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Success C o nn o isseur DEBONAIR DINING When word spread that “The Million Dollar Chef” was opening his first restaurant in the heart of Brickell, foodies across the world clamored to secure a coveted reservation at Kaori by Walter Martino. We catch up with him to see what the charismatic culinarian has been cooking up. TEXT BY SANDY FERNANDEZ PHOTOS COURTESY OF KAORI BY WALTER MARTINO Jetting between Ibiza and Miami, Chef Walter Martino of Kaori — a futuristic Brickell eatery fusing Japanese and Italian fare — credits his success to even parts style and sizzle, a sprinkle of pizzazz and a dash of can-do attitude. In fact, when he plated his now-famous $1 million dish in 2013, the 3D solid gold & diamond embellished serving plates he designed were originally deemed “impossible” by some of the food world’s most respected minds. But Martino wasn’t fazed. “When you have a dream, and you do and see things from a unique perspective, not everyone will understand your vision,” he says. The chef is also recognized for developing the world’s most expensive champagne bottle, with an estimated value of 1.7 million euros, and is currently working on a royal cistern handcrafted with the finest Columbian gold and embedded with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. “Once completed, it will be worth an approximate $3.4 million,” he says. Never one to rest on his laurels, in addition to Kaori, Martino recently launched a luxurious private chef, catering, craft cocktail and event services company in Miami. What’s more, his success in the kitchen will soon translate onto the big screen with a biographical film debut slated for late 2018, where the Chef will play himself. Currently, Food Network, NBC and Netflix have expressed interest in the project. “What the future holds is anyone’s guess,” he says. “But whatever happens, I will give it my all and embrace every step of the journey with gusto!”; WalterMartino.com. 54