A Friday Morning Trip to the Genuine Commissary, in Numbers

It was my first time at the commissary, and I was in for a treat. As I finished my drive and parked my car outside, right “next to the Empanada place”, the sun was beginning to rise. When I walked in I saw a bustling hive of early rising folks. Everyone is working to complete the prep list of the day before Jean brings the van to whisk everything away and deliver it to the restaurants. Billie Eilish plays in the background. Let’s break down my time here into numbers:

10 people working here. Each with their own task for the day. There’s Myrtille Quillien, head pastry chef for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Amara at Paraiso and Ella Pop Café. Then Yesenia, her assistant and master donut maker, a dealbreaker for Myrtille when she transitioned in her new promotion from Amara, their former home. CJ is the commissary manager, handles savory production and makes sure all orders are accounted for. Micheline and Nancy work on short rib and pig ears, while Marie is on the fryer for potato chips. Joceline washes dishes, while Stacy and Alex roll out cinnamon rolls and make coconut cake filling. Lastly, Jean loads up the van and makes the rounds dropping off the goodies to each restaurant. Each unique. Each essential to the process working right.

9 things I can see being made when I walk in. Cinnamon rolls, financiers, quiches, coconut cake, mayonnaise, pig ears, short rib, donuts, and potato chips. The days list doesn’t end there though! Many more items are made throughout the day.

8 steps to the coconut cake. 1- Bake the cakes 2-Cut them into sheets for stacking 3- Lay down the first sheet, brush with syrup 4- add frosting to each layer 5- repeat with all of the layers 6- frost the whole cake 7-cover in coconut flakes 8- torch the coconut flakes. This cake is a dessert at Amara and is sometimes featured in Ella’s pastry display.

7 am call time. I am not a morning person, so you can imagine my sentiments. But these are baker’s hours. Myrtille gets here around 5 and is a self-proclaimed early-bird. She went to bed at 8 pm the night before!

6 colors of Fruity Pebbles. Yesenia spent hours at home separating the colors of the cereal in order to make a special rainbow donut. Then, she meticulously places them to create a beautiful and cheery design. Painstakingly perfect, just like the rainbow that appeared in the sky as we left later!

5 people help load the truck around 8. The definition of genuine teamwork! From the meditative state of getting through the morning prep list, the energy shifts into high gear as the morning’s haul is rushed into the van, quickly tallied with any missing items handed off in a flurry as Jean steps on the gas to make his delivery rounds. Phew! Everyone takes a small break before prepping for the next day.

4 trays of eggs in the Combi oven for mayonnaise, dialed in with a recipe that ensures perfect every time with zero breakage! Fun fact: we make our own mayo. Not so we can write “house made” on the menu (we don’t) but because it tastes better, is extremely cost efficient and is easy to make!

3 stops for Jean to make in the van: Michael’s Genuine, Ella Pop Café, and Amara at Paraiso. Everything is delivered fresh daily!

2 perfectly zested lemons by Myrtille. As she was stirring her almond Financier dough and folding in the fragrant flecks, I looked over to see two of the most perfectly zested lemons I’ve ever seen in my life! Myrtille was taught by a woman who spent hours zesting oranges to make orange sugar. All white pith, no sweet peel to be found, nor wasted.  “It’s my special technique!” she exclaimed.

1 cup of French Press coffee. After the Commissary’s espresso machine was taken for to Tigertail + Mary, Myrtille took matters into her own hands and brought her mini French Press when Culinary Director Bradley’s idea of Mr. Coffee didn’t sit well. Good coffee is a must when your alarm goes off at 4:30 in the morning!

Pastrami on Pie! Pass the Katz’s Delicatessen Pizza at Harry’s Pizzeria Coconut Grove

This summer, New York City’s iconic Katz’s Delicatessen is sharing the Jewish Deli love across the country with the launch of its first-ever Pass the Pastrami series, and Michael’s been flagged to receive it!  Chef joins Jamie Bissonnette and Marc Vetri to “pass the pastrami” and highlight a signature Katz’s-inspired dish at one of their restaurants.  From July 10-16, it’s Harry’s turn to play at our Coconut Grove location as Chef breathes some fire into the classic NYC sandwich — pastrami on rye — with a Pastrami Pizza featuring rye crust, sauerkraut, mustard sauce and gruyere.  The pizza will be available each day until we run out for $18. It’s time to start salivating and choose which beer to wash it down with.

The inspiration.

“Katz’s is always my first stop in NYC.  THE pastrami is hands down both the best and worst craving to have because you just can’t replicate it,” Michael says. “We’re excited to take this classic and have some fun with it in Miami at Harry’s. Pastrami on Rye Pizza just makes sense!”

We just received our sample batch of pastrami and got straight to recipe testing.  TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron is currently working on the rye dough which should be the real kicker to tie this tasty bite together — along with a little scallion for a fresh contrast to the melty, briny toppings combination. Home cooks can try their hand at the chefs’ deli creations with easy-to-replicate recipes… Stay tuned for ours!

Behold, the test pie.

Katz’s Delicatessen is an iconic restaurant serving traditional Jewish deli fare in the Lower East Side since 1888. As one of the oldest Jewish delis in NYC, the family-run business has been a local favorite for over a century. Their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches are the gold standard for an ‘authentic’ NYC deli experience, thanks to Katz’s emphasis on traditional slow-curing processes and hand-cut slicing techniques. Today, Katz’s serves thousands of hungry customers daily and ships their deli classics nationwide. Katz’s storefront is considered a LES landmark and is a popular destination among locals, tourists, and celebrities. In June 2017, Katz’s will open its first outpost in Brooklyn at the new Dekalb Market.

“We sell 15,000 pounds of pastrami every week, making it our most popular meat at the moment. I’ve always enjoyed watching others put their own spin on the classics, so I can’t wait to see what these insanely talented chefs are going to come up with,” says Katz’s Deli owner, Jake Dell. “It’s a fun way for people in different cities to get a taste of what we do here at Katz’s, and to learn some cool new recipes that they can recreate at home through our shipping department.”

The “Pass the Pastrami “series includes:
– Chef Jamie Bissonnette, Little Donkey, Boston
o Dish: Katz’s Pastrami Tacos with habanero salsa, cotija, and pepitas
o Location: Little Donkey, 505 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
o Offer Date: July 7 – 9, 2017
– Chef Michael Schwartz, Harry’s Pizzeria, Miami
o Dish: Pastrami Pizza, rye crust, kraut, mustard sauce, and gruyere
o Location: Harry’s Pizzeria Coconut Grove, 2996 McFarlane Road, Miami, FL 33133
o Offer Date: July 10 – July 16, 2017
– Chef Marc Vetri, Amis Trattoria, Philadelphia
o Dish: Pastrami carbonara
o Location: Amis Trattoria, 412 S 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
o Offer Date: July 17-July 23, 2017

Katz’s pastrami and other legendary menu items are available for shipping nationwide, with free shipping for orders over $100.  For additional information on Katz’s Delicatessen, please visit katzsdelicatessen.com.

Your Spectacular 2016 Holiday Party, The Genuine Way

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Discover how Michael Schwartz Events can make your 2016 holiday gathering spectacular!

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Hard to believe but we know you are starting to plan for the 2016 Holiday Season, from Art Week to the New Year.  Let our James Beard Award winning-led team help you handle all your event needs with fully staffed catering off site including customizable menusmobile wood oven, decór and satellite bar.

Or, host your private party at one of Chef’s distinctive restaurant concepts that form The Genuine Hospitality Group.  Email Special Events Director Lindsay Guidos at MICHAEL SCHWARTZ EVENTS or reach her at 786.708.6826 to get started!

Michael’s Genuine | fresh, simple, pure
130 Northeast 40th Street
Miami, FL 33137

As the chef’s flagship restaurant, Michael’s Genuine offers a laid-back atmosphere and seriously good food, a neighborhood bistro that is the ultimate showcase for the type of cuisine that Michael does best – homemade, unpretentious, delectable, with an emphasis on great local ingredients. The restaurant can accommodate festivities for up to 150 guests as a buyout or separately in its bar room (18 seated or 35 standing cocktail party), main dining room (60), or outside patio (80) for lunch, brunch and dinner.

Harry's mobile wood burning oven, the perfect holiday -- or Art Week -- party on wheels.

Harry’s mobile wood burning oven

Harry’s Pizzeria | Neighborhood American
Pizzeria 3918 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127 2996 McFarlane Road

Coconut Grove, FL 33133 Harry’s Pizzeria is all about fun, and parties are no exception. Whether in the Design District (seats 40 inside, 20 outside) or in Coconut Grove (seats 54 inside, 16 outside), it’s a perfect fit for happy hour gatherings, pizza parties, bachelor parties and more! Menu options include snacks, salads, pizza and entrées from the wood-burning oven. Harry’s can also hit the streets with a mobile wood burning oven for offsite events, the the perfect holiday — or Art Week — party on wheels.

Cypress Tavern | American Grill & Cocktail Bar
3620 Northeast 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33137

Our intimate dining room is rooted in top notch food and service with an old world sensibility from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. Evoking the simplicity of classic brasserie fare and open for dinner and weekend brunch, the restaurant’s size is perfect for lunch or dinner buyouts with customizable menus that play to a classy, lively experience. Cypress can accommodate seated parties up to 50 guests, or reception-style gatherings up to 75 guests.

ella pop café | light and airy café
140 Northeast 39th Street
Miami, FL 33137
ella is nestled in Palm Court, a beautiful sun-drenched plaza in Miami’s Design District. Michael’s eldest daughter Ella is its inspiration! The café is open Monday to Saturday from 9am – 7pm and Sunday noon – 5pm serving breakfast, lunch and early evening bites (as well as large to-go orders and catering), with beverages including Panther Coffee, JoJo Tea, beer and wine. After hours ella is available for private seated dinners and chef tables for up to 28 inside or standing receptions for up to 500 in Palm Court. A sleek and airy spot for effortless events!

[Chef at Home] Schwartz’s Summer Grilling Tips & Recipes for the Grate Outdoors

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, America’s backyard grill masters are looking ways to impress their guests with their favorite go-to meals off the grill.  This summer, Michael is teaming up with Lynx Grills to bring you his essential grilling tips and recipes, many of which can be found in MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat (Clarkson Potter.)

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“Grilling is one of my favorite ways to cook,” says Chef. “You’re only as good as your ingredients and in this case, it’s a great grill!”

Here we offer his cookbook’s cover recipe, Grilled Skirt Steak with shaved fennel, orange, and green olive tapenade (pgs. 93-94.)  During the summer, steak and potatoes won’t always cut it.  This main course salad is hearty without being heavy and contains all of the elements of a balanced meal—meat, starch, and vegetables. Grilled beef, crisp fennel, chewy fregola, and bright oranges are finished with a drizzle of briny green olive tapenade in this Mediterranean-inspired skirt steak salad.   It’s colorful, light and refreshing, everything you want to see on our plate during these long, hot days.

“Varying texture and temperature play a powerful role in the makeup of this dish, adding a whole other dimension,” Michael explains. “I’m a believer that opposites do attract; hot and cold—the grilled meaty steak and the cool crunchy salad— play off each other.”

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Some other ideas from Chef before hitting the grates?  Give meat an extra layer of flavor by tossing damp woody herbs like thyme and rosemary directly onto the fire; this will lend a distinctive earthy essence (Thyme-smoked Four-Inch Porterhouse Steak (pgs.168-169)  Fish love the grill, too.  Salmon steaks are the perfect cut of fish for grilling as they are shaped sort of like a horseshoe and have the bone left in the center. They’re really thick and meaty, and don’t stick to the grill like fillets, which makes them ideal for grilling. Grilled Wild Salmon Steak with fennel hash and sweet onion sauce (pgs. 132-133)  Mark your salad! Try to buy your lettuce in whole heads and grill it to impart a great flavor and texture to salads. Make sure you cut thick enough on the vein so it holds together. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and season, then use tongs to mark each size of your “steaks”. It’s usually less expensive and fresher than bagged lettuce and you can choose the kinds you’d like, from radicchio to romaine. Dress as you like. I shave big slices of Pecorino on mine.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Shaved Fennel, Orange, and Green Olive Tapenade

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a starter

4 8-ounce skirt steaks
2 tablespoons chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fregola
½ large red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 fennel bulb, top removed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
8 radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
½ pound arugula
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds
½ cup Green Olive Tapenade (recipe follows)

Ingredient Note: fregola
Fregola, sometimes called Italian couscous, is a terrific addition to your pantry. It’s much more interesting than regular pasta and has a unique texture. The pasta dough is rubbed by hand to form little pellets, which are then toasted to give a distinctive nutty flavor. If hard pressed, you can use Israeli couscous, but there really is no substitute for fregola. It is worth getting your hands on. It also makes great risotto.

Lay the skirt steak flat on a baking sheet and season evenly on both sides with the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside so the flavors can sink in a bit.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Add the fregola and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the pasta for 15 minutes until the pellets are al dente. Drain and cool.

Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Rub the grill with oil to prevent sticking. Grill the onion slices for 2 minutes, turning often, until charred on both sides. Remove them from the grill and set aside.

Lay the steaks on the grill and cook, turning with tongs from time to time, to sear well on all sides; this takes about 8 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 2 or 3 minutes to allow the juices to recirculate.
In the meantime, make the salad. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fregola, grilled onion, fennel, radishes, arugula, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the salad among 4 or 6 plates. Arrange 4 or 5 slices of orange on top of each plate. Cut each skirt steak into 3 equal pieces, then turn each piece sideways and cut into thin slices against the grain, ensuring tenderness. Shingle the sliced meat on top of the salad. Spoon some of the tapenade on top and serve immediately.

Green Olive Tapenade

Makes about 1 cup

2 cups pitted green olives, such as Picholine
4 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times. Scrape down the sides of the processor and pulse 2 more times; the tapenade should be coarsely chopped. It will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

How to House Party Like a Chef (& other occupational hazards we’re totally ok with)

And in the morning, there are eggs.  Not an omelet, limp, spongy corners folded in uniform butter yellow.  No, no.  Tom makes you eggs purgatory, a constellation of color leaping from stained baking dish, bringing the life back in pools of spicy tomato sauce and dunks of crusty, toasted bread.  It’s the perfect hangover breakfast and how to keep the party going when you’re a chef.

Such was the timeline when the Schwartz family opened up their home to chefs visiting for the 15th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival for a good old fashioned house party Thursday night.  Just a bunch of friends who came to the table to make some delicious food and good vibes.  Here’s what we learned for the next time you entertain at home, taking a page from Michael Schwartz Events (Lindsay killing it again!)

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Grillmaster Schwartz, with his Lynx rig.

+  Always be ready for surprises. If you’ve got a menu that takes some time, have something out for guests when they arrive. Lucky for us, our guests came with good surprises, too.  Izzy’s Jamie DeRosa showed up with a bucket of Island Creek Oysters with champagne mignonette, quickly jumping behind Michael’s kitchen island to shuck with chef William Crandall. Classy.

+ Be present.  The best thing about entertaining is being with your guests so do as much prep ahead of time as you can and delegate.  It usually takes a village, and teamwork is key to ensuring everyone has a good time.

+ Create a flow. On Thursday, we had several stations spread out over the footprint of the house, each offering something a little different so that any variations in fire time went unnoticed.  From the Lynx Grill, Harry’s Pizzeria’s agrodolce chicken wings with rosemary crema sizzled and caramelized into the sticky but not too messy finger food every party needs.  El Mago de Las Fritas brought the magic box and cranked out classic burgers and the new kid on the block – “confundida” – one that is confused it’s a Cuban sandwich, topped with the Cuban-style pulled pork, sangria-cured ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, papitas, and mustard on a medianoche garlic-buttered bun. Taquiza Miami’s Steve Santana and Washington Charles brought their A game and A team (Saltz!) to serve octopus al pastor and wood grilled hanger steak with chive flowers and radish, both on special pink peppercorn masa tortillas.  Chef Bradley nailed a perfect falafel sandwich with hummus, baba ghanoush, and Israeli salad all stuffed into a warm pita and topped with tahina, pickled red onions and habanero “assburn” hot sauce, if you’re doing it right.

+ Pour fast and smile!  Running out of drinks is no fun for guests or host.  To keep the beverages flowing, simple is usually best.   Eric Larkee decided on a Gin & Tonic bar but rather than corralling a wide range of Gins to represent the range of historical styles, classic producers and cool smaller micro producers (you know he wanted to!), he exercised restraint.  He picked one solid Gin, Plymouth, to headline the party. Thank you Pernod Ricard, for only the best.

+ Just chill.  For the bar, Larkee went with Fever Tree, Q Tonic and Jack Rudy’s tonic syrup (which requires soda water), all with wonderful flavor and great dryness. But the key is serving them chilled.  “Heck, if you can, chill the Gin too,” he adds. “This is a drink that is better the colder it is and when you’re at a party, walking around especially indoors and out, the drink is going to heat up in your hand a little faster than normal. So you can’t really start cold enough.”

+ Keep it fun, not too serious.  Larkee’s finishing touch was the garnish selection, where there’s room to play without getting silly.  To step it up past the slice of lime, he chose a selection to accentuate some of the more subtle fruit and botanic flavors in the Gin. So: lemon, limes, red grapefruit, strawberry, cucumber, pear, rosemary, basil, thyme, mint, cilantro, cinnamon stick, cracked black pepper.

+ Be genuine.  The most important tip of them all.  Do what you know and be who you are. This not only makes for a simpatico crowd, but an executable set up.  Don’t try to do anything out of your comfort zone. There is time for R&D, but this isn’t it!  Give the people what they want.

Huge thank you to Giovanny Gutierrez of Chat Chow TV for helping us document the evening.   Until next year!