Over croquetas and cafecito Kiko Suarez shares the memories of his father’s cooking. Gesturing with his hands as he speaks, Kiko describes the Cuban tradition of slaughtering and roasting a pig. While it sounds gruesome, it was moments like these that developed a love of family, food, and a keen ability to recognize the makings of great restaurant.
Strong Television Background
Miami has gotten to know Kiko well on his segment “Que Riko Con Kiko” and through social media. But before he came into the limelight, he already had years of experience under his belt.
Kiko always knew that he wanted to work on television and landing an internship working with CBS Sports at nineteen years old, gave him an advantage in the industry. Kiko eventually graduated from Florida International University in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and went on to work with all the major news channels in Miami – Channel 7, NBC, and eventually Telemundo.
Eventually, Kiko noticed there was a void in television of journalists covering Miami’s restaurant scene. He went on to produce “A La Carta” which was eventually sponsored by Goya. Then, in 2015, Kiko recognized yet another void. He wanted to be able to be the one interviewing the chefs. He wanted to to “go into the kitchen by himself and be himself” on a show where he could say what he wants. And that was exactly what he got when his segment “Que Riko Con Kiko” was approved with the caveat that he’d always be himself on the air.
When asked about his support system, Kiko names his wife as his biggest supporter. Married 10 years, he says “My wife is the backbone of everything that I do”. Kiko isn’t just a professional food journalist and celebrity, he’s also an active parent and devoted husband. It’s this very sense of family, this same man who cries when his son hits a home run, that seeps into the relationships he builds with the restaurateurs that he collaborates with.
We asked Kiko what aspect of his job he appreciates the most; to our surprise, it wasn’t the food. Kiko loves “meeting new people and making new friendships”. Kiko is all about being authentic on camera, which explains why it’s common to see him greet the chefs on his show with a hug. He is adamant about helping small business. So, he regularly interviews and shares about up-and-coming restaurants in West Kendall.
With recent collaborations with Sanguich De Miami and Ball and Chain, Kiko has chosen Calle Ocho to add to his list of Kiko-approved places to visit in Miami. Why? He says “Calle Ocho is growing! There’s been a rebirth.”
Changing the Game
Kiko also recognizes a clear shift in media. Now someone in his role must recruit, interview, and produce content in order to stay relevant in the industry. Which is why when asked what makes him stand out amongst other foodie influencers and food journalists, he says “Everybody tries to do this, but not everybody knows how to do it”. Kiko admits that to stay relevant, his content must be exactly what his audience demands without any gimmicks or superficiality. He strives to stay in the know about what his audience is interested in, with the goal of getting viewers and followers to look at his content for “more than just a second”. To do this, Kiko “picks the right spots, works with the right people, and knows what people like”.
Finally, Kiko ends with advice to any restaurant starting out – “My advice would be do your best to make sure the ingredients are the best, that you’re putting your love into it, because if you don’t, everyone’s going to notice.” Clearly this is his own approach to his work. Kiko Suarez’s authenticity is evident on and off camera. Just like his father, Kiko is at the end of the day just a “family guy that loves good food”.
In the spirit of the holiday season Kiko has his own donut by the name of #kikoklaus available at Mojo Donuts for the month of December go get yours today!
Written by Lia Seirotti