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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On the waterside of Brickell Bay Drive is Obra Kitchen Table, a bright and cheery neighborhood restaurant manned by award winning chef and owner Carlos Garcia.

Chef Carlos cooked in world class kitchens in Europe before opening his restaurant in Caracas, Venezuela that has him pegged as one of the most outstanding chefs in Latin America.

He opened Obra Kitchen Table in May and it’s all about that big center kitchen table.

“The kitchen table has an important place in the restaurant. I think the big tables are important because you can drink a beer, have sandwich and share with everybody. You can meet new people. It happens every day,” said Chef Carlos.

With bright colors and soft woods, Obra is inviting and joyful.

Every monitor on the wall has pictures of Venezuelan people smiling, something Garcia and the designer insisted on.

“He sent to us all of those pictures and the architect and I said the idea is everyone has to be smiling. It’s a tough time but we have to be smiling,” he explained.

There aren’t too many smiles in his own country these days, where there is much political unrest and hunger.

Chef Carlos knew he had to get involved. That’s where his chicken soup, served with homemade arepas comes in.

“It’s chicken, onion carrots and potatoes, it’s like mamas chick soup,” he said describing some of the ingredients.

A portion of every bowl of soup sold at Obra benefits 250 starving school children, teachers and the elderly in Caracas.

Garcia also participates in the Recipes for Change once a month, where he and guest chefs provide meals for more than 250 homeless people at Camillus House.

He’ll be serving meals there next week on Thanksgiving Day.

“We know we can help. The idea is to help the other ones if you help one person very day, one step at a time, you’re going to make a big difference,” he said.

Back in the kitchen, Garcia prepares a host of Latin American inspired dishes and cocktails for CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo. First up the wahoo tiradito with pineapple rum topped with crunchy kale.

“It’s so interesting. I’ve had a lot of turaduto but I’ve never had so many different unique flavors that bring it together so nicely, and the kale adds crunch,” said Petrillo.

They taste a pork shank served with carrot purée that’s simply fall off the bone tender and a spectacular corn and avocado risotto made with nuts, mushrooms  and a bit of Parmesan.

“Do you like it?” asked Chef.

“Wow. I could take a bowl and bring it home right now,” said Petrillo.

They end the meal on a dessert that’s dangerously delicious called Toxic Chocolate.

Obra Kitchen Table is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. On Saturday’s its dinner only.

For more info: www.obramiami.com

Lisa Petrillo

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