Chef Luis Buxo of Hemingway’s Tavern
Tell us Chef, who are you and where do you hail from? Chef Luis Buxo from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
Where can we find you? Hemingway’s Tavern at 1800 West Hibiscus BLVD, Suite 115 Melbourne, FL 32901 We’ve been open since November 2015 and I started about seven months later.
Tell us a little about your professional background. I’ve been a chef for 30 years, in a number of different restaurants: Lowes for ten years, Wyndham Hotel Grand Bonnet Creek, and making my way through life in a number of different chain stores. I was even a trainer for Outback Steakhouse, Macaroni Grille. A lot of different places.
What inspired the concept for Hemingway’s Tavern? Jimmy Tarasavage, the GM of Hemingway’s Tavern, came up with the concept. They opened and then I started a few months later. He was looking for a way to bring Key West to Melbourne, because every time he would go to Key West it was like a different world down there and he wanted to bring that back home. Earnest Hemingway lived down there and that’s the man who inspired this whole endeavor.
How long has it taken you to perfect the overall vision of the restaurant? “The relentless pursuit of excellence” is my motto. We are constantly changing the menu and making improvements. We’re always looking for new flavors and concepts.
Which dish or recipe are you most proud of? I would say the pork belly flat bread. It comes with a house-made black bean spread, sous vide pork belly with Cuban ranch and a Floribbean slaw. That represents what our restaurant is all about, a fusion of all the places where Hemingway lived.
Tell us what it is about your restaurant that sets you apart from the rest? Our restaurant is like a melting pot of all the places where Hemingway lived, it’s got a Cuban, European and Key West flair, melded all in to one. All of our food is a medley of flavors and textures. All of our food is cooked from the heart. We have a rule here in my kitchen “Don’t put anything in the window you wouldn’t serve your mother”.
What’s your favorite perk of being a chef? I get to be creative, come up with new recipes no one has ever seen or tasted. I get to think outside the box and that’s when the magic happens. Also, I get to eat all day long, and that’s pretty great too.
What would you order for your last meal? I would probably have something that comes from home. I’m from Puerto Rico. So I’m thinking I would have monfongo (mashed plantains and pieces of bacon cooked in garlic oil or bacon fat), or sweet plantains and yucca with a nice churrasco (skirt steak).
Where do you spend your time when you’re not running one of the most interesting restaurants on the Space Coast? Fishing. I love fishing; anywhere I can. I’m the guy with a fishing pole in my car. If I see a body of water, and I’ve got time to spare, I’m fishing.
You can find Chef Luis inventing new and delicious recipes at Hemingway’s Tavern, nestled amongst the oak trees draped by Spanish moss, in the Oaks Mall, Melbourne, Florida. Get taken back to the era of the Shenanigans of Hemingway. Experience his favorite foods, his favorite libations; you will feel like you are in Key West back in the 30s. 1800 W Hibiscus Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901. http://hemingwaystavern.com .