From Pizza Class To Food Festivals, Be Party To These Upcoming Genuine Events

Even the most typical of dinner services at our restaurants can feel like a party. The energy of the environment and surprises from any number of variables affect a dining experience — something as simple as a new bottle of Riesling on the list or the arrival stone crabs to the raw bar — are what keep us in this business and you coming back for more.  When we can collaborate with people inside and outside our organization that make it extra special, that’s cause for extraordinary celebration. Here are three such opportunities!  As Michael heads to #NYCWFF this weekend to cook with Dan Kluger, get a jump start on the action coming to a genuine restaurant near you. Tickets are a click away below, until they’re not!

Florence in the genuine house.

MICHAEL’S GENUINE® FOOD & DRINK – South Beach Wine & Food Festival presents Dinner Hosted by Tyler Florence and Michael Schwartz – Thursday, February 21, 7-10PM  [TICKETS HERE]
The South Florida favorite known for putting Miami’s fashionable Design District neighborhood on the culinary map lights up with the force behind successful California restaurants Wayfare Tavern, El Paseo and Tyler Florence Rotisserie & Wine. He may be a fan-favorite Food Network personality known for the hit series The Great Food Truck Race and cookbook author but we know Tyler as a Chef first — and one who cooks pretty much the ultimate of everything.  We can’t wait to see what this collab produces, an East and West Coast explosion of flavor accompanied by wines from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits portfolio.

AMARA AT PARAISO –South Beach Wine & Food Festival presents Dinner Hosted by Greg & Gabrielle Denton and Michael Schwartz -Friday, February 22, 7-10PM  [SOLD OUT]
It’s no surprise that South Florida favorite Chef Michael Schwartz’s new Amara at Paraiso in Edgewater is the most buzzed about new waterfront restaurant in town. This James Beard Award-winning chef has created an oasis that embraces the dynamic energy of the Magic City and serves up bold Latin American flavors that pay homage to the city’s diverse culture. He’s joined by the James Beard Award-winning husband and wife chef duo Greg and Gabrielle Denton, the grilling cookbook authors and force behind the much buzzed about Argentinean grill Ox and newly opened Bistro Agnes in Portland, OR. Enjoy this cross-country melding of flavors, accompanied by perfectly paired wines from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits portfolio, in the heart of downtown Miami.

GENUINE PIZZA Pizza-Making Class & Dinner (Aventura Mall) – Thursday, October 25, 7-9PM  [TICKETS HERE]
A fun night out with the family is about more than just gathering around the table. Get your hands doughy and eat your pizza too! Everyone’s happy on third Thursdays, when Chef Michael Schwartz’s casual pizza restaurant holds a monthly pizza-making experience to teach you how to shape perfect pies with a meal along the way.  Hosted by pizza trainer Blair Anderson at our Aventura Mall location, bring the kids, friends, a date, you name it — we have the fun covered.  Make your own pizzas, with toppings just the way you want them with a Pizza Kit to take home to make it easy to practice what you learned in your kitchen.  $29 includes 4 Courses, Assorted Snacks — Salads — Make-Your-Own Pizza — Panna Cotta and a take-home pizza making kit with recipe and ingredients.  Tax & gratuity not included. Wine, beer, sangria and full beverage menu available for purchase on consumption.

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Chef Derek Dammann is Like a Great Bar. He Owns a Restaurant with One, Too.

 

About an hour after I hang up from my interview with Derek Dammann, he sends me some images to illustrate this post. There is no pristine beauty of Baked Oysters with Mushroom and Marmite, now iconic at the chef’s beloved five-year-old Québécois gastropub, Maison Publique — the dish he mentioned over the phone that began as half-serious, half-joke until they realized it was really fucking good.  Also not included is a table full of Sichuan dishes from that place back home in Vancouver that doesn’t look like much but serves some of the best Asian food the city’s immigrant nooks and crannies have to offer.  No.  He has sent me two images.  One is of a wood burning stove for heating not cooking — and the other, a flood-lit house and shed fronting a wood disappearing into the night.  Leading to it, a pathway has been plowed four feet deep and is soft with footsteps fresh from the evening’s snowfall.  For someone for whom affability seems to come more naturally and fluidly than most, who makes a living playing host to both friends and strangers daily, Dammann has chosen to live of all places out in the woods.  “This is home,” he writes, and suddenly I realize he has shared all I need to know in this one text message.  I can relate.

He, wife Christina and six-year-old son Felix call the Laurentian Mountains home.  They are majestic, primal and not exactly the obvious choice for a man who has built his reputation on creating atmosphere and community at his popular restaurant ensconced in the residential Le Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal, just north of the park and mount for which the city is named.  As a young chef, Dammann set off to London to work for Jamie Oliver, and these quiet neighborhood streets remind him of his little corner there.  The commute is 45 minutes to an hour of rolling, fir-lined roads. Thinking time.  He wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Laurentian Mountains run through southern Quebec. They consist of Precambrian rocks over 540 million years old, making these soft peaks among the oldest in the world.(credit: Tourism Laurentians)

Eating at the bar and the sense of welcome it can cultivate in a restaurant is something important to us at Michael’s Genuine®, a feeling and approach to hospitality that Dammann shares.  When we knocked down the back bar in 2014 to make room for the now familiar horseshoe there today, it changed the entire dynamic of the dining room.  Everything opened up to the hearth and the energy shift was palpable.

“I love eating at the bar. It’s less serious and more convivial,” he explains.  “It takes a lot of pressure off —if you’re on a date, there’s other people to talk to.  Things come faster… Drinks come faster…. There should be lots of little things to look at. All the little details.  We added angled mirrors above the bar, and they reflect where we are, the street lamps and cars crawling in the snow.”

When he bought the place, there was nothing there except dirty carpets.  They ripped everything out and built the whole restaurant based around the bar.  They distressed it, made it look really old and lived in.  An enthusiast and practitioner of the national pastime, Dammann made sure there was a TV strategically placed so he could watch hockey from the pass.

“It’s something you think about when you get open. You feel out the space, where the best seats are in the restaurant,” he continues.  “Bar 1, 2 and 3 in the corner by the open kitchen were saved for walk-ins in the beginning. No one really wanted them at first. Now they’re the most sought-after in the house. There are people that hem and haw about sitting at the bar.  Then there are those that the bar speaks to. I’m one of those people. It says, ‘you’re going to have a good time tonight.'”

Next Thursday’s dinner for South Beach Wine & Food Festival will be his first time in Florida, but something tells us he’ll feel at home.  He tells of meeting Michael for the first time as his booth neighbor at one of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand chef events last year. They hit it off immediately.

“It’s one of those things that people say,” he notes. “‘You should come and do a dinner’ — and then you don’t hear from them.  But three weeks later, I got a call.”

In addition to the Marmitine oysters on the reception menu on February 22, he’s doing Smoked Mackerel with anchovy and lemon, a nod to his travels in Italy and affinity for the country of his mom’s heritage.

Spaghetti all’ubriaco.

“There are things in the flavor profiles you like that you either grow up with or you discover,” Dammann reflects.  “My grandmother’s house always had a lot of certain things — good salami, homemade pasta… It always stuck with me, the complex simplicity of it.  You can have the simplest spaghetti and tomato sauce and if you finish it with amazing olive oil, it kind of changes everything.  Canada is a big country. We don’t have white truffles, but we have insane pine mushrooms… They all go to Japan, they’re that special… We have 95% of the flour going to Italy for pasta. Lentils going to France, mustard sent to Dijon only to be turned around and sold back to us… It’s kind of crazy. This is a country full of prairies and rich resources.  Massive space for farming… You can stereotype the cuisine here, but we have a rich, hyper-regional history.”

The thing I find out about this chef is that, like a great bar, he’s disarming the moment you get acquainted.  It’s comfortable right out of the gate.  He’s also a good listener and answers questions thoughtfully, like he’s hearing them for the first time.  It’s like you’ve been friends for years. You want to take a seat, settle in and have a pint. He admits when he drinks beer, though, it’s really rare.

“It’s going to be a shitty after-hockey beer.  I just want something cold on tap and don’t care about the next new craft beer. I have people that actually care about that,” he says. “Maybe I’m crotchety, but I know what I like.”

Felix asked Dad to throw him in the lake.

He’s always been in love with the region his family now calls home — and the lake, Lac Barron, in particular.  He has fond memories of summers at a family cabin back home.  He always told himself that he wanted to live that lifestyle.  Now he wakes up some mornings to wild turkeys in the backyard. And there are plans for the place, rebuilding the shed, for one, this summer. He’ll fashion a wood stove inside so he can hang out in there when it’s minus 20 outside.  It’s a little piece of heaven he calls home, and that’s something we can toast a shitty beer to no matter what the weather.

Want a piece?  Dinner with Dammann, Kapur and Schwartz is almost sold out, but click here for tickets while you still can.

Chef Ravi Kapur Has One Serious Poke Face

Ravi Kapur has strong feelings about poke. As he should.

“In Hawaii it’s kind of… Well, it’s really a treat,” Ravi explains. “It’s not this mass-consumed, everyday thing necessarily, because really poke should be pretty expensive if you’re using high quality fish. For me growing up, it’s a celebratory thing.”

At now 3 year-old Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, this Oahu-born chef not only takes inspiration from his Hawaiian-Chinese-Indian roots, he takes them quite seriously.   Right off the bat this was pretty clear, even as we stole just few minutes in between phone tag on Wednesday.  There’s a sense of responsibility that informs his approach.  I have neither been to Hawaii nor eaten in his restaurant, but I have read Kapur is a chef-owner known for his cool, collected demeanor in the kitchen.  Schwartz had a great meal there. I get the feeling this attitude is an expression of the strength of his intention, to cook with principle and represent his culture correctly and with confidence.

Fresh fish, the best fish. From @liholihoyachtclub’s Instagram.

This means something to Kapur, that he stand for something and that his expression is one true to his identity as a Hawaiian.  We can relate to this — MS also stands for something, and akin to that.  It’s about quality and doing it right, or not at all.  This is in part why I began our conversation with poke. To poke a nerve.  With the relentless stream of DIY, paint-by-numbers, flavor-of-the-moment poke shops UberEatsing on my Miami doorstep, it’s also hard to ignore.

“The most important element for me is that the fish is extremely fresh and you let that flavor shine without covering it up with too many seasonings,” he continues. “The traditional version would not have soy sauce.  It would be Hawaiian salt, and sweet onion, and inamona or ground kukui nut.

From there he explains it can be embellished, which is fine, with a measured hand, as with most things. Seaweed, sure.  Still no seasoning though. You take this highly perishable product and then need to mask it when it’s inferior.  Often, when it’s about preserving meat or fish, something common all over the world to extend a product’s lifespan — typically out of necessity — it can be quite good.  But it’s transformed.  It’s no longer the thing it was.  For true poke, if you are using good quality there’s just no way it even can be mass produced — which is basically the benchmark for what my exposure has been to date, fast casual-style.  It becomes more about what you are putting on it, than what it is.

“I popped in one day to one of these places, because I’m interested in how they operate, how it flows,” Ravi explains.  “I understand the model, how this came to exist, but I’ll never do it because it’s in direct conflict to what I believe poke is.  I can’t wrap my head around culturally appropriating things for profit.  You won’t find sesame oil in traditional poke. I use some, but for me it’s always going to be all about the fish.”

The fish is Ahi traditionally, but now you can find all types, like Striped Marlin and large bill fish. It’s more sustainable too.  Ravi admits he just got back from Maui, and even there, there is a range of quality. Previously frozen… unknown origins at the supermarket. The place he goes to now, Kaohu store, will run you about $17, 18, 19  a pound.

“To me I taste the difference,” he adds.  “And you can see the fish.  It’s undressed.”

I don’t know about you, but I need my own #alohafloorselfie moment.

Ravi won’t know what species will greet him when he walks into Michael’s Genuine® on Thursday February 22, but he knows it will be fresh and that will produce the best first course on the plate whether it’s Cobia, Golden Tile or Little Tuny.  And there’s pork too, another ingredient that connects our food cultures.

“Absolutely. It’s pretty much pork all the time,” Ravi says.  “In the late 1800s, ranching formed a big part of the economy but beef is more expensive.  Pork is for everyone and it can be great and flavorful – it just depends on the pig and who’s raising it.  I’m doing something off the shoulder.  I like roasting those cuts and still having a little bite to it, so you can taste the meat. Some accents, of course, like chili honey rub for a little sweetness and spice.  I don’t think I told anybody, but I’m also bringing something else with me.”

We’re not giving that one away.  You, co-guest chef Derek Damman and hosts Michael and Tim will just have to squirm.  Now isn’t that cause for celebration? And some poke!  Find out for yourself.  For tickets and menu, visit sobefest.org/michaels.

Three Chefs Walk into a Restaurant to Make Dinner for South Beach Wine & Food Festival

 

Aloha!  Bonjour!  Bienvenidos.  On Thursday, February 22, the tasty punchline is on us!  Hawaiian-born Ravi Kapur of San Francisco’s Liholiho Yacht Club and Derek Dammann of Montreal’s Maison Publique join Michael Schwartz of Miami by way of Philly to cook dinner as part of the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  What brings people together is an interesting thing.  Is it happenstance or intention or a combination of both?  Our South Beach Wine & Food Festival dinner at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink celebrates this idea — what becomes of different flavors, influences and personalities when they come together from across the continent to make a meal and create an experience.  The creativity happens and the fun begins when disparate pieces form the whole you didn’t anticipate. It’s the excitement that happens when something feels so right for the very reasons it shouldn’t.  We are excited our neighborhood bistro can be the glue to bring such incredible talent together for a collaborative dinner. Ravi will bring big, colorful flavors from the west coast and Pacific and Derek, the cozy northern appeal of a polished but casual neighborhood pub.  Michael and executive Chef Tim Piazza will balance it all out.  Enjoy the four course menu below with reception, paired with Champagne Henriot, one of the few remaining family-owned houses with over two hundred years of independence.

Tickets are available for purchase here.  See you at 7PM!

Dinner hosted by Michael Schwartz, Ravi Kapur & Derek Dammann

RECEPTION

Local Poke, Sesame-Tamari, Spicy Mayo, Ginger, Octopus Puff
Ravi Kapur

Baked Oysters, Mushroom & Marmite
Derek Dammann

Crispy Baby Artichoke with Mint Yogurt
Michael Schwartz

Shaved Beef Tongue on Sesame Crostini with Onion, Peppers and Provolone
Michael Schwartz

DINNER

Charred Corn Salad
Cucumber, Pickled Green Tomato, Ricotta Salata, Romesco Sauce, Herbs
Michael Schwartz
~~

Smoked Mackerel,
Anchovy & Lemon
Derek Dammann

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Chili Honey Roasted Pork,
Chicken Fried Romano Beans, Mustard Seed Jus
Ravi Kapur

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Almond Clementine Cake
Citrus Crémeux Strawberries and Toasted Elder Flower Meringue
Michael Schwartz

Amara is Fired Up for a Proper Argentine Feast at South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Food in Argentina is not just a piece of meat.  And TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron along with Michael, Tamara, Director of Ops Eric Larkee and Amara at Paraiso executive chef Michael Paley had to wait until the last stop of their menu R&D trip to Buenos Aires this summer to find out at Proper Restaurant.

“They were the ones doing the fresh approach,” Brad explains of the Argentine capital’s brightest chefs. “No one else was doing it at the couple of newer places we visited.  We missed the vegetables, and it was one the the last meals we had. The one that almost got away.”

Now while Amara’s food is not exactly Argentine, nor meant to represent fully the traditional cuisines of Latin America, it is informed by the flavors and the techniques that make them unique.  This decidedly Schwartzian approach to what is largely known as a meat-centric culture felt familiar and exactly the inspiration — or connection — they didn’t even know they were looking for.  It was the last thing the team would have expected to encounter in this journey — which is precisely what journeys are for.

Now, of course to miss the meat would also be to miss the point of traveling to Argentina in the first place.  And there was plenty to be enjoyed, and it too came with discoveries to be made, especially in how beef is processed and butchered, and how this can affect what’s on a menu.  “Beef is processed for efficiency in America, cut in half and hung. There they get the whole animal and so cut a little bit differently and can get better steaks,” Brad continues.  “They have access to certain things from certain places that you just don’t see in the US. Things in our kitchens would just go into the wood chipper for burgers, which is delicious, sure, but we don’t benefit from access to the full muscles, to pull them apart and find the special places that can be featured in a dish.”

If there was an iconic cut of the Argentine menu it would be ribeye, and so at Amara there will be one that eats like it’s not the grass-fed you may have tried and sent back.  Read about that in our post on Joyce Farms. “If they had a big steak on the menu, that’s what they had,” Brad remembers. “We like ribeye, too.  It’s our favorite steak with the right amount of fat to meat ratio.”

Joyce Farms ribeye on the wood grill at Amara.

Michael and the team were so fired up about the eye-opening experience and simpatico team they met at Proper Restaurant that they had to share it with Miami in person. Huge thanks to Lee Schrager for getting on board, as well as our sponsors Esprit Du Vin Fine Wine Merchants. Join us South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Saturday, February 24 at 7 p.m.  Inspired by experiences in their travels to develop Amara’s menu, Chef and Amara executive chef Michael Paley will collaborate on a menu celebrating a new bright and fresh approach to traditional South American flavors and ingredients with Augusto Mayer and Samuel Alex Fitzgerald of the much buzzed about Buenos Aires-based eatery Proper.  $250 (gratuity included, tax is not) includes a waterfront reception with the chefs putting out snacks off the wood grill at sunset, followed by a three course dinner including dessert and paired wines from the Esprit du Vin Fine Wine Merchants portfolio, in the heart of downtown Miami. Click here for tickets and check out the menu here first!

Reception on the Beach Terrace
Grill Items: 4  items
Proper 1 – Provleta cheese with pickled dates and roasted onion and peppers
Proper 2 – Lamb cutlets with roasted eggplant and chermoula
Amara 1 – Amara Chorizo: Red, Verde, Seafood with mother sauces
Amara 2 – Grilled Oysters, farofa, vinaigrette

Dinner
First Course: Amara
Local Flounder Tartare, blood orange aguachile, radish, toasted pumpkin seed

Second Course: Proper
Dish 1 – preserved olives with roasted haricot vert
Dish 2 – Grilled calamari with broccoli and fermented bean aioli
Dish 3 – leek with pea purée fried garlic and pecorino
Third Course: Amara
Grilled Joyce Farms Grass Fed Ribeye, bone marrow, domingo rojo beans, malibar spinach, preserved sour orange

Dessert: Proper & Amara (alternating)
Proper- Flan of dulce de leche with soft cream
Amara- Ginger Guava Mille Feuille