Announcing Harry’s Chef Pop-Up No. 26 | Mozza Pizzeria with James Beard Award Winner Matt Molina

Like it was yesterday, you remember your first meal at Pizzeria Mozza. Mine was lunch with Chef and Eric as we rounded out a trip west after blending the first Lua Rossa with Jim Clendenden in Santa Barbara (No. 2 is estimated to drop September 4 to Au Bon Climat’s distributor’s warehouse, by the way.)  As you can see from the photos above, it was in a word, perfect. That bone marrow? Done right without a fuss. Squash blossom pizza? It looked up at us from the table – the lightest crust you’ve ever had – but still with purposeful bite, just begging to be devoured.  And if you think there’s no way in hell you are going to be able to fit that budino into your happy belly, you will. And it will be silky, sticky, creamy heaven on a spoon.

We are very pleased and excited to announce that 2014’s last Chef Pop-Up, true to form, brings this slice and spoon of LA heaven to Miami’s Design District for one night only in the form of its James Beard Award Winning executive chef, and maybe if I’m lucky, those amazing placemats.  Best part is, we’ll just be entering our local growing season for the menu.

TICKETS ARE NOW LIVE HERE FOR MOZZA PIZZERIA!

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After esteemed visiting guests Gabrielle Hamilton, Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, Jonathon Sawyer, Kevin Sbraga, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Paul Grieco, Chris Hastings, Hugh Acheson, Andrew Carmellini, Mindy Segal, Paul Kahan, April Bloomfield, Bill Telepan, Joey Campanaro, Jeff Michaud, Matthew Accarrino, Michael Solomonov, Ben Ford, and John Currence, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Jenn Louis, Mike Lata, Matt McCallister, and Tony Mantuano, Michael is thrilled to welcome Matt Molina to Harry’s for Mozza Pizzeria on Tuesday, November 4 at 7PM!

A graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Matt began his career at Campanile in Los Angeles. After 6 years at Campanile under the tutelage of Nancy Silverton, Matt went on to train at Del Posto in New York City in preparation for his role as Executive Chef of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza.  As Executive Chef at Pizzeria Mozza & Osteria Mozza , Matt has received three stars by S. Irene Virbila, the Los Angeles Times food critic, for both restaurants.  In 2008, Matt was nominated for “Rising Star Chef” & “Best New Restaurant” in Osteria Mozza by the James Beard Foundation and later went on to receive the accolade for “Best Chef Pacific” in 2012.

You know the drill. Seating is first come, first served for this family-style meal at our casual neighborhood joint.  Making new friends is encouraged and easy when you’ve got a welcome cocktail in hand with hors d’oeuvres, four courses, free-flowing wines by The Genuine Hospitality Group sommelier and wine director Eric Larkee and our tap beers at your disposal. Take home something special Matt co-authored with Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreno, too — The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes From Los Angeles’s Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (Knopf, 2011). All that and tax and gratuity are included in the ticket price of $150.

LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER, OK?  We can’t wait to have the opportunity for seconds again in LA after.

Expediting The Genuine Kitchen | A Method to the Madness

One of the many qualities of a successful restaurant is the art of timing a table’s meal effectively, so that courses are properly paced and for guests to receive their meal at once, without compromising freshness. It sets the tone for the entire dining experience. But how exactly? The expediter position, or “expo”. The person tasked with this role is in short, a conductor of the kitchen. The expo monitors the scheduling and quality of the dishes, such as the appropriate temperature, texture, and presentation, and orchestrates the stations behind the line in concert. I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink’s Chef de Cuisine, Niven Patel, to take a closer look at these intricacies and let you inside the controlled chaos of our back of house to see how the magic happens during service!

Let us talk about the scenery. As soon as I stepped into the kitchen, I felt a rush. The cooks and chefs work with haste, but most importantly with passion. As the kitchen’s fearless leader, Chef Niven presides with calmness yet conviction. He believes that tone, confidence and respect, translate to accurate and passionate execution in the food. He is as focused, if not more so than his team, to set the example and build the group’s ammunition for a busy Saturday evening. The Genuine Kitchen holds four stations: wood oven, grill, sauté and pantry (otherwise known as salads). Despite the specificity of these duties, it does not prohibit a cook from one station to assist in another region of the kitchen when asked by the Chef. Teamwork is everything in this jungle.

Our Wood Oven

Our Wood Oven fires items or components of items from all across the Genuine menu, at once, delicately moved in and around hot spots until each is ready at different times by the cook on this station. Here it’s about half capacity.

Between 7 and 9 p.m. the circus takes place, as these are typically the busiest hours of the night. Due to the rapidity of this point in service, kitchen language and non-verbal queues are essential. The Chef abbreviates certain dishes when calling them out to his cooks; therefore, every person must be very familiar with the menu to avoid kitchen errors: “two cauli, one pus, one 2.5, one shoulder SOS”, meaning two wood oven roasted cauliflowers, one chargrilled octopus, one 2.5 pound snapper, and one slow roasted pork shoulder with sauce on the side.  “Got it?” “Heard!” This is how cooks respond to the Chef to ensure effective communication; a good memory will serve you well here. Or, the Chef may merely extend an olive bowl and a team member knows that it should automatically be filled with marinated olives, without uttering a word. It all goes down very quickly, but despite the speed, cooks must deliver in order to please the Chef, but most importantly the guest.

As he continues to call out orders, the Chef keeps track of all items using slips, which stick on a long metal line. He uses a twistable blue crayon – Niven is very particular – to mark which items are complete. He groups certain tables to maximize efficiency and separates others to allow dinners to enjoy their appetizers, before bombarding them with the next course. At the expo “seat” (they stand) the designated person must anticipate the cooking time for all items and keep cooks on track. There are no timers.  The Chef and cooks can determine exactly four minutes or seven minutes solely from their internal clock, and precision is key.

Monitoring time does not only benefit the table, but it affects the performance of the entire restaurant. For example, staying on schedule for the first three tables helps with timing on the subsequent twenty tables. The Chef uses key words to hold the reigns, such as “on the fly”, to emphasize speed on a particular dish or “all day” to reiterate the number of the times a cook should execute a particular dish: “…all day, you have four groupers and two stracciatella.”  All five senses are put to the test at the kitchen. The Chef can smell when a wood oven roasted double yolk farm egg is ready, determine the appropriate temperature of a steak by its sight, feel the ideal texture of crispy hominy, hear the printer emit the next order slip, and taste the level of spice on a pig ear. It truly is a science.

A talented Chef or Sous-Chef at the expo position is vital; however, the restaurant only comes together due to our dream team. The conductor leads but the orchestra performs, which is the cooks, as their hard work is what leads to dishes that make you gasp. It also entails the food runners, those who deliver dishes from kitchen stations to the correct person at the table. They recognize any dish with a quick glance and understand its composition in order to inform the Chef of what they see at the window and accurately describe to guests what is presented at the table. In addition, a food runner may take over the expo position, sharpen knives, prepare breads, and debone snappers and chickens at the guest’s request, among other duties.


The front of the house is also an important part of the expo equation, which includes the manager on duty (or MOD), servers, and host. The latter reaches out to the Chef to indicate when a large number of guests have been seated at once, otherwise known as a “push”, so that the kitchen may be prepared. Servers share the pace of their table, along with special requests, so that the kitchen can offer the best possible service. Last but not least, the MOD holds a great deal of responsibility, working to ensure any mistakes are seamless with the guest.  As odd as these procedures may sound, they allow us to raise the bar for an unprecedented guest dining experience. Each role is a dance to develop a cohesive choreography in the restaurant and the expediter position is but one of many. “Teamwork makes the Dream Work” indeed.

A Clam Bake & a Homecoming in Grand Cayman


I’m getting my beach bag ready for another — yes, productive! — visit to the rock in September.  But before the trusty passport gets more island ink, we welcome back two genuine specialties to our home away from home in Camana Bay — a second Clam Bake event on the Crescent Fountain lawn and Prudent Baselais into the MGFD kitchen.

Like Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink Grand Cayman’s 2010 opening chef de cuisine Thomas Tennant (now TGHG Special Ops Chef,) Prudent’s assuming this position should come as no surprise.  Like Tennant, Mr. Baselais’ first day in Michael’s flagship Miami kitchen as a line cook was in the restaurant’s first year — March 19, 2007 in fact, 6 days after the public stepped foot inside its doors.  Talk about Throwback Thursday!  He has grown along with The Genuine Hospitality Group, from keeping things genuine in the Restaurant Michael Schwartz kitchen to his new opportunity on the rock.

“I like the island a lot.  It reminds me of home.  I grew up a part of my life in Haiti so it really brings back a lot memories when I see breadfruit everywhere, green plantain and callaloo,” Prudent explains.  “I’m also founding out people are really nice here. Even on the street people will stop to let you pass!”

Tiger ShrimpPrudent’s influence is already being felt since he arrived earlier this summer.  People are really digging seeing the menu come to life with new ingredients like Tiger Shrimp and his new chicken set-up with fresh local bok choy and farro.

“Just like the restaurant in Miami, the wood oven is my favorite station to work in and getting with the local farmers for the freshest produce… ’cause that’s what we do!” he continues.  “One thing I never touch a day in my life before is Ackee, but I found it pairs great with the local fish.  It’s big hit on the island.”

See our UPCOMING EVENTS page for Clam Bake details, and for a genuine taste of what’s new on island as Prudent settles in, follow the restaurant’s Instagram @MGFD_GCM. We are really excited about the work manager Camille Ross has been doing to share what our Caribbean family is up to on one of its first Instagram accounts which we hope will catch on in a bigger way across the island.

[VIDEO] Sharing the Royal Wow Behind the Brew

It’s hard to believe but final preparations are being made for the Michael’s Genuine® Pub to set sail from the New York City area in November. You’ve been on the ride with us, from the announcement there in March, to our happy hour to celebrate where it all first began, the Michael’s Genuine®  Food & Drink bar in Miami’s Design District.  Once it is open, we will continue to be closely involved to ensure all is running smoothly, visiting the ships on a regular basis to keep staff motivated and operations well-oiled with our partners at Royal Caribbean International, as we have done since 2011 with 150 Central Park’s Farm-to-Ship program.  This time is special though, of course, as our brand sets sail for the first time on the brand new Quantum Class of ships.  We will be onboard for training, traveling to Bremerhaven, Germany prior to the inaugural transatlantic crossing to further infuse genuine culture onboard.  Through and through the process has been akin to opening one of our restaurants on land — from branding, restaurant design, art by Carl Myers, uniforms, and merchandise, to the menu, its design and paper spec, recipe development, and smallwares procurement.  And of course, ramping up production for some craft beer close to our hearts to be onboard — Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew Classic American Ale and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale from Back Forty Beer Company in Gadsden, Alabama.

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Est. 1846!

Thanks to our partners at Royal Caribbean and Michael’s role as Quantum Experience Advisor for Culinary, today we take you behind the scenes with Chef and Ryan for Episode 2: Craft Brews at Sea, a voyage to discover how Michael’s Genuine Home Brew is made at its home away from home with BFBC Director of Operations Tripp Collins.  You can also view Episode 1: Genuine Food and Drink Aboard Quantum Class here, featuring Michael and Royal Caribbean International Culinary Director Neal Gallagher as they preview what’s to come at the Michael’s Genuine Pub, including cameos by MGFD HQ chef de cuisine Niven Patel and sous chef Danny Ramirez!

Still thirsty for more Michael’s Genuine Home Brew?  Tune into the shenanigans from Michael’s casual neighborhood joint Harry ‘s Pizzeria® as we prepare for our August 26 dinner with Terrapin Brewing Co. on this week’s Brew in Miami with Miami Herald Food Editor Evan Benn. Catch the new episode later this week on Miami.com and read about it in Saturday’s Tropical Life section of the Herald. Cheers!

At Home on the Wheel with Gary the Potter


It seemed night had fallen a little earlier than usual for a summer evening as I pulled into the driveway tucked off a residential street on Miami Beach.  The house sat quiet in a nest of palms, casting light from the pores of its winding single story footprint, a midcentury South Florida home in the truest sense.  One pane in particular fluttered, beckoning as I approached to peer inside.  There was Gary Rosenberg, bustling inside his 12′ x 12’ converted garage ceramics studio, not unlike my first apartment in New York City. I think we called it a shoebox.

I knocked on the door and stepped back in time to 10th grade studio art class.  It felt great, and the usual suspects were all there. First the damp, intoxicating smell of clay.  And clay was everywhere.  The floor, the wheel, Gary’s overalls… and me, already, even without sitting down to take a test drive and see if I remembered a thing or two.  One thing was for certain.  Whatever I didn’t recall, Gary was going to show me.

“I first really got into it in 1973.  I apprenticed under Eddie Weyhe,”  Gary begins.  “He was a painter and potter in Coconut Grove I met when I was 17.  He was very artistic and had a great sense of design.  The way he threw was amazing.  He had this Florida Room in his house with one all-white wall, and he would take some charcoal and sketch his next piece, including the decoration.  He worked in three sections.  The final product would be 6-8 feet tall!

Gary's beginnings behind the wheel.

Gary’s beginnings behind the wheel.

The thing about his work was that it felt like a piece of art. That’s the difference that makes great pottery. I have some of his ‘mistakes’. They’re my most treasured pieces. He’d toss them into the back of his yard, and I’d go and collect them.  They have a beginning middle and end, like a great meal.”

Gary is a commercial real estate broker, running his business as a family operation with his son Andy.  And he is an artisan in the truest sense.  He is also a blacksmith, certified hypnotist and comedian.  Pottery is not quite an art and not quite a hobby for this Beach High grad.  He approaches it as a craftsman.  The work is functional, and he produces a lot of it out of this tiny studio he built 11 years ago.  And that was the reason for my visit. Production.

Michael met Gary at a poker match 10 years ago, and they have been part of the same group ever since, not to mention neighbors and friends. Not surprisingly, Chef is a great fan of his work.  If you look closely, you’ll notice some pieces at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink that have been there pretty much since the beginning.  There’s the business card bowl at the host stand and the perforated bowl in the center of our ingredient wall on the food bar.  This evening it would be an order for new radish bowls for our bar keeping Gary on his toes. I would learn – through participation thanks to a great teacher – how they were made, from centering, opening and pulling, to trimming in their mid-dry leather stage with his set of custom made Tungsten Carbide tools.  Gary explained that after the first or Bisque firing in the kiln just under 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece will shrink 15%, making his measuring stick even that more important when an order as specific as Michael’s comes in.

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I began two pieces that night — a small vase and a plate with a shallow lip, and gained a Gary trick that he learned from his mentor for centering the clay by pushing it forwards on the wheel and letting it come back.   As I closelined each piece from its bat, the removable attachment to the base of the wheel on which you “throw” the clay, and placed them on the shelf to dry it became clear that Gary is like any great sushi master. A Shokunin. He both makes individual pieces each imbued with character, thanks to signature lines and textures applied that harness the glaze, but he has standardized a look that he can reproduce with profound prolific effect.

“I threw 70 pots in three days. Four or so of them will be the right size for Michael, and the others are for gift bags for the weddings,” he continues (both his son and his daughter each will be married before the end of the year.) “I’m making each of them Kiddish cups for their ceremonies, too.”

A family guy through and through, and one we are proud to call part of the extended Genuine family as well.  Michael takes another turn at the wheel soon when it’s glazing time.  Can’t wait to see how he makes his mark.