Sodexo Live! chef heads up 2 new concepts at Miami Beach Convention Center

Samantha Cruz draws on Florida’s melting pot of cuisines for the menus at Rum Room and Venu.
Tableside Tamales
Florida-inspired tamales are served and plated tableside at Rum Room. / Photos courtesy of Sodexo Live!

Rum Room and Venu opened in the historic art deco Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) in April, with Sodexo Live! Executive Chef Samantha Cruz as the culinary force behind each concept.

At Rum Room, an upscale 80-seat restaurant featuring coastal 1920s Florida decor, Cruz’s menu reflects Miami’s Haitian, Latin and Central American influences, and indigenous ingredients such as local corn, Florida River Gold potatoes, tropical fruits and spices.

She also incorporates Spanish ingredients like beans and sofrito, traditional to the cuisine of the Spaniards passing through the area in the early 20th century. An onsite kitchen garden is planted with fresh herbs and produce.

Highlights include jamon Serrano croquetas and black truffle corn tamales presented and served tableside. On the bar menu, classic rum drinks with modern twists tap into the cocktail legacy of Miami Beach.

Rum Room is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and its proximity to the Chamber of Commerce and city office buildings positions it as a go-to spot for power lunches.

“This next chapter of the MBCC and its amazing campus reimagination will further enhance the guest experience of dining and events in Miami Beach,” said Freddie Peterson, general manager of the Miami Beach Convention Center, in a statement. “This fantastic restaurant and private event space will allow flexibility in our food and beverage offerings to the neighborhood, our clients and the public.”

Venu is an intimate event space and bar designed for elegant private parties, cocktail receptions, business meetings, weddings and other upscale events. It occupies a municipal golf course clubhouse built in 1916, just one year after the incorporation of the City of Miami Beach.

cocktailHandcrafted rum cocktails reflect Miami's drink culture of the 1920s. 

The concept has a flexible indoor-outdoor footprint that can hold up to 200 guests. Cruz created custom menus that include handcrafted rum cocktails, flavorful tapas and family-style plates of whole fish, steak, chicken and inventive sides. The food is served on vintage plates under dim lighting, with direct views of Collins Canal. When not used by the MBCC, the general public can reserve a table for Sunday brunch.

“When visitors dine at Rum Room or Venu, I want them to know that Miami is the place to be and something to see and taste,” said Cruz in a statement. “There’s so much diversity, influence and flavor here, and we’ve created menus that allow guests to experience it with every bite.”

Cruz was previously chef de cuisine at PLANTA in Miami Beach and leading chef at events including Super Bowl LIV, the Miami Open and Art Basel Miami Beach.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is jointly operated by Sodexo Live! and OVG360, a venue management company.



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