Miami Beach Spotlight – Chef Samantha Cruz
Chef Samantha Cruz: Braking Culinary Glass Ceiling
Women’s History Month, which dates back to the first Women’s Day in 1909, is one of the many moments in the year when the City of Miami Beach celebrates and highlights the contributions of women to our community and beyond.
The 2023 Women’s History Month theme, designated by the National Women’s History Alliance, is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories” – honoring women who have devoted their lives and talents to making a difference.
This month we celebrate chef Samantha Cruz, the first chef of, the soon to be launched, Rum Room and Venu, located in the Miami Beach Convention Center campus in Collins Canal Park. Chef Cruz is a culinary dynamo and is bringing her innovative and creative style of cooking to Miami Beach Civic Center.
There is an old saying that “women make good cooks, but men make better chefs.” Setting aside this statement is false, it does give us a snapshot of how the culinary community has looked at the role of men and women in professional kitchens. With over 147,434 chefs currently employed in the United States, 25.2% women and 74.8% men, there is room for growth.
Sadly, women have had to fight for equality in the kitchen. However, equality is finding a seat at the dining table and making a meaningful positive impact. Inspiring female chefs and restaurateurs are showing the world they are capable of thriving and driving creativity in the culinary community. They have been tenacious and are now prospering and exerting influence within a male dominated industry.
Chef Samantha Cruz’ twelve (12) years of experience in fine dining and sports entertainment hospitality is rooted in her determination and resolve to do the unexpected with local produce and multi-cultural flair. A South Florida native, raised in Allapattah by a single mother, Chef Cruz is the eldest of nine siblings and was introduced to cooking by making lunches and dinners for her family. Raised on family recipes that reflect her American, Cuban, Peruvian, Dominican Republic and St. Croix heritage, Chef Cruz’ distinctive flavors are unique and familiar to South Floridian palates.
Chef Cruz’ professional career started after high school, as a restaurant food runner. Thereafter, her curiosity and ambition progressed from front and back of house to working as an Executive Sous Chef at hospitality powerhouses 50 Eggs Hospitality Group (Swine, Yardbird, and Kong River House), Grove Bay Hospitality Group (Big Easy and Glass and Vine), and as Chef de Cuisine at PLANTA in Coconut Grove.
Chef Cruz is passionate about food preservation, specifically the concept of preserving and pickling food naturally. Learned in her grandparents’ kitchen, preservation drives her old-world rustic style gastronomy. “We are using local and regional grown ingredients to make special food to delight residents, visitors and tourists,” says Cruz. “The Rum Room and Venue signature dishes range from the best version of everyday comfort food to the eccentric and extraordinary.”
Upscale menus, inspired by traditional Miami dishes and South Florida’s Caribbean roots, are inspired by the Rum Room, a 60-seat restaurant with tropical, 1920s Florida decor. Rum Room cuisine will incorporate Spanish features, like beans and sofritos, a nod to the Spaniards passing through Miami Beach in the early 20th century. Mixing Haitian, Latin, and Central American influences, Chef Cruz and her kitchen team are creating one-of-a-kind experiences – with authentic dishes such as “media noche” sandwiches made from sweet plantain dough, pan con bistec, croquetas, and tamales.
The Venu, formerly the 1916-built Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse, will give Chef Cruz opportunities to customize imaginative food and beverage menus for small gatherings, business meetings, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and more.
“Everything feels natural to me in the kitchen,” shares Chef Cruz. “I love cooking, making people happy, and being a role-model to the next generation of female chefs.”
The Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) is located at 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Rum Room is on the northeast corner of the MBCC Campus Center, where Washington Avenue meets Dade Boulevard. Venu is located in the 1916-built former Miami Beach Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse at 2100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Rum Room will be open for lunch and dinner and launch a Sunday brunch in early 2023.