MGFD Brunch at 5 Years | Respect the Savory

We started celebrating 5 years of Genuine Brunch with dessert first, and now the savory team will give our pastry dream team a run for its money!

As you know, this special meal occurs once a week at Michael’s flagship and it is all about nostalgia… bringing back classics to the menu, with a genuine twist. Sitting at the top of the menu are small plates, which of course can be consumed with sweets simultaneously. The instant classics include kimchi benedict and crispy rice cake topped with a sunny side up egg. To our Chef de Cuisine, Niven Patel, brunch now means chilaquiles, too! Housemade tortilla chips are topped with salsa verde, queso fresco, cilantro, tomatoes, and a spicy cream sauce. It’s a fire party in your mouth. In fact, they are Sous-Chef Jason Arroyo’s favorite dish to make at Brunch.

Jason has worked our Brunch service for 2 years now, per TGHG Executive Chef Bradley Herron‘s request. Brunch is a way for chefs to explore their creativity and learn how to operate the MGFD kitchen effectively at its most intense pace all week.

“…Brunch is a perfect outlet to manage this kitchen”, admits Jason. Brunch can make or break you in short.

It’s an opportunity for growth due the sheer number of dishes and the flexibility of the menu. Our chilaquiles recipe is Jason’s own and calls for roasted vegetables such as the habanero peppers and tomatoes, leading to a smoky and spicy version of the traditional Mexican dish. This dish makes an appearance often due to popular guest demand (and employee demand if you ask me!) Not only does Jason love to please the audience, but he likes munching on some chilaquiles after making them.

Guest feedback factors into the brunch mix as well. Like our Executive Pastry Chef, Hedy Goldsmith, Jason walks the line between sweet and savory, evidenced by waffle topped with short rib, or taking the fried dough of a doughnut and glazing it with tangy goat cheese. In fact, he reaches out to Hedy in those instances for tips! Despite the playfulness of blurring the line, sweets require measurement, accuracy and patience.

Daniel Ramirez, recently over at Harry’s as Chef de Cuisine but a longtime cook at Genuine always called on Latin classics such as chicharrones and tostones for inspiration.

With our recent renovations and the addition of the raw bar, Brunch has evolved for the better because oysters and champagne are perfect for brunch! Further our brunch regulars can enjoy crudo, ceviche and stone crabs in addition to our traditional dishes, like the breakfast pizza. Brunch is a cultural melting pot and a flavor explosion at once, according to Chef Niven and the raw bar completes us.

Despite all the fun that comes with eating brunch, the preparation process is no joke. As early as the previous week, the chefs begin to think of potential ideas as a third of the savory dishes must be changed weekly, at the very least. By Wednesday of that week, a menu is drafted so that chefs may begin testing dishes. And on Sunday morning, chefs and cooks come in at 7am to get ready for battle. Hundreds and hunderds of small plates fly out of our miniscule kitchen within four mere hours, all so that you can enjoy Brunch the way it was meant to be. The Genuine way.

Want to see our first all staff tasting of brunch EVER? Check out our Flickr album to really flash back to Saturday, October 24, 2009, the day before our first Sunday Brunch service. TGIF and see you Sunday!

Northern Exposure | Growing Season Update with Farm to Kitchen

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Padin out back of Farm to Kitchen’s new distribution center in Little Haiti.

Sure enough, blue graffiti above an open, barred gate marked the spot. A fitting tag for the entrance to Farm to Kitchen’s brand new — and I mean new-car-smell-new — warehouse facility in Little Haiti. Chris Padin found the unassuming location on 54th street just east of North Miami Avenue through a friend and chose it over one to the north in Oakland Park.  Mere minutes from the Design District and central to his farm runs and customer routes, the decision was a smart one.

“People get lost with the unmarked door,” he explained, as I made my way for an early evening visit last week as we were both wrapping up business for the day.  “It’s next to the Western Union.”

Whether or not people can find him is beside the point. As the owner/operator of a local distribution company specializing in produce from small family farms, Padin’s job is to find them.  This season is a special one for him and partner Aleli Lauria. From her seeds first sewn at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink leading the reservations department and gardening at home on the side have sprouted some four years later a solid business, connecting a handful of South Florida restaurants with its best and brightest small farmers.

This latest move is a game changer for Farm to Kitchen, effectively doubling its capacity and reach to receive product from suppliers like Worden Farm in Punta Gorda. Customers can still expect their usual day-of or day-after harvest delivery.  Padin has also hired longtime MGFD busser Christopher Caballero who staged with him last season as a part time delivery driver. Padin will continue to focus on growing the business, making farm runs and forging relationships with growers.  On my visit bathroom renovation work was in full swing and the first ingredients – like a box of blue oyster mushrooms from Sublicious Farms – were in the new walk-in cooler. They took over the space a month ago and share it with another local start-up, Jucy Lu’s, which figures into the plan. Farm to Kitchen‘s farm share program will soon offer a selection of cold-pressed, organic juices produced out of the facility using the same fresh ingredients Padin sources for the wholesale side of the business.

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The next day it was time to get down to business to meet some of the newer customers to the Farm to Kitchen portfolio and consequently, to our genuine kitchens. We know and love many familiar faces down south, so naturally we set our sites north to meet some new ones, namely Harpke Family Farm in Dania Beach, specializing in fruits, vegetables and microgreens and Sublicious Farms in Oakland Park, producer of high quality organic mushrooms.  Padin was on one of his twice-weekly farm runs, and Harry’s Pizzeria chef Danny Ramirez and I were along for the ride.

“They’re cute but I’m trying to run a business here,” said Tamer Harpke, as siblings Chica and Pedro gave us a warm welcome to Harpke Family Farm’s 1 acre plot right off I-95.  “We want to roll with 4 or 5 key accounts.  We are looking for distribution with key chefs that want to work with the product and are committed. We’re developing a mix that at lets us service fine dining while at the same time trying to service the CSA community.”

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A cluster of Sublicious Farm’s blue oyster mushrooms in the “pin” stage. So cute!

Padin is in lockstep with this approach, which is key for this relationship to function properly. “The thing that I look for is the consistency of supply. Without that, I have go out and look for it elsewhere, or for something else. Tamer is a step ahead. He has an idea of what restaurants are looking for to begin with, which makes our job a lot easier.”

Only a short walk through the property and it was clear his supply is well on its way, including mature-at-harvest greens like mustard, lime mizuna and lacinato kale, radishes including French breakfast, and micro herbs and greens of all kinds like opal basil, amaranth and carrot. If his back-from-the-dead rows of dragonfruit are any indication, this first season is going to be a good start for this 6 month old operation.  Just watch out for falling coconuts.

“We’ll be doing tomatoes. Everybody wants tomatoes,” Harpke explained.  “I’ve been growing them since I was young.  It’s not easy to grow in an outdoor format but if you prune them and treat them like your babies you can get a lot of fruit out of them. We’ll be looking at a greenhouse and hydroponics in the future.”

Check out what’s in store for their CSA and farm credit program at Harpke’s open house on November 9 where there will also be a “keg of beer and maybe some wine!”

Our second and last stop before seeing Padin off to Homestead for the afternoon was Sublicious Farms, an experience far from the familiar.  I don’t think I’ll forget the first time I walked into a “fruiting chamber”!  Scott Lyons, a University of Florida alum, grows blue oyster mushrooms through a compost and hanging bag system that is rotated in a temperature and humidity-controlled walk-in cooler.

“They like it cool, 65 degrees, 95 percent humidity,” Lyons explained. “From the pin stage, it’s just 3 to 5 days until harvest. We can produce 150-200 pounds a week from this one chamber at full capacity.”

The process begins in the back of his warehouse by processing “mushroom spawn” from rye berry that is sterilized and inoculated with mycelium.  Spooky enough for Halloween, the spawn grows into something one might find in their refrigerator and deem fit for chucking. After that it’s mixed with compost to make the perfect growing material for beautiful mushrooms! They sell product online at all stages of production for budding shroomers to home gardeners in search of great substrate.  Or in MGFD chef de cuisine Niven Patel‘s case, home farmers! Next for Sublicious is working with converted shipping containers for a property up in Delray. A fruitful future seems imminent.

For more information on our suppliers from Farm to Kitchen’s customers and beyond, visit our Sourcing page.

Genuine Love Fest! Here’s the Mozza Pizzeria Menu & See You Saturday at Grovetoberfest

It’s been a busy, exciting week for Harry’s Pizzeria with the announcement of our new location coming to Coconut Grove in spring 2015.  The fun continues with the release today of Matt Molina’s menu for our last pop-up of 2014, and a little reminder that both Harry’s Pizzeria® and Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew will be at one of our favorite annual events this Saturday, Grovetoberfest.  See below for both details!
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It’s been a while since we put tickets up for Mozza Pizzeria with James Beard Award-winning chef Matt Molina and now it is GO TIME… The event is exactly 3 weeks away yesterday, and I got my ticket… get yours here before there aren’t any left.  We seriously can’t wait!  We spoke to Matt yesterday and confirmed this menu!  We have our first 2015 event set, no. 27 in the series, welcoming Chris Cosentino on Wednesday, February 18 for Cockscomb Pizzeria. Tickets go up the evening of Tuesday, November 4 during Mozza Pizzeria. So see you there to get first dibs!

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For the fourth year, Grovetoberfest brings 300 great beers from across the county and across the world seaside to Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park, right in the heart of Miami.  For the third year, Michael’s Genuine Home Brew will be poured by the Genuine Team, this time with a perfect pairing beside it — Harry’s Polenta fries with spicy ketchup.  We’ll have our favorite You Are What You Drink tattoos, Design District GM and chalk artist Michael Kump’s menu board, and more fun than you can ever imagine in our future neighborhood to the south! See you there Saturday, October 18 from 2:30-7 p.m. Cheers!

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Harry’s Pizzeria + Coconut Grove = Spring 2015

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Harry’s Pizzeria, the Design District original Est. 2011, in motion.

The people have spoken!  It’s time for a little southern hospitality… and a genuine pizza joint for the Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove Est. 1873. Please get ready to welcome Harry’s Pizzeria Coconut Grove Est. 2015.

On the heels of Harry’s Pizzeria’s third anniversary, The Genuine Hospitality Group especially friggin’ ecstatic, South Miami-based me! is proud to announce that chef/owner Michael Schwartz’s casual neighborhood joint will open its first new location in 2015 in Coconut Grove, and it feels pretty darn good if you don’t mind us saying so!  As if that news wasn’t good enough, we are working with famed Coconut Grove-based architectural design firm Arquitectonica to build out the space located in the heart of town at 2996-98 McFarlane Rd, mere steps from Peacock Park and beautiful marina-lined Bayshore Drive.  We’ll be celebrating with Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew and Harry’s addictive Polenta Fries from 2:30 – 7 p.m. this Saturday, October 18 at Grovetoberfest.  It’ll be our third time participating in Miami’s annual beer festival and just think… next year we can all walk to Harry’s after for dinner!

“It’s funny, what began with a question mark – should we open a pizzeria – has grown up and become this great restaurant with an identity all its own, one that we feel has great potential for growth, ” says Schwartz. “Choosing the right next location was super important, from the community, to the space itself and the partners involved. To have another opportunity to work with the Forts and the team at Arquitectonica is really exciting, and I think we’re all really looking forward to collaborating and getting to know our new neighborhood!”

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Harry’s Pizzeria is The Genuine Hospitality Group’s third restaurant, a casual neighborhood joint opened in September 2011 and named after Schwartz’s son Harry. The restaurant is a comfortable place to gather for snacks, salads, and specials featuring seasonal ingredients, Hedy Goldsmith’s desserts, Schwartz’s signature thin-crust pizzas cooked in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven, local and craft beers on draught, creative wines by the glass and bottle, and other beverages including housemade sodas and Panther Coffee. To make a new house a home, its “Chef Pop-Up Series” has welcomed America’s most acclaimed chefs into the kitchen over the past three years, effectively cementing Harry’s Pizzeria as a fixture in Miami’s dining community known for both its consistency and energetic, fun approach to the restaurant experience.

“We are very excited to be working with Michael on this restaurant. The addition of Harry’s to the neighborhood is a big part of our re-visioning for the center Grove to make it a place for everyday life and a unique destination” says Raymond Fort, Arquitectonica Project Designer.

The space on McFarlane Rd that Harry’s Pizzeria is entering is owned by Main Highway Partners.

“We have a history here – our family home is in the Grove and our corporate headquarters in the Grove, in the original space the company launched over 30 years ago. We understand the fabric of the neighborhood and are so thrilled to have entrepreneurs and business owners like Michael Schwartz and Panther Coffee coming into the fold,” says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Founding Principal of Arquitectonica.

Arquitectonica was brought on by The Genuine Hospitality Group to design the build out of the space for Harry’s Pizzeria.

“Arquitectonica is a big believer in smart urban planning. In the Grove, where we have our roots, we are excited to take part in designing the pieces that will come together to enhance the community,“ says Harold Fort, landscape architect for ArquitectonicaGEO.

We have a little ways to go to get numero dos online, but we will keep you posted on our progress until that happy day via the restaurant’s social media on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  Just follow @harryspizzeria and #HPCoconutGrove for updates as they happen!

MGFD Brunch at 5 Years | Homage to Hedy’s Sweets

Five years ago, a typical Sunday morning at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink (“MGFD”) was a time for our chefs to prepare for the evening service and plan for the upcoming week, quietly without distraction. But then October 25, 2009 rolled around and Sundays were never the same again. Today, once 11:00am hits the clock, MGFD is a vibrant and colorful scene of savory and sweet. Tables are adorned with a variety of small plates mingling with cocktails, wines, and beers at once. It is a playful and nostalgic affair, a frenzy of energy and creativity, and Hedy and Michael would not have it any other way.

Hedy explains that when Michael developed Brunch at MGFD, he wanted a different concept, where guests could enjoy a number of different plates, without any set rules. “It is whatever you feel like…”  It was a hit out of the gate, attracting the attention of then New York Times food critic Frank Bruni and has evolved into more than we ever could have imagined — a fun and interactive meal stretching the imagination of both our customers and our team in the restaurant that puts it together each week. We’ll cover the savory side of the menu next, but today we begin in keeping with Hedy’s mantra: “Eat dessert first!”

At the top of the Sweets section appear Hedy’s Childhood Treats. These items are meant to bring back childhood memories and can often be found in Hedy’s cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Items like overstuffed o’s, s’mores and chocolate caramel peanut bars show the playfulness and accessibility of the menu. As much as they attract children, they are meant for big kids, us. Because Hedy’s goal was to bring out the “oohs and aahs” out of us, and boy does she!

The remainder of the menu will leave you equally flabbergasted. The classics such as the pop t’s — which are Hedy’s take on the still relevant as ever original, on-the-go handheld breakfast pie — and the sticky bun, have new flavors weekly. They are in short, a grow-up version of your old time favorites. By grown- up, we mean improved of course. Exponential improvement. Some dishes are too bold to fathom, like the tequila watermelon-popsicle, or the macaron ice cream sandwich, or the peanut butter pie in a jar overflowing with caramel. Literally overflowing. Ugh! Hedy dares to play with both savory and sweet in general, particularly in her sticky buns, such as the bacon, cream cheese and peanut butter sticky bun. It leaves you to lick you fingers shamelessly at the table and turn an average Sunday morning meal, into your most anticipated moment of the week. Seriously. Some guests join us religiously for brunch and Hedy’s sweets are one of the reasons why they are committed to our brunchbell. Yes that’s what we call it!

Why the obsession? Our pastry team bakes with heart. Hedy and her associates change the Sweets menu in its entirety, weekly, with updates reflected on the michaelsgenuine.com website by crack of dawn Sunday. Although some preparation may be made in advance, or mise en place, all sweets are baked on Sunday morning. Hedy shares, “ I like to keep challenging myself, have fun and inspire my team. I don’t take myself too seriously and want to keep it playful”. That passion is evident from the choice of items on the menu, but most importantly the flavors. Hedy values multi dimensional dishes, especially with the desserts. She would hate for a guest to merely have two bites, which is why she plays with savory for balance. In her iconic and ever evolving cookie, junk in-da-trunk ®, for example, Hedy mixes cookie dough with pretzels, potato chips, peanut butter, and candy bars, but tops it with sea salt, “… to give your taste buds a break”, she reveals. This is a sweet marathon, not a race!

Hedy likes to inspire, but is also inspired by her energetic team, including Devin Braddock, who takes great pride in spearheading putting out the #brunchbell under the direction of pastry Sous-Chef, Patty Lopez. Devin also enjoys playing with the line between sweet and savory, such as hot pepper jam, and she loves our brunch’s core idea, nostalgia. Preparation for brunch sweets begins as early as Monday, when the team assembles a rough draft of the menu, which evolves during the week. It is the perfect opportunity for originality to emerge. And as the week develops, each dish “…molds into something more beautiful and more creative”, making brunch equally exciting for Devin and for you. The A team also includes Dallas Wynne, a Harry’s Pizzeria alum.

Brunch at MGFD comes together due to the participation of the entire team. Pastry helps the savory side by making a crumpet batter, while the servers, managers and support staff review the logistics for an effective brunch. It is a tough service to tackle, but quite a fun one. It can also be a friendly competition between sweet and savory, as Sous-Chef, Jason Arroyo, crosses the boundaries with a savory French toast for example; whereas Head Line Cook, Manuel Arredondo, brings out his own creativity to mirror Devin’s bold dishes, with maple bacon pancakes. If you haven’t experienced this underrated game yet, hustle because the bell rings at 11:00am every Sunday, and as of October 12, lasts until 3:00pm.