Your Spiny Lobster Passport is the Harry’s Pizzeria® Special Pizza Next Week

Next time check your lobster’s passport to fully appreciate where it comes from. Florida lobster season as regulated commercially and recreationally by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and spans August to March, allowing for spawning in the off months.  The crustacean itself is actually Panulirus argus or “spiny lobster”.  Characteristic for its abundant tail (meat!) and very long, thick, spiny antennae, the spiny lobster and its clawed doppelganger the true Maine lobster aren’t as related as you might think.  In fact, Caribbean lobster is more accurate than Florida, which really refers to the regulatory season itself and the jurisdiction of fisheries.

“Oh they’re walkers,” fisherman George Figueroa explained on the phone this morning. “Lobster will walk hundreds of miles, from Mexico, you name it. Sometimes the traps are empty in the Keys and Bahamas, and then they’re full all of a sudden, so those were probably in Cuba.”

This begins to make a lot of sense when you consider the fossil record of spiny lobsters has been extended by the discovery in 1995 of a 110-million-year-old fossil near El Espiñal in Chiapas, Mexico.

George explains that lobsters generally look for habitats to hide, whether it’s a reef or something artificial. Divers will tend to catch them in the first month.  Then as they do their walks at night, searching for food, fishermen lay traps in a desolate area so the trap then becomes the habitat — often baiting it with a lobster to make it more inviting for these social, pack travelers. The 2017-18 season is starting kind of weak, and they’ve been hauling several hundred pounds a week. Come January and February, supply will taper off.

We always are looking to feature ingredients at their freshest, and spiny lobster is one of those seasonal moments we look forward to each year.  Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza has be working it into the Michael’s Genuine® menu in a number of ways, from daily pasta specials to raw bar.  But when Michael shot an email out last week that he was thinking a lobster pizza for Harry’s, we knew we needed to make it happen!  TGHG executive Chef Bradley Herron jumped on it, from vacation no less, getting his troops together to source product, recipe test and ultimately implement a plan to launch in all three locations.  Chefs Max Makowski, Megan Hess and Dillion Wolff are championing the effort to make it happen, working with our commissary kitchen to process 100 pounds or about 150 tails including cutting the shell, cooking sous vide in butter and thyme, and getting to the Harry’s kitchen managers complete with recipe cards and training for a smooth consistent introduction.  Making changes to menus gets more challenging as we grow, so this process is essential to ensure the end game lives up to the initial intention.

Enjoy a taste of the result as Harry’s Pizzeria celebrates the start of the season in Florida Lobster Pizza with braised leeks, Calabrian chiles, fontina and scallions as next week’s special pie.  It will run Monday, August 21 to Sunday, August 27 at all three locations for $21.  How’s that for an exercise in knowing where your food comes from?  Watch as the chefs test a couple versions yesterday on @harryspizzeria here, and get those juices flowing.  George’s Trigger Seafood in another astonishing turn of events has added an Instagram account, so be sure to show him some love too as you enjoy the fruits of his labor!

A slice of Harry’s Pizzeria® for Miami Beach

1680 Meridian Avenue and Michael Schwartz (credit: The Real Deal)

More Harry’s, more fun!  As reported by The Real Deal yesterday afternoon, we’re excited about our next signed lease in our neighborhood American pizzeria brand’s expansion — especially since it’s in the Schwartz family backyard on the Beach!  Located at 1680 Meridian Avenue, the space is ground level and will include outdoor seating, just like we like it!  At 2,500 square feet, Miami Beach will join our current three locations, in the Miami Design District, Coconut Grove and at Downtown Dadeland, as well as announced restaurants in Aventura, Sunrise, Atlanta and Cleveland.  Opening is slated in our timeline for fall 2018.  For news and updates, follow #HPMiamiBeach.  And check out our biggest Marra Forni rotator pizza oven yet at 7,100 pounds, which was delivered at the crack of dawn to our forthcoming Aventura Mall location this morning, here.

Amara at Paraiso, Quintessential Miami Restaurant with Waterfront Dining, Opening November 2017

Amara at Paraiso, rendered. Our dining room view from the entrance, with open kitchen to the left and bar to the right, and the main ingredient front and center — Biscayne Bay. Out the doors to the left, outdoor seating on the water.

Chef and Restaurateur Michael Schwartz announces his first waterfront restaurant, Amara at Paraiso, the James Beard Award-winner’s love letter to Miami.  Amara at Paraiso will open in November at 3101 NE 7th Avenue on Biscayne Bay in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, creating the quintessential Miami dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe. The bayside enclave will be fully open to the public and has inspired Chef and his team to cultivate a menu influenced by the bold flavors of Latin America, coastal ingredients, and the diversity that underpins Miami’s cultural identity.

“Amara at Paraiso is about the dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty that defines why we live here and why so many love to visit,” says Schwartz. “We are in the unique position to bring it all together, a sense of place that can only exist here.  It’s our love letter to Miami and why we are proud to call it home.”

Highlighting the open kitchen’s wood grill and Josper charcoal grill oven, Schwartz is building a vibrant menu around bold, clean-eating food, and cooking techniques centered around the flame. Dishes emphasize balance of acid and contrasts in temperatures and textures. Ingredients are showcased as they are meant to be enjoyed, enhanced by fragrant herbs, bright sauces, chilies and spices. Freshly-grilled, sprouted flatbreads and hand-formed savory pastries will meet sizzling, smoky platters of specialty cuts of meats and fresh, local seafood at the table. Cocktails crafted with the tropics in mind will spill good spirits out to the bay, mingling with sea grape trees and palms dotting the shore.

Flanked by Paraiso Park, Amara at Paraiso resides just two blocks east of Biscayne Boulevard off 31st Street, offering the public unimpeded access to its entrance with street and valet parking. The 4,500 square foot, indoor-outdoor space designed by Meyer Davis Studio celebrates the natural beauty of its surroundings incorporating the tropical, waterfront environment as an design element. The restaurant includes main dining room and bar seating for 150, with floor to ceiling windows offering dramatic Biscayne Bay views, as well as deck seating for 70 on the water. The approach is warm and inviting, drawing the outside in with white washed paneling, natural woods, and graphic concrete tiles. Detailing is open, honest and relaxed with exposed trusses, and an open double-height steel stair.

For more information visit amaraatparaiso.com and follow for updates on opening and inspiration for the restaurant @amaraatparaiso.

The Philadelphia-born owner of The Genuine Hospitality Group (TGHG), James Beard Award-winning Chef, and cookbook author, Michael Schwartz is the face of the South Florida restaurant industry and a nationally recognized celebrity chef. Locals and tourists alike have come to embrace and crave his sincere and thoughtful approach to the entire dining experience and seriously good food.  At the root of this philosophy and a lens for growth is flagship Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink in the Miami Design District, setting the bar in Miami for 10 years with its laid back bistro atmosphere, emphasis on sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients, and lively bar scene and courtyard. Michael has since successfully developed complementary fine dining concepts including honest Italian at Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz at SLS Brickell in Downtown Miami (October, 2016), the quintessential Miami restaurant with waterfront dining at Amara at Paraiso at Paraiso Bay in Edgewater (November 2017) and the ultimate neighborhood restaurant in Coconut Grove at Park Grove (2018.)  Harry’s Pizzeria® is the group’s American pizzeria, challenging pizza traditions with a thoughtful passion for genuinely better pizza and meals to gather around it. Named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 25 Best Pizzerias in the U.S., the group’s casual concept is charting a course for regional expansion to 20 locations by 2020, with three currently open in South Florida in the Miami Design District (September 2011,) Coconut Grove (2015,) and Kendall’s Downtown Dadeland (2017.) Ella (2015) is a light and airy café in the Miami Design District’s Palm Court serving breakfast, lunch and early evening bites, curating pastries from the best local bakers in town and a convenient grab and go station with healthy alternatives. The Chef’s partnership with global cruise leader Royal Caribbean began in 2011 developing menus with ingredients from sustainable sources for 150 Central Park on Oasis Class ships and now includes the gastropub evolution of Michael’s Genuine, Michael’s Genuine® Pub, on Quantum Class ships. Michael Schwartz Events offers catering and private parties, with genuine food and hospitality for memorable occasions. TGHG has been recognized by leading trade publication Restaurant Hospitality magazine as one of its RH 25: Coolest Multi-Concept Companies.  For more information, visit thegenuinekitchen.com.

Pesto in Your Pie Whole | A Slice of Harry’s Pizzeria® at a Whole Foods Market Near You This Summer

Harry’s pesto pizza has been a staple on the menu at Michael’s American pizzeria since day one. Might have something to do with his favorite ingredient!

Sometimes things start from a seed and grow in the right ways when you care for them, like our partnership with Wellness in the Schools.  It’s especially gratifying when the results are sweetened by a delicious and surprising biproduct, like the Harry’s Pizzeria® Pesto Pizza turning up at Whole Foods Market’s South Florida stores beginning this weekend!

As fearless founder Nancy Easton’s New York City-based non profit heads into its second school year of work here in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, we are more poised than ever to improve cafeteria food one lunch at a time working with a task force of local chefs.  Thanks to shared values — and love of good food — we found ourselves at the table with Whole Foods Market, even matching its pledge of 5% of sales on January 10 to raise a combined $44,000 and further WITS’ penetration down here.  Huge thanks to Michael and Harry’s Holdings CEO Sunil Bhatt for their commitment to this cause!

In the spirit of getting to know each other better and having some fun since, well, that’s what summer is for, you can now enjoy the Pesto Pizza by the slice and whole pie available for purchase at all 13 Whole Foods Market Pizza Bars from Palm Beach County down to Miami-Dade.  Pick up a recipe card to try your hand at home with all the ingredients, including dough, heirloom tomatoes and Mozzarita mozzarella, sourced right there in the store.  You can also purchase Michael’s dough fresh at all three Harry’s Pizzeria locations.  Thank you to the Florida region’s Carlye Wisliceny, marketing field coordinator and Brian Collaro, prepared foods coordinator and WITS Chef, for the opportunity.  It’s been a fun exercise pulling it together, and we couldn’t do it right without The Genuine Hospitality Group’s culinary team to support on recipes and training from chef Megan Hess in-store.  For participating Whole Foods Market stores near you including hours, visit its website or your nearest Google toolbar.  Make sure to tag #summeratharrys, @wholefoodsmiami and @harryspizzeria to share your slice of the pie!

Whole Hog, Full Circle | Chef Matt Hinckley’s Fancy Meats Kickstarter Campaign is Live

Planting new seeds. The Schwartz family hosted a little homecoming BBQ in the spring with Matt. He brought goodies.

Matt back in the day in his happy place, the oven station at MGFD rocking a brunch tortilla.

The prolific marriage of inspiration and efficiency can’t be found in the vacuum of one dish alone.  It’s the full circle approach where sourcing is king that Michael lives by, and that produces the kind of menu that makes sense.  You know it because it defines Michael’s Genuine®.  This too speaks to nature of the talent that is drawn to work in our restaurant and comprise a team that will practice it every day.  A simple way to guarantee action, that this idea actually plays out, is by bringing ingredients in WHOLE… to work with everything, and in that, know where they were raised, how and by whom.  It’s a built in way to keep us honest and a tool for cultivating this culture in the kitchen both for veterans and newcomers.  Today we celebrate the whole big picture, which when we are lucky, extends to those who have moved on from the seed of Genuine to sew their own.  Like Chef Matt Hinckley.

Matt’s Orlando-based operation, Hinckley’s Fancy Meats is taking a next big step to completing its own circle.  He has secured approval by the Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) as a Retail Meat Market and is putting the systems in place to begin shipping his nose-to-tail, sustainably-sourced products — with a focus on charcuterie made with heritage hog breeds that are responsibly-raised on small farms in Florida — nationwide.  Click here to support his Kickstarter campaign, which went live this morning.  You have 29 more days to donate for one-of-a-kind opportunities like a Michael’s Genuine Trunk Show when Matt returns to the wood oven at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink for one night only. Hinckley’s Fancy Meats will have a pop-up trunk show with a sneak peek at what you can expect in the mail. $100 guarantees you a reservation, a menu signed by the whole team, and a pound of Hinckley’s Fancy Bacon.  But what of that $7,500 or more pledge for a Caja China Superbowl Fiesta wherein he sources a sustainably-raised 60-70 lb. heritage breed pig from a small, independent Florida farm and roasts it whole for you and up to 60 of your closest friends at your 2018 Superbowl party!?  Butcher’s block and a bunch of condiments, service right off the coals, included.

For me, Matt was always the resident food anthropologist during his tenure as Sous Chef at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink from 2009-2011 (and later opening chef of the original Harry’s Pizzeria®.)  Thanks to Matt, Lamb stew would become something way more than an aromatic pot of goodness.   It was a trip not just to Africa, but specifically Morocco in the cous cous and Ethiopia in the awaze.  His dedication to knowledge has been transportive, taking him around the world and bringing it to the table for all of us to enjoy.  In a December 2010 post on The Genuine Kitchen, he wrote of our pasta program and how it expressed what MGFD was all about — a perfect canvas for cross utilizing product and using different parts of one animal, like a whole pig. “Food tastes better when you are in touch with the source,” he would explain, and as such cooking begins long before ingredients are in the kitchen.

This is Hinckley’s Fancy Meats’ rallying cry, providing fresh cuts of meat as well as various types of charcuterie and smoked meats. Popular signature items thus far have been Tasso Ham, Hinckley’s Fancy Bacon, Florida Ham, Grass-fed Pastrami, Breakfast Sausage, and Andouille.  Matt makes seasonal creations and limited runs, a nose-to-tail butcher shop, but with plenty of familiar offerings as well, crafted with the home cook in mind.  The funding will help Hinckley’s Fancy Meats purchase the necessary equipment and supplies to expand its business model and steward the mission. By offering shipping and delivery, Matt will be able to drastically expand his market and work toward making a better and more transparent food system.  It’s about opening access for the home cook to have access to the same quality ingredients that chefs use in the best restaurants in the country.  We can all get behind that.