​Chef Maria Manso

Born in Havana, Cuba, Maria Manso learned how to cook by her mother’s side.  With seven children in the household, she was naturally trained to prepare over-sized dishes and host large parties.  Chef Manso’s culinary career began as an oyster shucker in 1983 at a restaurant called Café Sbaisa in New Orleans.  By 1987, Chef Manso was working the line and relocated to help open a restaurant called the French Quarter in Denver, Colorado.  After three years in Colorado, she returned to New Orleans and began working for Dick Brenan Jr at his newest restaurant called Palace Café.  Recognizing Chef Manso’s talent, Chef Brennan rapidly promoted her and began to mentor her. 

In 1993, when Chef Manso was ready to return to her Miami roots, Mr. Brennan recommended her to Norman Van Aken, a pioneer of his times and later the father of “New World Cuisine”, who at the time was opening “A Mano”, (his 1st restaurant in Miami) at the Betsy Ross Hotel on Ocean Drive.  She began working the line and later was part of the opening team for Van Aken’s next venture, Van Dome, a night club/supper club.  In 1995 Chef Manso joined China Grill Management as a Sous Chef at China Grill Miami where she would later would become Executive Chef.  

After 5 years at China Grill Miami, in 2000, she began a one year training at the Delano Hotel, where she would experience the hotel’s interactions with a restaurant, all in preparation for her forthcoming promotion as Executive Chef of the latest Asia de Cuba at the Clift hotel in San Francisco, in 2001.
In 2004, Chef Manso decided to follow her dreams and opened her own restaurant in Marin County, California called “Maria Manso World Cuisine”.  She had always wanted complete creative freedom with the menu and to introduce diners to the different palates of flavors from around the world.  Creating a neighborhood restaurant, Chef Manso received high accolades from critics and a great local following, including her past clients at Asia de Cuba at the Clift in San Francisco.

In May of 2008, Chef Manso sold her restaurant and moved back to Miami to rejoin the China Grill Management team.  In October 2008, Chef Manso took over as Executive Chef of Delano, one of Morgans Hotel Group leading hotels, and oversaw the legendary Blue Door restaurant. Keeping to the Blue Door standards, Chef Manso created new menu items alongside consulting Chef Claude Troisgros.

In November 2009 Chef Maria moved on to explore Italy and Spain as a private chef. In 2010 Chef Manso returned to the US and moved to Key West and was the Executive chef at Bagatlle restaurant for 3 years. In 2013 chef Maria took on the executive chef position at the Pier House Resort and Spa where she continues to create unique and exciting dishes with a Key West twist.