Food Festivals

Former Marine Ben Lubin of The Blind Monk Would Drum Truffle Oil Out of The Corps

With more than 300 bottles under his roof (and 35 by the glass offered daily), since opening in August of 2010, The Blind Monk wine and tapas bar in West Palm Beach has garnered a devoted crowd, revelers as far as Miami making the trek to owner Ben Lubin's wine bar hideaway located on a quiet side street a stone's throw from downtown Clematis Street and City Place.

Although Lubin served as a captain in the Marines and Afghanistan for much of the past decade, today you'll find him exploring a different terrain -- especially the Blind Monk's small kitchen, where Lubin displays his newly acquired culinary skills since graduating from New York City's French Culinary Institute. Even so, Lubin credits his overwhelming success to the support of his amazing staff, which includes general manager and sommelier Reese Fisher, and assistant general manager, Jason Hunt.

Lubin makes is number 20 on our Tastemaker list because he's given downtown West Palm Beach a new concept with a relaxed vibe, and helped to make the area that much more hip.

The most influential person in my career has been? Inspector Gadget, who taught me at a very early age to surround myself with people who are smarter and more experienced than me. You are only as good as the people around you.

When I'm alone and in need of comfort, (and no one is there to watch

or judge) the one food or drink I turn to is: Haagen Dazs Coffee Ice Cream straight out of the pint.

What does Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of? Diners who like anchovies.

You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it? Truffle oil. Brussel Sprouts. The trend towards increasingly hoppy and bitter IPAs. I appreciate bitterness, and I love hop aromatics, but a hoppy beer needs a malty backbone.

You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name

and what do you serve? Lilian's. A local blues joint, named after my grandmother. It would have a small southern inspired tapas menu and simple, refined cocktails. Also, a Blind Monk on a leafy street in Brooklyn.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Moving up a couple spots on this list.

Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting? The President, Secretary of State, USAID Administrator, and Secretary of Defense -- so I can tell them what we are doing wrong in Afghanistan. I would love to cook for some great restaurateurs, like Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer, to hear their stories and glean some advice. And my mom, to tell me everything was delicious.

Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna