Our local tastemaker series continues and this month, we’re taking you out for burgers (because what else would we do during National Burger Month?) — where we introduce you to George Patti, chef and co-owner of M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom. Spreading his time between the Keys and Boca Raton, Chef George Patti certainly makes his rounds and he’s recognized by his fans for winning burger contests (see George’s tips on how to make the perfect burger), for his off-the-wall combinations, his signature style (funky socks win every time), his run-ins with culinary celebrities (Celebrity chef Guy Fieri featured Patti on Diner, Drive-Ins and Drives) — and don’t forget his spiked Nutella milkshakes.
Florida Food & Farm took a moment to sit down with Chef George Patti to talk about his first experience in the kitchen, the perfect burger, and what the future holds for him.
Name: Chef George Patti
Restaurant: M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom
Tell us about your first kitchen experience
I started working for my dad in an Italian deli in New Rochelle, New York, when I was in middle school. I remember peeling potatoes and carrots – and chopping up onions. I then got into making homemade sausages, salami and pastrami.
What’s your drink of choice?
Tito’s Vodka with soda and lime.
What about your secret talents, do you have anything that you’re hiding from us?
Actually, growing up, I was really into baseball … I was recruited by the Cincinnati farm team [right out of high school]. My dream was to be a chef, so I followed that path instead.
Do you have any advice for those looking to become a chef or pursue a culinary degree?
Don’t do it. That is, if you want to be underpaid and overworked.
Who’s helped you get to the place your are right now?
My mother was a big inspiration. She always told me that I can do anything I wanted — and she was persistent.
What’s your favorite meal?
I like a little bit of everything — yellowtail snapper and scallops, ceviche and of course, a good steak with red wine.
What’s the story behind M.E.A.T. Eatery & Tap Room?
I had worked for a variety of different concepts including Taster’s Taco Emporium and Taster’s Grille in the Keys, but I was ready for a change. I wanted to open up a meat heavy place in the middle of all the seafood restaurants. Hence, the idea of M.E.A.T. Eatery & Tap Room came to be. Together, with my partner, Tom Smith, we built M.E.A.T., basically from the ground up – we installed the hood, etc. The restaurant opened up in 2012 in Islamorada and in 2014, we opened up our Boca Raton location.
Back to M.E.A.T. Eatery & Tap Room — why should we love the restaurant, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to the restaurant and to you as a chef?
We make all of our own sauces including the ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. We also cure and smoke all of our own meats — and don’t forget our pork rinds.
Is there anything on your agenda that we should know about?
Yes … We’ll be participating in the Boca Burger Battle in Sanborn Square on July 15 and have a dinner planned with Tucker Dukes on June 28. Stay tuned.
You can find Chef George Patti at M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom located at 980 North Federal Highway in Boca Raton and at 88005 Overseas Highway in Islamorada. For more information, visit MEAT online.