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 traditional Spanish and Caribbean
style cuisine for her large family.
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 later would become Executive Chef.
After 5 years at China Grill Miami, in 2000, she began 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.
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.
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 oversees the legendary
Blue Door restaurant. Keeping to the Blue Door standards, Chef Manso has created
new menu items alongside consulting Chef Claude Troisgros.