want to waste his time or money or my time or my money if I decided I didn’t like working in a kitchen.  I had read a lot before and was afraid that I might not like cooking in a kitchen and maybe I only liked home cooking.  He said okay, and he got me an internship at Michy’s, so that’s where I started.  I started interning there for the summer before I started college and I fell in love with it. 

I was there every day.  In the morning I would help Vanessa, the pastry chef they had at that time and then I would also do prep and work service and I was just so in love with it.  When I started school I was juggling everything.  I didn’t want to leave Michy’s, they introduced me to everything that was culinary.  That’s where I developed my love for pastry and Vanessa was amazing, too!  She was more into the American classic sweets and it was perfect.  I’ve been doing pastry work for about six years now!   

What influences your menu the most?

A lot of things actually.  I read a lot so it can be something I read in a book or a magazine.  Or Jose telling me, “Hey I got this ingredient in – wanna try it?” Sometimes it’s what’s in season, we try to keep up with all of the local farmers and promote them in our pastries as well.

Pubbelly Miami Beach Thai Coffee Donut

What’s your favorite thing currently on the menu?

That’s a hard one.  I love all of the desserts that I do, but I think everyone’s favorite has always been the Chocolate Miso Bread Pudding, and for me it has a special place in my heart.  It’s the first dessert I ever made for Pubbelly and it’s really what got me into doing all the desserts that I do for all the restaurants now.

What’s your guilty pleasure dessert?

My guilty pleasure dessert --- to be honest I LOVE apple pie.  It’s just my favorite.  If I don’t have time to make it, I’ll get it from Publix {insert an adorable chuckle here} or I also really like the one from Checker’s.  Checker’s Fried Apple Pie, over McDonald’s Apple Pie – I don’t know why but it’s really good.  When I first moved here from El Salvador at 9 years old, my mom would always drive by Checker’s and we never knew what it was.  One day she said, “Let’s just try it one time” and we went and she looked over and said, “That lady is eating something like a churro, let’s try it!”  So we tried it and I fell in love with it.  So once a week we would go to Checker’s for their Apple Pie and I still love it. 

Pubbelly Donuts Miami Beach

The Dough Bar 305 changes regularly to keep customers on their toes.  To date Chef Maria has made between 30-40 donut combinations for Sunday Brunch service.  She’s got a few regulars that refuse to let her remove the Bacon Donut – made with chicharrones crumbled on top.  The Nutella Brownie is pretty out of control too.  It’s made with the leftover brioche crumbs and is so rich and chocolaty, not for the faint of heart but absolutely my favorite.  Luckily, it’s also always on the menu.  Keeping to the Pubbelly theme incorporating tons of Asian flavors in their cuisine, you can most recently find options like Salty Green Tea filled with Chai Crème, Thai Coffee Donut, and Chocolate Miso Sesame Donut.  Everything coming out of Chef Maria’s kitchen is vibrant with flavors and full of love.  Be sure to check out her Dough Bar 305 on Sundays at Pubbelly Sushi in Sunset Harbour from 12pm to 4pm

Pubbelly Sushi 

1424 20th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

(305) 531-9282