hef Pous began his formal culinary training at age 17 and regularly spent time cooking with fresh ingredients and working on the local farms. He developed his technical skills at the Sergio Perez Government School of the Culinary Arts in Havana, Cuba ~ often cooking for foreign dignitaries and local celebrities. Chef Pous earned his first Executive Chef position at the age of 21, at the renowned boutique hotel Chateau Miramar in Havana, an experience that would place him in good standing for his dream to move to America.
Pous recalls, “My culinary inspirations stem from my family’s passion for cooking, my Cuban culture and my experience growing up on an island. When I was nine, I would come home from school during afternoon breaks to heat up meals that my mother prepared and left for my brother and myself.” One day, he was put to the test when his mother accidentally forgot to leave out the prepared meals. He could not stand the idea of his older brother not eating a good meal and took matters into his own hands. “I asked family friends and neighbors for any spare ingredients and ended up making an amazing meal with the rice, beans and croquettes that I was able to collect and forage.” A chef was born.
Chef Pous moved to the United States in 1997, cooking at the wildly popular Big Fish Restaurant on the Miami River in the gritty downtown area of Miami. Pous was quickly promoted to Chef within the year, hosting parties for the likes of Madonna, Versace, Ricky Martin and an after-party for the Rolling Stones that locals are still talking about. Pous’ unfamiliarity with the English language and the desire to move to a bigger stage, led him to move to Atlanta, the only place in the country where he had friends and family.
In 1999, Pous was introduced to his greatest culinary influence to date, Raymond Saja. This change introduction, by a friend of a friend who was a steward at the Renaissance, Atlanta, was a significant moment in his life. Pous recalls “I couldn’t speak a word of English. My ‘interview’ was a cooking test. When I was offered the job of line cook, I was so excited I didn’t even know how much I would be making! I may have been told, but I wouldn’t have understood anyway!” Pous and Saja cooked together for the next two years. Their communication started through pictures and pantomime that developed into a synchronized understanding where Saja practiced his Spanish and Pous practiced his English.
Chef Saja moved back home to New York City, and Pous carried on as Chef de Cuisine in Atlanta. In 2000, he moved to New York City to be reunited with his mentor at Daniel Bouloud’s first kitchen at the Hotel Plaza Athenee, New York. Together Chef Pous and Saja earned numerous reviews including 3 Stars from the New York Observer, one star review from the New York Times, Top 50 Hotel restaurants in the world by Conde Nast and the ‘Number One’ brunch in New York City from the New York Times.
In 2001, tragedy struck New York City and Chef Pous moved to Miami to be closer to his Cuban roots and family as Executive Sous Chef of the prestigious Turnberry Isle Resort and Club operated by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. During his tenure at Turnberry, Pous prepared a James Beard dinner, and contributed his time and energy to numerous charities, hosting the Mango Kings, Taste of the Nation and Share Our Strength events.
After 2 years at Turnberry, Pous wanted to round out his resume and took the Executive Sous Chef job with the MGM Casino group at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Pous was responsible for seven outlets. “The Beau Rivage was by far and away the biggest job of my career to date,” says Pous. “The operation was quite spectacular and from a management standpoint, I think I learned the most there” Tragedy struck again in the form of Hurricane Katrina, who all but destroyed the Food and Beverage operation. Pous stayed for the next four months to help contribute to the rebuilding of the local community, giving his service and time to help feed those in need. Again, he moved back to South Florida to accept his first Executive Chef position.
As Executive Chef for the exclusive 30-room, luxury resort since 2006, Chef Pous and his team are responsible for creating and executing the ever-changing menus of The Dining Room. Diners can enjoy memorable meals in the magical surroundings of a fire lit beach, on their yachts, or in their bungalows.
Chef Pous now has the perfect canvas to work with, “being so close to Cuba, and in this environment inspires me everyday to create and bring something new and vibrant to the Dining Room”
Chef Pous’ introduced his own style of vibrant cuisine pairing Pan-Latin ingredients with French techniques. Pous developed his love for the French aspect of cooking after spending time at the world renowned Le Cinq Restaurant at the George V Hotel in Paris and from his Culinary School days in his native Cuba.
For the past two years, Cuban-born Luis Pous has been the Executive Chef of one Southern Florida’s most sought after dining destinations, The Dining Room at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. In this short time, Chef Pous has managed to secure the restaurant’s “No. 3” ranking in the country in Zagat, and No.1 in Florida for hotel restaurants.