February 11, 2013 | 6:21am
Sweetwater Executive Chef Alberto Diaz has always enjoyed cooking. Originally from Puerto Rico, he was always looking to perfect his craft at home, preparing standard Latin cuisine for his family.
"I was always trying to make the perfect mofongo
, the best braised pork shoulder, or the quinitessential rice and beans," Diaz said.
It never occurred to him that one day he'd switch from a career in communications to becoming a full-time professional chef.
Diaz's kitchen career began at Apicius in Lantana, a high-end Italian eatery that closed in late 2011. His passion grew alongside chef Mario Molliere -- a French-born chef who has cooked for a three-star Michelin restaurant -- from whom Diaz learned to cook like the best of them.
Today, Diaz executes dishes that balance flavor, texture and color to match the hand-crafted cocktails served alongside his food at Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Boynton Beach.
However, to match the creativity and complexity of the hand-crafted cocktails served at the Sweetwater bar, Diaz has decided to implement a more ambitious menu that's set to debut in the coming weeks. Why? If you already know about Sweetwater, the last thing you really think about when headed there is the food.
All that's about to change thanks to Diaz's plans, however. Thankfully, he already works with a small prep and kitchen area, which means many of his dishes are made with ingredients sourced or bought locally, and delivered fresh daily. He most enjoys working with locally-caught fish and unique spices, many of which are based on the traditional Latin flavors he loves.
Right now, many of the menu items have been given a significant overhaul, including the house specialties and signature dishes. He says he's adding more to everything. More flavor. More color. More food. Take the signature lobster mac 'n cheese, now served with a richer three-cheese sauce and whole-tail South Florida lobster. Another update: the famous pulled pork tacos, seasoned with Diaz's own spice rub, and topped with a new Asian-style slaw.
Most notably, Diaz will soon be incorporating molecular gastronomy, the "modern" style of cooking that uses food science to create surprising new eats like jelly-like arugula spaghetti, cheese-flavored foams, and watermelon "caviar."
"The drinks are so full of flavor, so colorful -- they need food to match," Diaz told Clean Plate Charlie. "I want these dishes to not only taste good, but look good, too."
And what of Sweetwater's beloved cocktail creations? They've been updated, as well. A revamped menu features only a few of the bar's best sellers, and a journal-like listing of the various barrel-aged drinks and small-batch liquors available in seasonal and standard varities.