Chef Winston Guerrero has had the fortune of cooking in many corners of the globe. But when the opportunity came to join Cobalt in Vero Beach as executive chef, he saw it as a “blessing”. “I’ve been doing this a long time and you always try to figure out where you belong,” he says.
The Colombia native moved to the US when he was five, among the first wave of Colombian immigrants in the mid-1960s that would eventually settle in Rhode Island. His journey took off in earnest via a summer culinary program at Johnson & Wales University. The community course sparked a passion for food & cooking—one that would lead to four years of service in the military, a Corporal rank in the military (Marine Corps and Army), and stints cooking all over the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean.
Establishing his diverse background further, he found himself cooking in Gatlinburg, TN at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains before transitioning into his own spot in New England where he experienced the highs and lows of restaurant ownership. In mid-2018, he chose the sunny Florida coastline and moved to the dual-restaurant executive chef position at the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa.
“This is really a hotel that concentrates as a restaurant,” he says. “I have (plenty of) leeway and it’s a win-win for everyone.” Winston brings a self-described “inspirational and traditional” style to the menu at Cobalt and Heaton’s Reef, which brings New England seafood sensibilities to the laid back Treasure Coast. “Every day becomes a challenge for what we want to showcase,” he adds.
What he is showcasing, however, is a variety of collaborations and specials that come from his globetrotting background and diverse style of his culinary staff. The recipe below comes from Argentina’s gaucho country—a testament to Winston’s signature approach. “It combines the European and Latin styles I’ve been exposed to throughout my career,” he says.
Next time you’re visiting Vero Beach, check out some of Chef Winston’s local recommendations:
- Favorite Dive Bar: Bungalow Bar (2855 Ocean Dr B3, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Coffee Spot: Rio Coco (3300 43rd Ave #3, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Date Night Restaurant: CC’s Place (482 US-1 Suite 5, Sebastian)
- Favorite for Ice Cream: Cravings (3149 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Bike Shop: Orchid Island Bikes & Kayaks (1175 Commerce Ave, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Soul Food: 14 Bones (1500 US-1, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Craft Drinks: Southern Social (1932 14th Ave, Vero Beach)
Matambre (Argentinian Stuffed Flank Steak)
- 1 1/2 to 2-pound flank steak
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- Optional: 1/2 cup large green olives
- Lay flank steak flat on a cutting board and carefully slice it in half horizontally almost all the way, cutting in the same direction as the fibers.
- Open the steak up like a book, and lay flat.
- Squeeze lime juice over the steak and sprinkle with black pepper, kosher salt, oregano and minced garlic.
- Use a meat tenderizing hammer to pound meat until it’s flattened and evenly thick and in the approximate shape of a rectangle. The grain of the meat should run parallel to the long side of the rectangle.
- Lay the spinach leaves over the meat, leaving 1 to 2 inches of one long side uncovered. Sprinkle the cheese over the spinach.
- Peel the carrots and slice them into quarters lengthwise.
- Lay the carrots over the spinach, in the direction of the meat fibers.
- Cut the peppers into strips and spread them over the spinach.
- Cut the eggs into wedges and distribute pieces over the spinach.
- Add the olives, if using.
- Carefully roll up the flank steak with the vegetables inside, rolling from one long side to the other, and tie the roll up securely with kitchen twine.
- Season the outside with salt and pepper.
- Wrap the stuffed flank steak tightly with foil, and place it directly on the coals.
- Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on desired doneness.
- Unwrap and let cool, then slice crosswise into thin slices to serve.
- Brown the flank steak roll in a large stockpot over medium-high heat in a little bit of olive oil, until well browned on all sides.
- Add 2 cups red wine and enough water (or beef broth) to cover the meat. Simmer gently until meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Drain and cool, then slice crosswise into thin slices to serve.
- Matambre slices easiest after it has cooled some, and can be served at room temperature with a salad as an appetizer or starter course.
- Serve with chimichurri sauce, or with a sauce made from the wine cooking liquid, if desired.