Premier Guide Media

bmMeet Chef Bernard Matz from  the Café at Books and Books
Chef Bernard Matz has worked in the culinary industry for over 20 years. Having opened up some of South Beach’s finest restaurants, including Wet Paint Café which-was co-owned with renowned T.V. Chef, Douglas Rodriguez, he has continued to delight the residents of South Florida with his remarkable culinary skills. In 2004, Chef Bernard, along with Bookstore owner Mitchell Kaplan decided to fuse their individual passions by opening a bookstore/café where readers can enjoy a delicious meal while also enjoying a good book. Premier Guide Miami’s Marie-Junie Pierre met with Chef Bernard outside of this breezy outdoor café located on Lincoln Road, where he sat down to give us an inside view into his experiences as a Chef and his career throughout the years.

PGM: What inspired you and Mr. Kaplan to name this eatery,” The Café at Books and Books”?
BM: I remember kicking around different names with Mitchell and we really didn’t have anything better so we decided to just call it the Café at Books and Books. The bookstore had been here for many years and the café was right next to it.  Mitchell had seen seven different reincarnations in five years, where some of the operators would try to impede on his business. The landlord of the Café offered him the café and we decided to go just go along with the name of the bookstore.
PGM: How has the fusion between the café and the bookstore worked out?
BM: 99 % of our customers actually do not come for the books and are not really involved in the book process. We are really a fully fledged restaurant. We would love to ideally have a place where people can sit and drink coffee all afternoon but unfortunately we aren’t able to do that. We have to turn the tables in order to meet our overhead.
PGM:  Tell me a little bit more about your background. How did you enter the culinary industry and how was your first experience in the field?
BM: I opened Wet Paint Café, in 1986. That was my first restaurant venture.
A lot of people knew about Wet Paint Café. The Chef, Douglas Rodriguez, went on to become a famous chef.  It was one of the first cafés on South Beach, and it opened at a time when the rent was really cheap and nobody was really out here.
PGM:  Did you attend a culinary institute to develop your culinary skills or do you consider yourself to be self-taught?
BM:  I briefly attended a culinary institute in 1996 but I think that my culinary skills are a result of experience which I amassed in the field. I definitely consider myself to be a self-taught Chef.
PGM: Did you always want to be a chef while growing up?
BM:  I knew innately that I was going to be a Chef but I never wanted to be a Chef. I worked with Chefs for many years but never worked as a Chef. It took me 25 years to actually do it. I would only cook at home because cooking at home was an art but I considered cooking at a restaurant to be a job.
PGM: How did you and Mitchell Kaplan meet?
BM:  I met Mitchell during the signing of my book, Bernie’s Kitchen. He had actually known me from when I worked at the Wet Paint Cafe.  When I met him, I was at a point where I wasn’t really looking to get back into the restaurant business but Mitchell gave me the opportunity to make this place my own and to treat my customers like my guests. This was exactly what I did from the very beginning and although we originally started with 30 seats, we now have about 140 seats.
PGM: Can you tell me a little bit about your book, Bernie’s Kitchen, which was released in 2004? What kind of book was it?
BM: Bernie’s Kitchen was a multimedia book. It was the first book of its kind and I was doing multimedia at the time. I was in the internet and the dot com boom of the nineties so I did marketing design and the collateral design and I was able to produce the book on the house. It was very fun because it allowed me to share my knowledge and expertise about food with others.
PGM: What are your future goals in this industry? Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
I would love to oversee a chain of cafés at Books & Books all over the country. I would also like to develop a chain of Fast Food Cuban restaurants.
PGM: That would definitely be a great business venture. What would be an alternative career, if someday you got tired of all that or it didn’t work anymore? Is there anything else that you would want to do?
BM: I’d probably do sales. I’ve always been really good in Sales and I have a lot of experience in marketing and business including a MBA in Finance. 
PGM:  That is quite impressive. What words of wisdom do you have for people who would like to pursue a career in the culinary field?
BM: There is nothing like “real hands on experience” in this business. There are too many factors that just cannot be taught in school .School is a great background if one can afford to put in the time but if someone really wants to succeed, hands-on experience, like a part time job in a restaurant, is not only helpful. It is vital in understanding the real work involved in this field.

  1. Today's Best
  2. Top Shows
  3. Best of BTR
    1. Loading

      Brian D. McLaren

      This week on the Cosmic Citizen author, speaker, pastor, and networker among innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists, Brian D. McLaren.

    2. Ice Cube: Hot Again and Again

      For a guy born O’Shea Jackson in the perilous South Central section of Los Angeles, Ice Cube has done pretty well for himself.

    3. Glenn Barker and Dr. Marvin Thompson

      Chloe Taylor Brown, host of The Chloe Show partners with Dr. Marvin Thompson, high school principal and host of Oprah's "Blackboard Wars" and Glenn Barker, Executive Director of The ManKind Project to discuss the courage to be a man and the Warrior Archetype.

    4. Author Dr. Mark Waldman

      Join us of an exclusive 30 minute interview with Mark Waldman, author, lecturer and one of the world’s leading experts on communication, spirituality and the brain, as we discuss relationship between mindfulness, cancer and the brain.

    5. Author Alllison Burnett

      Alllison Burnett is a screenwriter and novelist. His novel Undiscovered Gyrl is being adapted for a film called Ask Me Anything.

    6. Live from The Lion & Eagle Pub

      Ultras Alive is the first English language Soccer Show of its kind. A weekly radio show dedicated to US Soccer, MLS, NASL and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and anything Soccer from a South Florida perspective.

    7. Homer Simpson and Mascow Bacon

      Homer Simpson, Moscow bacon, gross beer recipes, an alternate Star trek intro, and a Clinton inauguration interrupted by the wrath of Khan? Yes, please.

    8. NY Times Best Seller Chris Attwood

      New York Times bestselling author, Chris Attwood, shares ritual techniques that can enable anyone to attain the highest level of success in life from his new book, Your Hidden Richness - Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose.

    9. Monsters Vs Aliens

      Noted film critics Nell Minow and A.J. Hakari square off about which movie creatures are the most entertaining in this spirited Monsters vs. Aliens debate.

    10. Ashlyn Pearce

      In 2013, Ashlyn joined the cast of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, playing the role of ‘Aly Forrester.’ Listen to Take 2 Radio's interview with Ashlyn Pearce.

    11. CNN's Dr Perry

      Dr. Perry has been featured on CNN's Black in America series. He's the most talked about innovative educator on scene today! In addition to being the Principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Dr. Perry is MS

    12. College and Pro Football News

      White Now with Patrick White provides listeners with intriguing ideas concerning the Heisman , recent football news and the NFL MVP race.

    13. David Lyons, MS Spokesman

      Empowered Living Radio host Tori Eldridge chats with David Lyons, MS spokesman and founder of the MS Fitness Challenge about Healing with Fitness.

    14. Charles Brokop

      January Jones welcomes back the brilliant Charles Brokop, the author of 101 Principles to Wealth, Key Financial Secrets for Success: Planning, Investing Saving & Spending. He holds a business degree from ASU and has graduate studies at Harvard University.

    15. Nathan of Terminal Ballistics Research

      EP29 - Interview with Nathan from Terminal Ballistics Research Terminal Ballistics Research (TBR) is a business that was formed to educate hunters and shooters worldwide. Find out how to choose your ballistics in this very informative interview.

    16. Jeremy Renner

      Jeremy Renner joins Cinema Royal to talk about his role as journalist Gary Webb in Kill the Messenger.

    1. Loading

      Small Business Unstuck

      Host Barry Moltz gets small businesses unstuck. He has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 15 years. This is a business radio show where he shares all the craziness of small business. It’s that craziness that actually makes it exciting, interesting and totally unpredictable.

    2. Hits Radio

      Hits Radio covers basketball, sports culture and entertainment with past guests including Jason Kidd, Robin Lundberg and Chris Herren.

    3. The Halli Casser-Jayne Show

      Listeners get an earful on The Halli Casser-Jayne Show, Talk Radio for Fine Minds. Whether it’s the current political cocktail or the latest must-read award-winning book, Halli tackles all topics and likes to stir — and sometimes shakes — things up.

    4. America's Most Haunted

      Official Internet radio show of forthcoming epic paranormal investigation book by Eric Olsen and "Haunted Housewife" Theresa Argie.