and South Beach in particular have witnessed a revival
over recent years. With just over one hundred rooms The
National is one of those perfect South Beach Boutique
Hotels, and it is not just the three hundred foot long
swimming pool nor the hammock in the palm trees that will
dazzle you and leave fond memories, it's got food too....
At the Launch of Cafe Mosaic the hotel's dining room,
GlobalChefs met the face behind the food. Along with many
of their upgrades the most recent to the hotel is their
Chef Dondi Mcnulty.
He is not Bubba Gump, but this New Orleans native is the
son of a Shrimper and he was born to cook. Dondi Mcnulty
enlightened us "With a working Mom you did not wait
to get fed you just took care of it yourself". His
Great Grand Mother was an excellent cook and it was she
that took his newly found interest and created the passion
that he possesses to this day; "she created the beast,"
After graduation from High School Mcnulty joined Louisiana
Culinary, to learn the classic culinary foundations.
Upon graduation Mcnulty and two friends took a trip
to Florida for some fun. After the two week trip they
returned home to New Orleans packed their possessions
and drove back. " It was the clear ocean that mesmerized
us. We all wanted to stay in Florida we came back with
our gear and set up home". Home was a small apartment
that all three shared, including the bed, " the
bed we had was so huge that all three could sleep in
it without even touching each other; I think the beer
might have helped a little too".
For the first two years in Florida Mcnulty worked for
movie actor Burt Reynolds as a Sous Chef at his supper
club restaurant, Backstage. A twelve month trip to L.A.
California followed where McNulty worked as the Sous
Chef with an old friend at the fusion restaurant Mélange."
Looking back it should have been called confusion!"
Mcnulty quips, " then my truck got stolen, and
it was time to return to Florida!".
His return took him to Cafe Le Rarouche. During the
next three years Mcnulty would get his first taste of
being "The Chef". The owners sent him to Paris;
to Stage at The Ritz Hotel, during which time he resided
in the red light district "It was just like being
back in New Orleans!"
His next move would secure him a position at what
would come to be South Florida's only AAA Five Diamond,
Mobile Five Star Resort. It started life as The Ocean
Grand and lives on as The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach.
" The food there was always amazing, but when Four
Seasons came in they raised the standards across the
board, first The Restaurant received AAA Five Diamonds,
then the Hotel. Mobile Five Stars followed soon after,
it was a great place to be a Sous Chef; it was very
positive and full of energy, the operation was very
successful. Hubert Des Marais is a great Chef. His style
permeates through to everyone".
After seven years it was time for Mcnulty to carve
his own name. This would mean a trip down I-95 to join
his old friend and Director of Food and Beverage, Matt
Linderman. Now McNulty displays his skills and style.
"I like to cook for people as if they were the
only ones in the room. It's the details. In a restaurant
you need to watch the little things; that is what separates
the good from the great". And whether it's Samurai
Seared Sea Bass or Chef's Hot Hairy Bananas you wish
to sample there is no better place in South Beach and
there is always that hammock to crash in afterwards.......