Clay Conley of Azul Restaurant
500 Brickell Key Dr
Miami, FL 33131
At the age of 33, Chef Clay Conley has already logged in two decades of experience in all aspects of the restaurant industry. Conley started washing dishes at age 13, and fell in love with the atmosphere of the kitchen; he eventually found his way into Todd English’s kitchen, and it was all up (and around the world) from there.
During his 10 years with the Olives Group, Conley worked in Boston, Washington DC, Las Vegas, and Tokyo, eventually becoming the culinary director for all 18 of English’s restaurants at age 29. In 2005 he moved to the Mandarin Oriental in Miami and took over Azul, the hotel’s elegant, waterfront fine dining restaurant, where he brings the ingredients and techniques of his global experience together in his eclectic menu.
Conley draws culinary influences from his surroundings (an Indian exchange student living with him inspired his yogurt-marinated swordfish), and nearly every dish has a story behind it. His orchiette nero with conch is a clever and delicious take on orecchiette and sausage, with a touch of the Caribbean and of the sea with tender, flavorful conch and ink-colored orecchiette. His Moroccan-style lamb features a bastilla – a traditional pastry with a savory, spiced filling enclosed by layers of flaky pastry.