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Sodexo Live! appoints Mitchell Doren as General Manager of Rum Room and Venu

Executive Chef Samantha Cruz.

Mitchell Doren will oversee and manage day-to-day operations at the newest restaurant and event space located on the Miami Beach Convention Center Campus.

MIAMI BEACH, FL – The Rum Room and Venu, Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC)’s new restaurant and event space – jointly managed and operated by hospitality partner Sodexo Live! and leading full-service venue management company OVG360 – announce the appointment of Sodexo Live!’s Mitchell Doren as General Manager. Doren brings over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, with a proven track record of increasing revenue and profits through innovation and guest satisfaction.

As General Manager, Doren will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Rum Room's operations, including menu engineering and development, developing relationships with vendors and partners, and implementing programs to drive growth and success. He will also be instrumental in training and promoting talent within the team.

"Mitchell is a highly-skilled member of the Sodexo Live! team, and we’re thrilled to have him on board for the anticipated opening of Rum Room and Venu," said Danny Medina, Regional Vice President, Sodexo Live!. "His experience and expertise in the food and beverage industry, combined with his passion for guest services, make him the perfect fit to lead the team and ensure Rum Room and Venu is a success from the start."

Doren is a certified Sommelier and has a depth of knowledge in multi-unit, high-volume hospitality management, licensing and branding, and developing and executing special events. He is also proficient in the use of the latest technologies and analytics systems.

"I’m thrilled to join the Rum Room and bring a unique new dining experience, alongside a group of visionary culinarians, to this historic building," said Doren. "I look forward to introducing Rum Room to the vibrant Miami culinary scene and creating an unforgettable dining experience for our guests."

Executive Chef Samantha Cruz to lead
As the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) gets ready to unveil two new restaurant and event spaces, Rum Room and Venu, Sodexo Live! – the official caterer of MBCC – is announce new culinary leadership. As executive chef of these concepts, both located in the 1916-built historic Clubhouse, Samantha Cruz will bring 12 years of experience in fine dining and sports entertainment hospitality to what will soon become Miami Beach’s most talked-about venues.

A third-generation Miamian, Cruz developed a passion for cooking at a young age. The eldest of nine siblings, she was raised in Allapattah by a single mother and was often tasked with cooking lunch for her brothers and sisters. To keep it interesting, Cruz experimented with different flavors and ingredients from her family’s roots: Cuba, Peru, Dominican Republic, and St. Croix.

“I would see a lot of my grandma’s cooking – she was the type to cook in a pit of fire with a pot that’s bigger than the table,” Cruz says. “She would go to the backyard and pick caña, and I would run around with that in my mouth. Even with limited resources, we had a lot of ingredients and a lot of cultures."

When Cruz graduated from high school, she got a job as a restaurant food runner, and everything fell into place. Fast-forward to today, and she’s worked as Executive Sous Chef at hospitality powerhouses like 50 Eggs (Swine, Yardbird, and Kong River House) and Grove Bay Group (Big Easy and Glass and Vine), and was Chef de Cuisine at PLANTA in Miami Beach. Since joining Sodexo Live! four years ago, Cruz created menus and cooked for tens of thousands of guests at major events like the Super Bowl LIV, Miami Open, Art Basel Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl Food & Wine Festival, Seattle Mariners’ opening day at T-Mobile Park, and more.

“Nothing feels more natural to me than being in the kitchen,” says Cruz. “I will never do anything other than cook and make people happy. It’s my love language.”

At Rum Room, a 60-seat restaurant with tropical, 1920s Florida decor, Cruz will create an upscale menu inspired by traditional Miami dishes and South Florida’s Caribbean roots. Along with infusing indigenous Florida ingredients into every dish – like local corn, Florida River Gold potatoes, and other produce or spices found in Redlands farms and its farmers’ markets – Cruz will add a touch of history. Dishes at Rum Room will incorporate typical Spanish ingredients like beans and sofritos, a byproduct of Spaniards passing through Miami Beach in the early 20th century, along with the Haitian, Latin, and Central American influences of Cruz and her kitchen team. When it opens in late 2022, guests can enjoy menu highlights like jamón Serrano croquetas, black truffle corn tamales cut, and plated table-side.

At Venu, an event space, Cruz will develop custom menus for cocktail parties, business meetings, weddings, bat or bar mitzvahs, and more. Separate waterfront outdoor seating will offer guests a sophisticated haunt to sip on a handcrafted rum cocktail, indulge in flavorful tapas, and enjoy family-style servings of whole fish, steak, chicken, and specially-created sides.

“We’re going to use Florida ingredients to make Florida food to make Florida people happy,” says Cruz. “When guests come to Rum Room or Venu, I want them to feel seen, heard, and understood. There’s so much diversity, influence, and flavor here. I want them to know that the culture of Miami is important and that Miami is a place to be and something to see and taste.”

The Rum Room & Venu will open early 2023.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.