Adriano Flor - Miracle Grill
and Share Our Strength

Adriano: I’m from West Africa; I immigrated to Amsterdam and started working on a ship. My first job in the kitchen — I was 16 years old and I washed the pots. It was like a cargo ship, so I got a job in the kitchen and then I got to help make all the bread and pastries, as a sous chef [“under” or second chef]. But I started washing the pots. It was a hard job. You had to stay to the kitchen closes, 3 or 4…. It was a learning process because I wanted to be a chef, so I pushed myself to train.… because it was exciting. I like to make new stuff and also I didn’t have to do the cleaning. And as I go, I fell more in love with the job. [On the ship] you meet a lot of people… but in the afternoon I liked to explore… [Now] even breakfast I have out. I don’t cook at home. I wake up I have lunch [out], always exploring.

Do you pick up new recipes by trying new food?
You know, I always love to create my ideas. Sometimes I when I got to the gym, because that’s what I do I work out a lot. I’ll be on the treadmill and I think, wow. I will get my brain started, and this may be something I never made before. Sometimes I put it in my mind and I just do the stuff and I know it’s going to be good, it’s really something I’ve been waiting for.

Living in the East Village, it’s interesting because you walk in the street and you just meet people… sometimes they come here often, 3 or 4 times a week. They bring friends, people that I know, my regular customers. I treat everybody the same, if you work here you are special. So you come to eat at the Miracle Grill I say, okay, she’s a VIP. Everybody is VIP for me. I always make time, even when I’m busy; I make time to stop at the table.

I have a recipe book and I teach everyone to do the stuff. When I’m not here, the sous chef is in charge. He works with me. I’m on the line, I don’t just expedite. I oversee the grill steak on the grill. I finish the dish, there are a lot of stuff that I do… but nobody calls me “chef.” I’m just the same as them. If I have to do dishwasher, I know what to do. I never ask somebody to do something I don’t do myself. I’m here at [noon] and I close the kitchen on weekdays we close at 11:30[pm], Sundays at 11[pm], weekends we close at 12 [midnight].

Awhile ago I started volunteering with Share Our Strength. Kids are what I really like the most… I [also] teach people with AIDS, teaching nutrition… what you can buy for $10, what you have to look for when you go shopping, don’t buy too much because they are on sale, because you aren’t going to eat it, especially if you live alone, low fat content, a lot of protein. Senior citizens know how to cook, but they don’t eat too much vegetables. So I show them like a shake, with fresh fruits, because it is easy, and there are certain techniques you know like I teach them certain techniques, how you can peel a mango… There is a technique, especially me, you know, if I’m going to make a salsa, and I’m going to make 40 orders of fish, so I have a technique to do that.