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The daughter of an Argentine-Jewish mother and a father with Italian-Jewish roots and a former ballerina and honors graduate from Johnson & Wales University, she has drawn widespread acclaim for her culinary skills. She took over the restaurant Azul at the Mandarin Oriental in 2001, and was lauded for her sophisticated haute cuisine by Esquire Magazine food critic John Mariani, who dubbed it "the best new restaurant in America.
Bernstein was previously a co-host of the Food Network series Melting Pot and was once in a battle on Iron Chef America versus Bobby Flay, from which she emerged victorious. She has since appeared on numerous shows, including as a guest judge on Top Chef. She also continues to host her PBS weekly television series, Check, Please! South Florida and is a regular guest on multiple national television shows, including The Today Show, the Martha Stewart Show, and Univision Network’s top-rated morning show, Despierta America.
In 2005, Bernstein and her husband, David Martinez, became business partners and left Azul to open Michy's together in Miami. Gourmet Magazine declared it one of the "Top 50 restaurants in the country" and Food & Wine Magazine dubbed it "Best New Restaurant 2006".
Their third restaurant arrived in 2008, called SRA. Martinez, an eclectic tapas restaurant in the Miami Design District. In 2009, SRA. Martinez was dubbed one of the "Best New Restaurants in America" by food critic John Mariani in Esquire Magazine. They are currently planning their fourth venture together, Michelle Bernstein, a new restaurant to open in Fall 2009. Bernstein has also opened a Miami chapter of Common Threads, a program designed to inspire culinary prowess in underprivileged children ages 8–11. It's an after-school program that meets weekly and instills in youngsters the importance of balanced, nutritious meals. Bernstein said in a 2011 interview, with Aventura Business Monthly, that many of the kids she mentors are fortunate to get "fast food" for dinner most nights.
In 2009, Bernstein opened two new restaurants at the Omphoy Ocean Resort, in Palm Beach, Florida. In addition to her two restaurants, Michelle Bernstein's and MB Terrace, she also provides services for In-Room dining, and Weddings, and Special Events.
In September 2010 she debuted her own cookware line on HSN called michelleB Forged Aluminum. In 2011, Michelle opened Crumb on Parchment, a cozy cafe in the heart of the Miami Design District.
She is also the mentor of Top Chef season 9 contestant Lindsay Autry.