Sami Rodríguez of Miami is a designer, chef and event planner with a flawless sense of style. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he developed a love for the arts at an early age. That love turned into passion and led him to the historic Southeast Georgia city of Savannah to study at the Savannah College of Art and Design – consistently regarded as one of the best arts colleges in the nation (Photo: Dale Stine).
After college, Sami moved to New York City where his career incorporated fashion, interior, graphic, set design and art curation.
In 2002, while working in the art world, he discovered a new love and passion for the culture of hospitality and cuisine. He attended the French Culinary Institute where he trained with award-winning master chefs including Andre Soltner, Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres, earning a grande diplome in Classic Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.
Sami is the visionary mind behind the brand of Sami & Co. His passion for bringing people together in the context of elegant environments, ambiance, delicious food, flowers, cocktails, exceptional service and meticulous attention to detail is the reason he says he started the Miami-based business Sami & Co. in 2008.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Sami for this Hotspots exclusive interview.
Q: At what age did you start cooking?
A: I started cooking very early in life. I don’t really remember exactly when, but I remember myself as a young child always playing in my grandmother’s kitchen with her pots and pans and mixing things.
Q: You started your professional life as a designer. Did you always have a flair for design?
A: Yes, I always had. I started my design career right after I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design and moved to New York City. Although fashion was my thing, my career became a hybrid, crossing not only fashion but graphics, interior, furniture, textile and art dealing.
Q: What made you switch over to cuisine?
A: I always cooked. I don’t really like to call it a switch but an addition to my professional and personal life. This happened when I saw myself cooking and spending more time in the kitchen than anything else. My house became my friends’ and family’s meeting spot, and I ended up not only throwing parties for them but for clients as well — as if I was already a caterer! They all encouraged me to follow that path and I did.
Q: You attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC. How was that experience?
A: Food and the culture of cuisine have changed my life tremendously. Attending FCI was one of the best things I ever did. Not only because it gave me a formal culinary training, but it also exposed and introduced me to the world of hospitality expanding my horizons taking my imagination to the next level.
Q: What made you decide to start Sami & Co? Tell us more about your business…
A: Sami & Co. is my baby. I started the business in 2008 because I wanted to have a project of my own in which I could use all the skills I learned and the talents I have honed through the years. Sami & Co. is a lifestyle firm that elevates ordinary events into extraordinary and unique experiences. We offer boutique services of luxury catering, event design/planning, destination weddings and hospitality management. Our fabulous events are known for our innovative farm-to-table nouvelle cuisine serviced by the most professional handsome staff, our trendsetting design and for our ability to create wonderful environments for entertaining. Our mission is to make unforgettable moments in our clients’ lifetime and transform the celebration of their dreams into a social or corporate masterpiece, from fairytale weddings to corporate galas, birthdays, anniversaries, showers, mitzvahs, museum openings, fashion shows and more.
Q: What is your favorite dish to prepare?
A: Although I am classically -rained and love the food of France, I can’t deny my Latin American roots and my heritage. So to answer this question, I love making comfort food dishes that take me to my childhood memories; a place I visited or a meal I had. I love me some good ol’ fried chicken or some plain and simple rice and beans…Stews, soups and one pot meals are my favorites.
Q: Hotspots readers will want to know…are you married or single?
A: I am happily engaged to a sexy and handsome Argentinean man. Eduardo is my partner in crime, my soulmate and my best friend. He supports me in all my crazy endeavors and pushes me to always strive for excellence. Although he likes to say we met at church, the truth is that we met on the dance floor of a club in Ft. Lauderdale, and we’ll leave it at that because the rest was a long Latin Prime Time TeleNovela drama which we’ll go over in another interview with cocktails. LOL!
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A: I am also a singer/soloist in my free time. Music and song have also changed my life and have always been another passion of mine. In the last five years, it has become a major part in my life as I am an active member of the Unity on the Bay Choir, directed by Dale Stine, where along with other fabulous and powerful singers, we perform every Sunday to a congregation of nearly 2000. I also do private gigs with a party band and sing backup vocals for local artists.
Q: What’s ahead for Sami as well as Sami & Co?
A: Sami has many plans in his life. On a personal level, living a health-conscious lifestyle is my number one priority. Fitness, whole foods, fun, laughter and staying away from toxicity are my main focuses. On a professional level, my career is what drives me but I always like to keep it interesting and in transition to its possible best potential. Currently, I’m working in my lifelong dream, which is to open a small boutique hotel with a gastropub; that way, I can showcase my best talents, and continue to offer fabulous experiences to people.
For more information about Sami & Co. and its services, visit samiandco.com.