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Born to parents with an appreciation for cuisine (and a great-grandmother who was a cooking instructor), José Mendín didn’t discover his own love of cooking until he was off at college on a volleyball scholarship and preparing his own meals. Mendín moved from his native Puerto Rico to Miami in 1998 to enroll at Johnson & Wales University, from which he graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Culinary Arts. Mendín went on to help open Nobu Miami that same year and Nobu London in 2002, with chefs Mark Edwards and Thomas Buckley, respectively.

In 2003, Mendín traveled to Spain to work for Chef Jesús Ramiro in Valladolid, and later Chef Juan Pablo Felipe in Madrid at Michelin-starred El Chaflán. Upon returning to Miami, he joined Rising Star alum Jordi Vallès to open Mosaico.

In 2004, Mendín opened Sushisamba Miami Beach as chef de cuisine, rising to assistant corporate chef for the company in two years and later opening Sushisamba Vegas. Continuing his streak of successful openings, Mendín opened Mercadito Chicago in 2009 and Mercadito Miami in 2010, where he met chef de cuisine, Sergio Navarro. The pair partnered up with Andreas Schreiner to found The Pubbelly Restaurant Group in 2010, where the trio won StarChefs Rising Star Restaurateur Award in 2016.

Mendín is a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist for “Best Chef, Southeast.”