Schwartz Readies His Beachside Manor Announcing New Restaurant at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach

The back porch at lobby and restaurant level.

COMO, estás. Today Michael is excited to announce a partnership with COMO Hotels and Resorts to open a new restaurant at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach later this year in the Traymore Restaurant and Gin Bar space at 2445 Collins Ave. In addition to rolling out new breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch menus, The Genuine Hospitality Group will oversee food and beverage throughout the property including in-room dining service. We have already begun to immerse ourselves in this beautiful new environment and are inspired to be back on Miami Beach where the spirit and soul is layered and strong. Opening is planned in time for the 2018-19 season.

“For us, it’s always about more than the food. But the food is really important!” Michael explains.  “We feel a kinship with what the COMO brand represents.  There is a commitment to both personalized service and reflecting the location of the property and its history in the space.  It’s about a holistic approach to creating a thoughtful experience for guests.”

As restaurant people, we are driven by the opportunity to create and feed off this energy, whether it’s an experience inside one of our existing spaces or developing a new one.  Despite the many projects that come across our desks, there are few that make sense to pursue — the right mix of timing, inspiration and resources, and of course how it impacts our people and the growth of the business at large.

COMO Metropolitan’s terrace, fronting a boardwalk the runs north between beach and the backyards of the buildings down Collins Ave (here facing south)

Name and concept will be announced soon, with an approach grounded in food you can feel good about eating, natural and balanced with global influences. Michael will collaborate with longtime partners at award-winning design firm Meyer Davis Studio – designers of Amara at Paraiso and the forthcoming restaurant at Park Grove – to refresh the space, celebrating its art deco past and the integrity of existing design elements.

The view from the pool (behind) back to the hotel (facing west).

COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach is a 74-room hotel occupying an original 1930s building located in the heart of the city’s famous art deco district. The hotel has direct access to the beach and a private swimming pool, two restaurants, and a COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa. Located on Collins Avenue and 24th Street, the views stretch across the Atlantic to the east or the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, flooding rooms with Miami Beach sunshine. Interiors are by the Italian designer Paola Navone, who preserved the hotel’s art deco heritage and contrasted it with an urbane, contemporary spirit in shades of peppermint green and dusky grey with surfaces of cool white marble and shining chrome. Traymore, the hotel’s headline restaurant, offers fine Floridian seafood and the signature Traymore Bar showcases over 30 artisanal gins. The COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa features four treatment rooms and a rooftop hydrotherapy pool.

The COMO Group, headquartered in Singapore, represents Christina Ong’s unique vision of contemporary living. The Group encompasses the hospitality collection, COMO Hotels and Resorts, which offers personalised luxury travel experiences through individualised service, a commitment to holistic wellness, and award-winning cuisine. Each hotel is developed in response to the destination it inhabits. The Group also includes the international luxury fashion retailer Club 21, the award-winning wellness concept COMO Shambhala, and the philanthropic COMO Foundation. Get a glimpse of their beautiful destinations and follow along for the adventures on Instagram @comohotels.

Bowled Over By Inspiration? For Chef Bradley Herron, It’s Right Under Your Nose.

Tuna Bowl, constructed.

Ever made a “garbage salad”?  The Genuine Hospitality Group’s Culinary Director Bradley Herron has.  Head scratch?  It’s not what you’re thinking.  Or maybe it is?

Perhaps you’ve had this moment, too, standing in front of a refrigerator looking for something good to eat and the landscape is bleak — a few lonely remains, a couple of scallions here and a half a lemon there, the bundle of parsley looking more like a bushel, and mismatched jars with innards haggard like the end of the DMV line.  It’s the look of resignation.  But this is not what everyone sees in what’s left on shelves or hidden in the pantry. If you’re Brad, you just need a stainless mixing bowl and boom! You are the envy of the office with special requests for lunch.

“Cleaning house.  It’s how we like to do things here over the course of a week, and it’s how the tuna bowl happened.” Brad explains to me on the line at Michael’s Genuine last Friday. “I saw this bag of wild rice sitting around waiting to die and thought about what we could make with it.  It starts with what you have, not always what you can order, and goes from there.  We can supplement with a few special things and make something really delicious. Cooking creatively is usually always about cooking smart.”

Vegetarian’s delight — Grain Bowl with sprouts, calabaza, radish, avocado, sambal

Lunch’s Tuna Bowl, and its Grain Bowl counterpart at dinner, snuck up on the menu over the past couple of weeks and have been a big hit at the office and in the dining room.  On Friday, fresh yellowfin came very finely chopped with seasonings including sambal, an Indonesian chile sauce we love for its intensity of flavor (mostly due to fish sauce).  The bowl is then constructed with a foundation of mixed grains including wild rice, red quinoa and farro onto which sliced cucumbers and radishes, nice looking hydroponic arugula, shaved white onions, bean sprouts and alfalfa, butter lettuce and a hulking half scoop of cubed avocado are packed. A favorite Vietnamese dressing, also fish sauce based, nuoc cham, is drizzled liberally.  Last week, the Tuna Bowl popped on Instagram with tail feathers of green and purple on display in baby fire sorrel.

“Yea, and it’ll have different things next week, too,” Brad continues.  “It’s a different way of looking at the recipe development process — maybe even backwards from the perspective of someone who is used to looking up recipes in a book and shopping for ingredients to conceive a menu.  But it makes for an efficient and creative kitchen, and there’s no reason why cross utilization shouldn’t apply to the home cook looking to eliminate waste and maximize flavor. Lots of cost savings, too.”

Teach a man to load the ingredient wall — left to right — from ripe, to ripening. This process brings back of house and front of house together to make the dining room stand for something (beautiful) and function properly for cooks in need of ingredients as the tickets come in.

What initially piqued my interested in Brad’s bowls was the idea of what makes for a good one. There is a formula, and it’s not how your corner “poke” shop does it DIY, a recipe for over doing it. Simplicity and restraint, sure, but really it’s about one thing — balance. At Michael’s Genuine it produces successful menus from the practicality and practice of cross utilization and is the essential notion all of our Genuine kitchens are built on. This is why the bowl canvas is so apt.  For our cooks, this idea informs the roadmap for every single dish.  It’s about the interplay of texture, color, flavor and temperature to create contrast and, if not thoughtfully considered, is what can make or break even a technically perfect one.

Look for more bowl variations to come, as well as what’s new for Miami Spice beginning August 1, posted daily @michaelsgenuine and where we now have a video of the tuna bowl assembly.

Bowls on fire at MGFD. What combo is up next?

If You Don’t Know, Now You Dough at Genuine Pizza® | Chef’s Aventura Pizza Class is in Session!

Summer is just the time to learn something new, or polish your skills doing what you already love!  All you need is a little motivation in the form of a great instructor James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz!  It’s time for pizza-making class at Genuine Pizza.  Miami’s beloved chef known best for his straightforward, delicious food at flagship restaurant Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink and now casual pizza restaurant Genuine Pizza, teaches you how to make it amazing from dough to table, with a meal along the way. Make your own pizzas, with toppings just the way you want them and enjoy dinner in good company on Thursday, July 19 from 7-10 pm at our Aventura Mall location.

Tickets are now available for purchase here. Price of $79 includes everything with a wooden pizza paddle signed by Chef and home pizza-making kit with recipes and ingredients to take home (tax & gratuity, too).

Pizza Making Activity Menu, served family-style

PASSED SNACKS
meatballs in sauce – piave vecchio
polenta fries – spicy ketchup
lollipop chicken wings – agrodolce, rosemary crema
roasted red pepper crostini

SALAD, served family style
escarole caesar – lemon, anchovy, bread crumbs
baby spinach – tomato, walnuts, roasted red peppers, egg, bacon, feta dressing

PIZZA
make your own!
assorted toppings

DESSERT, served individually
panna cotta

Beer, wine and sangria

Genuine Pizza Aventura is located at 19565 Biscayne Blvd Unit 956, Aventura, FL 33180, in the new Zara wing on the first floor in the outside, next to The Haas Brothers Gorillas in the Mist sculpture and Carsten Holler’s Aventura Slide Tower. We have indoor and outdoor seating, and parking is available in the free parking garage at NE 29th Place and Abigail Road!

An All American Summer at Michael’s Genuine® Begins with Burgers & Brats for Fourth of July Week & Miami Spice

Lychees arrived and mangos are beginning to hit now, but the true sign of summer is when monster calabaza of all shapes, sizes and coats of paint roll in, a jaunty color guard roll for Michael’s Genuine ingredient wall.  Well, they’re here, and so are two opportunities to take advantage of the season at our flagship: Fourth of July Week specials and Miami Spice.

Jaunty alright.

Burgers & Brats for Fourth of July Week — From Monday, July 2 to Sunday, July 8 for lunch and dinner only, Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza is bringing back his cheeseburger of 2017 National Burger Month fame and adding a dog companion.  The All American Double Cheeseburger includes 2, 4oz patties, American cheese, bacon, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and pickles on a Martin’s potato roll for $22.  In the dog department we have Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard on a Martin’s potato bun for $16 with choice or fries or greens.  At dinner, it’s plated with grilled sourdough.  We fancy.

Miami Spice — From August 1 to September 30, enjoy weekly-changing 3-course prix fixe menus. MGFD will offer lunch for $23 Monday through Thursday and dinner for $39 Sunday through Thursday, including supplements from our regular menu at special prices for those who partake in this annual city-driven restaurant promotion. Highlights include Crispy Okra with pimento cheese, Steak Salad with kimchi, butter lettuce and peanuts, and Marinated Cherry Tartine with roasted shallot, fresh ricotta and thyme. For lunch, it’s really just about the return of the Falafel Wrap. Having gone down the Instagram rabbit hole to no avail, we take solace in beholding her soon once again for all the world to see and enjoy.

 

Kneading Lessons & a Learning Legacy on the Road with the Vetri Family

Growth happens when we are exposed to new things — or sometimes, the same things but new ways of doing them.  When we have those with the experience, passion and patience to teach us, something beautiful happens in the exchange.  An invitation to cook at the annual Great Chefs Event for Alex’s Lemonade Stand in Philadelphia last week presented such an opportunity for The Genuine Hospitality Group culinary assistant Dillion Wolff — to stage at Vetri Cucina, thanks to Michael and friend Marc Vetri.  A chef respected by his peers for his talent and heart, Marc has cultivated a stable of acclaimed chefs and restaurants since his flagship Vetri Cucina opened in Philly in 1998. It’s hard enough to be a for-profit business in this business, so 20 years is many lifetimes in the restaurant world, especially when you are also running a foundation in tandem.  Vetri Cucina set the tone and proved a solid foundation from which to build, recognized for the level of care taken in honoring and elevating the traditional Italian kitchen.  Its special tasting menu has minted this gem in the canon of American dining and won multiple James Beard Awards for its offspring, Jeff Michaud and Mike Solomonov to name a few.  If Marc is the OG progenitor, Vetri Cucina is the primordial Italian wedding soup.

The dining experience at Vetri is an ode to the mother country and its love of food unlike any other. In addition to the dining room, guests can arrange for private dinners, as well as partake in cooking classes on site.  As Dillion found out, perhaps the education most important happens daily among its cooks in service — a recipe of teamwork and technique.  It’s a place where bread, pasta and even polenta made from scratch means milling the flour in house.

“Going into it there were a few things I was curious about, like making fresh pasta, for example,” Dillion reflected on the phone Monday.  “How they run service is so different than Harry’s or Genuine Pizza — even Michael’s Genuine or Amara.  We are talking a 30 seat restaurant where 40 covers is a crazy busy night.”

TGHG Culinary Director Bradley Herron snagged Dillion for his team in February 2017 from Michael’s Genuine, where he had been working the line for a year after interning there during culinary school.  The culinary assistant role is a unique one, providing support to all Genuine group entities — from Amara at Paraiso to Fi’lia in the Bahamas to our commissary kitchen — with ongoing training, their chefs with last minute help on the line, working Michael Schwartz Events including private parties from cocktail receptions to cooking classes and off-site catering, and handling special projects.  Really everything under the sun.  Most recently, Dillion worked with the Genuine Pizza cookbook team on a week-long photoshoot.  The 150 pictures of recipes and lifestyle shots due to publisher Abrams Books quickly became 180, including several step by step instructive images for which he and colleague Brandon Green served not only as prep cooks but subjects.

Some of the Genuine Pizza cookbook photo wall, most of Dillion’s hands!

“This job requires flexibility and versatility, but it demands a good attitude,” Bradley explained.  “You have to be able to jump in to help and get things done at a moment’s notice, and they need to be done right. Dillion is as fast as he is proficient, but these are strengths that as a cook you always want to be improving upon.  That comes with experience, time on the line and repeated exposure to new environments and things.”

Dinner at Vetri is conceived based on each table, and everything isn’t the same.  The on the fly structure is part of the challenge, the fun and the instruction.

“It was cool to see how dynamic the approach is with the tasting menu,” Dillion reflects.  “It’s not just what the chef wants to do, it’s trying to make the diner’s experience as custom and to their tastes and food preferences as possible.”

The first day, Dillion was a fly on the wall for service, and they would make him an extra of each dish to taste. Tuesday was spent with the baker, milling fresh flour and baking bread.  He worked service with “pasta guy” and also helped with private events upstairs.

“Matt, the executive chef… On Monday he was the dishwasher.  I mean, it really sets the tone when the first courses come in heavy and the pasta cook comes in to help put it out.  You could tell in the kitchen that it was a huge team effort,” he reflected. “Everyone will do whatever. The whole operation is impressive, the attention to detail and craft but also people being genuine with each other — and incredibly welcoming to me.  They didn’t want to ask me to do things, like the stuff that’s not glamorous, and I’m there to work and to do anything. I had so many questions and no one got annoyed with me!”

The City of Brotherly Love indeed. Something we can all benefit from emulating!  Follow Dillion on Instagram @dillion_wolff.