Mike Hampton and Christy Samoy at Hot & Soul in Fort LAuderdale

(September 18, 2013)

Name: Christy Samoy

Title: Co-owner

Location: Hot & Soul, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Suite 60B, Fort Lauderdale

Contact: 754-206-2155, HotAndSoul.com


Pictures: Miami Heat fans at the season opener

Age: 39

Time at this location: Seven months

Style of food prepared: Global soul food

Background: They didn't know it when they met at Florida State University in 1992, but Samoy and Mike Hampton were destined to get married and move to New Orleans to attend culinary school together.

A couple of visits to New Orleans during college ignited their passion for "real food," as Samoy calls it, and inspired them to become chefs. Their goal: to own a restaurant together.

After culinary school, Samoy was exposed to Jamaican, Caribbean, Mediterranean, organic and vegetarian cuisine while working there for eight years.

"I loved getting to cook and eat lots of good and spicy food," says Samoy, who was raised by Filipino parents in Lakeland. "In 2005, Katrina hit. Everything was uncertain, and we ended up moving to San Diego. After six years there, we were ready for a change. We were looking for somewhere coastal and sunny, so we packed our things and headed to South Florida in November 2011."

In Fort Lauderdale, she cooked at Foxy Brown, and Hampton at American Social, until they renovated a pizza joint in the plaza at the southwest corner of Oakland Park Boulevard to realize their dream. You'll typically find Samoy greeting guests, while Hampton anchors the kitchen.

Their menu is small, but it's diverse and innovative with selections such as her chicken adobo ($7.50/$15), a rendition of her mother's recipe. Half portions allow you sample as much of their temptations as you want.

Q: Where do you turn for inspiration?

A: We used to go to fine-dining restaurants but then realized that ethnic mom-and-pop restaurants were the places that could really surprise and wow us. Discovering a new hidden gem is always exciting and sparks new ideas.

Q: What's the hardest part of being a chef?

A: Sending out a dish that we feel is the dish as we intended, and the guest just does not like it. But I love when I get to make weird specials that the guests actually appreciate.

Q: What's your most memorable meal?

A: On our 10-year wedding anniversary, Mike picked me up from work. He was wearing a suit. He drove me home and proceeded to cook a ridiculously amazing 11-course meal. The scallop carpaccio was honestly one of the best dishes I've ever had.

Q: What are your two favorite dishes on the menu?

A: The Hunk of Meat pâté because we make everything on the plate, except for the bread, such as the mango paste, grainy mustard and butter pickles ($9), and the Gnaughty Gnocchi because I don't eat it as much as I would like because the handmade gnocchi is so precious ($9/$16).

Q: Which dish would you like to see banned from menus?

A: Fusion egg rolls. Don't get me wrong, I love figuring out how to coat or wrap something and deep-fry it. But I just like it to be done in a cohesive way.

Q: Which ingredient do you feel is underappreciated?

A: Avocado. People see avocado and automatically think guacamole. It isn't used in dessert enough.

Q: What do you consider your all-time masterpiece?

A: I really don't think in those terms. I recently made a biscuit pudding with chocolate, coconut milk, dark roast coffee and local Funky Buddha OP Porter. I love that I was able to find a use for biscuits that would have been thrown away, and I love, love, love cooking with delicious beer.