Secreto Gourmet, Key Biscayne’s newest restaurant, serves “real homemade food” that is all natural and all made from scratch daily.
Secreto wants to provide new meal alternatives to the island and does not have a menu defined by geography, but rather serves an international menu, all prepared from healthier alternatives. Co-owner Catalina Marín says Secreto’s goal is to alimentar sanamente a la familia (to feed the family in a healthy way). They even offer a healthy kids meal choice, including chicken, rice and broccoli. All of Secreto’s dishes include a vegetable.
Their most popular items reflect this. For breakfast, their Huevos Catalina present a healthier alternative to the traditional eggs benedict, with avocado and a whole-wheat English muffin. For lunch, their kelp noodles are a much healthier alternative to pasta. Their exclusive healthy desert? A delicious raw vegan brownie made with dates, organic cocoa and berries, absent flour or sugar. They also have a green focus and avoid using plastic and paper – unless is recycled – as much as possible.
Catalina and Sebastian invite you to try Secreto. They are located next to Winn-Dixie at 600 Crandon Boulevard, suite 130 Their phone is 786-536-9113. Their summer hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. They are closed on Sundays.
Name: Catalina Marín and Sebastian Lopez
Current job: Co-owners of Secreto Gourmet
Question: Where were you born?
Answer: We were both born in Santiago, Chile. Of our three kids, Sebastian (10) was born in Chile and our daughters Florencia (8) and Olivia (5) were born in Switzerland. Moreover, we have a fourth on the way who will obviously be born here in Key Biscayne.
Q: Where do you live now?
A: For the last 3 and a half years we have resided in Key Biscayne.
Q: How did you get your start in the culinary industry?
A: Catalina says she and Sebastian were students at Universidad de los Andes in Chile when they met, and he has always had a love for the kitchen and cooking. Once they graduated, he worked as a commodities trader for a Swiss company and was eventually transferred to Switzerland. There, Sebastian says, he learned to love the healthier side of eating, very low to no sugar and heavy vegetables. “While abroad, my job took me traveling three weeks out of the month, so for family reasons, I resigned and decided to move to Key Biscayne, an area we vacationed at frequently.” Catalina chimed in; “We always talked about living here. When we arrived, the idea to do something we loved took over and after forming a group of investors we settled on the idea to open Secreto Gourmet as a healthy alternative for the island.”
Q: What is your “secret to success?”
A: We are novices at running a restaurant but think the key for us will be to be totally dedicated and involved in all details of the restaurant. We spent three years getting to know the Key Biscayne dining scene and learned that a true healthy eating option with una verdadera cocina casera (authentic home cooking) was missing, thus Secreto. We treat our food as it if comes from our own kitchen, using only the best of natural ingredients, cooked daily. We also priced our items to be in line with everything else being served in the island.
Q: What’s your proudest moment in your career?
A: When we were married and then the birth of each of our kids. Sebastian says he is also proud of Secreto Gourmet’s ongoing financial support to Fundacion Miradas Compartidas, a nonprofit organization working to improve quality of life for adolescents with intellectual disabilities through entertainment and recreation activities. He invites everyone to learn more about them at https://www.micompartidas.com.
Q: Any funny or embarrassing stories you can share?
A: Sebastian laughed and showed his right hand wrapped in a wet towel; he had burnt his hand in the kitchen earlier in the day! Catalina chimed in, relating stories from Friday, June 29, when with access to the Key was cut off from Miami due to a police incident. Very few businesses were open. Since they live close by, Sebastian started cooking a limited menu and they served breakfast to many customers who were looking around for places that were opened. They sold out of almost everything! At one point, a local police officer stopped by to look for a sandwich, and when he mentioned that many cops were tired from the long shift, Sebastian sent him 10 additional sandwiches. Catalina also recalled that she went to check on her children, who were attending a local camp that had 20-plus kids with little to eat. She came back, made a large lasagna and took it back so the kids could eat a warm lunch.
Q: What do you love most about your career?
A: “The interaction with customers,” Sebastian said. “I love every single interaction, to cook the meal, serve it, and wait on the customers.” Catalina said they wanted to create a nice homey environment. She recalled when Father JC (St. Agnes Pastor Father Juan Carlos) came to bless Secreto before they opened, he suggested to make Secreto a place where they created peace of mind, something Catalina said she and Sebastian are totally committed to.
Q: If you had to choose one meal, what would it be?
A: Without hesitation, Sebastian said Huevos Catalina (Catalina’s Eggs), which is Secreto’s most popular breakfast entree. It is a healthy take on eggs benedict with poached egg, avocado, a whole-wheat muffin and homemade hollandaise sauce. Catalina would opt for Secreto’s Kelp Noodles.
Q: What is your favorite junk food or comfort food?
A: Sebastian said pasta, any kind, and lasagna with meat sauce. Catalina said she loves pizza with mozzarella and feta cheese and vegetables. She makes one with cauliflower dough that is a delicious alternative. Her kids love anything Italian.
Q: Is there any food you absolutely don’t like?
A: Catalina said she is not too adventurous with meats, like sausages and the like. Sebastian said that since he traveled so much, he has eaten just about everything.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Both Catalina and Sebastian said simultaneously that they love to play tennis but love all outdoor sports and the beach and spending time with the kids. While not doing much now during her pregnancy, Catalina loves to jog.
Q: What’s your favorite part about working in Key Biscayne?
A: Sebastian said that where he lives, works and sends his kids to school are all within 500 meters, together with the high quality of life. Catalina said they rarely leave the island. She loves that her daily transportation is on her golf cart!
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A Catalina said people are surprised that this is their first restaurant. She goes on to say that since the process to open took so long, over one year, they had time to plan every detail, wanting to do things right. She wanted the restaurant to look and feel like it was her house.
Q: What’s your advice for someone just starting in your profession?
A Sebastian laughs, “Do not open a restaurant!” However, seriously, he continued, be prepared and count on the fact just about everything will take longer so plan well, pay close attention to all details. He also suggested you surround yourself with people who will truly support you.