key west first legal rum distillery

Chef Paul Menta

Paul J. Menta arrived in Key West over thirty years ago, after graduating from culinary school in Philadelphia and honing his cooking and philosophy skills traveling throughout Europe and Latin America. However, as Key West does to most who visit, the funky, quirky, and proudly weird island changed Paul. Even better, it allowed him to become the person he was meant to be.

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My Story

It’s not easy to define Paul Menta. Paul arrived in Key West over thirty years ago, after graduating from culinary school in Philadelphia and traveling throughout much of Europe and Latin America to hone his cooking skills and philosophy. Paul arrived in Key West as a young chef with an honest style.


With an unwavering commitment to fresh and sustainable, with a promising future, Key West provided his culinary curiosity with a landscape to run wild. He began spearfishing to better understand the species local to his new home, that would become staples of his menus. He founded Cuban Coffee Queen, he co-founded Amigo's Three Hands Fish, a sustainable seafood market, to ensure that his restaurant, in addition to all other island restaurants and community members, always had access to fresh, local seafood; and finally he founded Key West Legal Rum, the first and only distillery in Key West. With Key West Legal Rum, his goal was to create a signature distillation process and to provide the Island and Key West restaurants with locally-made rum.

Paul attributes time spent in Latin America, just prior to arriving in Key West, as being his most culinarily transformative. Living with host families, he learned from town elders the importance of going direct-to-source to best understand ingredients and build dishes – be they local fishermen, farmers, or even grandmas with centuries-old family recipes. This philosophy was put into motion upon Paul’s arrival to Key West.


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Contact Chef Paul Menta

Between distilling and cooking, I answer emails.