Slow Fires at Cypress Tavern | Chef Justin Smillie’s Cookbook Dinner & Upland Miami Preview


Chef Justin Smillie is coming to town, and he’s making a stop with Schwartz first! Before Upland — the restaurant he opened in NYC with Stephen Starr, named after his hometown in California — opens in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood later this fall, we will welcome him for a cookbook dinner and preview of the deliciousness to come.  Join us Tuesday, October 25 at 7pm for Slow Fires at Cypress Tavern. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE HERE TODAY!  Included for $195 are passed canapes, welcome cocktail, 4 plated courses including wine pairings, a signed cookbook, and tax and gratuity.  And Justin’s company of course!


Cypress Tavern chef de cuisine Max Makowski knows what's up. He had his copy long before we confirmed Justin!

Cypress Tavern chef de cuisine Max Makowski knows what’s up. He had his copy long before we confirmed Justin!

Drawing on his rural youth — the rustic elements of the outdoors including regular camping trips, foraging for wild ingredients, and fly-fishing — for inspiration, Justin worked his way through some pretty incredible kitchens to get where he is today, making his own mark. From Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen to Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern and Jonathan Waxman’s Washington Park and Barbuto, he fell in love with the bold flavors and rustic techniques showcased in the restaurant, and this philosophy would stick with him. We too got bitten by the Smillie bug after memorable meals at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, where he earned three stars from The New York Times.

In November 2015, the chef released Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill. His first book, which is published by Clarkson Potter, explores the fundamental techniques of braising, roasting, and grilling–and shows you how to see them in new ways, to learn the rules to break them.  We can’t wait to do just that after trying to wrangle Justin for what seems like forever. Can’t believe it’s happening. Pinch yourself. It’s real!

A quick note on ticketing for this event: We are pleased to try out Mixstir for the first time, a South Florida-based company (which we are always happy to support!) with an easy-to-use and beautiful e-ticketing interface. We think you’ll think it’s a great improvement, too.  Please email me your feedback if you’d like at  We are eager to hear what you think, and look forward to seeing you on October 25!

#SOBEWFF Reflections and a Recipe: The Chicken & The Egg Together at Last

This past week was filled with food and fun at the 14th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  In true Michael Schwartz fashion, The Genuine Hospitality Group participated in a few genuine ways. There were the pre-parties — our two pop-up dinners unaffiliated with the festival but tied to it in spirit and in genuine people like Chris Cosentino and his motley crew (Jonnatan and Zach!) at Harry’s for Cockscomb Pizzeria. There was the amazing human Richard Betts and his Carla, to keep us on our toes with wine, tequila and mezcal at The Wine Room, and a pool game or three at Club Deuce.

Then we participated in two festival events, the first of which was Michael’s at the Perez Art Museum Miami with Cobaya, Zimmern & Co., and of course more San Francisco shenanigans. Then Hedy closed out with Death by Chocolate on Saturday night, as sweet a finish as it gets with Dallas, Devin and Kump, all documented by Tess. Saturday night was also our last unofficial festival activity at Taquiza, a taco stand for the purists. Ellie Groden, former TGHG all-star summed it up best with her Instagram:

step 1. ask some of the best chefs in miami to make a taco.
step 2. show up with @chefmschwartz and all the chefs send you their tacos
step 3. eat all the tacos.
I think I ate them all twice. @midtownchinese was my fave. thanks @taquizamiami #tacoheaven #sobewff and thanks the rest of you for already having dinner @tamazonn @thebillyharris @jackiesayet @jen_davidsonnyc @ericsaltz

Now you can make Roel’s guest taco at home, with the recipe below. And visit Taquiza, too, for housemade tortillas from blue masa, ground daily using responsibly sourced Masienda landrace corn from Michoacán, Mexico.  We like it fried up in Totopos with guac and a pint of Gringolandia Super Pils from 5 Rabbit Brewery.  Oh, those beautiful baby blues.

Roel’s Chicken Adobo Tacos with Egg Salad

makes 12 tacos

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 fresh bay leaves
1 star anise
2 large organic brown chicken eggs
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, shaved
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Shaved radishes for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
1 dozen Corn Tortillas for serving

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil so it thinly coats the bottom of the pan. Season the thighs with salt and pepper. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken skin side down and sear until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add onions, garlic and tomatoes. Let them sweat, cooking until the onions are translucent but not browning, about 5-7 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, star anise and 1 cup of water and gently simmer for 1.5 hours or until the chicken is tender and the liquid reduced until mostly evaporated.

While the chicken is braising, make your egg salad. Fill a 2 quart pot with water and bring to boil. Gently lower the eggs into boiling water. After 7 minutes use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs into an ice bath and allow the eggs to cool. Softly tap the egg against a counter to crack the shell and carefully peel. If the shell is supremely stuck, run the egg under cold water to loosen. Pass the eggs though a metal strainer to slice. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, tomato, onion and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the thighs with tongs to a plate to cool, then shred and mix the tender chicken back in with the braising liquid. To assemble the tacos, place a ½ cup of the chicken on a warm tortilla top with egg salad mixture and garnish with radish and cilantro. Enjoy!

Chef at Home: Roel Alcudia’s Familia Filipino

IMG_2157“I feel like all my training and time working in professional kitchens has brought me back to where I began. It’s like I’m finally ready to be able to cook the food my great grandmother would make me.”

So if our chef de cuisine at The Cypress Room Roel Alcudia has come home at last, his is a fitting first post for our new blog series exploring the formative influences outside our restaurant kitchens that make our chefs who they are today.

Alcudia was born in 1979 in Iloilo, the heart of the Visayas region of The Philippines where milkfish from the ponds outside the city center find a place at the dinner table. Visayas forms the geographical heart of this archipelago of the South Pacific, and if it sounds Spanish you’re right on.  Settled and colonized by Spain after Ferdinand Magellan’s arrival in 1521, The Philippines today has a population of about 100 million people and is the seventh-most populated country in Asia — the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas, comprising one of the world’s largest diasporas. So why as a cuisine does its identity so often go misunderstood – or not known period in our global dining consciousness?

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“The Filipino people are excellent chameleons,” explains Alcudia.  “It’s a culture that has existed in a firmly rooted identity crisis since colonization.  We know how to assimilate. Maybe too well.”

Alcudia grew up in a family of farmers, raising cattle, pigs and chickens and growing indigenous fruits and vegetables. The kitchen was his great grandmother Enicita Segovia’s.  She cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday for the house and the workers at the farm with whatever she could forage in the fields and whatever they might have on hand. Alcudia now credits this early experience with teaching him the importance and appreciation of the delicate balance of where our food comes from.  “We ate what we had and not what we wanted,” he reflects.

It was a lesson easily forgotten when his immediate family moved to NYC in the winter of 1992, with consumer culture at a fever pitch.  Like most middle class immigrants, achieving the American dream in the States was the end game, and it was done humbly and with hard work.  Alcudia’s dad Roque was a commercial fisherman in the Pacific Northwest and commuted to see the kids in mom Eleanor’s care as often as he could, about 4 to 6 times a year in 2 to 4 week increments.  Alcudia soon focused his attention on fine art, from rogue beginnings in graffiti.  He studied classical realism and oil painting at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. It wasn’t until age 21, late in the chef game, that he decided cooking was his calling.  He enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in 2002, which would set him on a path to become the chef he is today.

Alcudia’s pedigree is very New York and very classic, by the book.  Per se… Craft… Veritas… Barbuto… He found his way as a young chef in a rich layer cake of high-end restaurants, training with only the best chefs right out of the gate.  Colicchio… Jean Georges…  You’ll recognize the names of his peers from that journey, too; they form today’s supernova of culinary stars-in-the-making leading kitchens from New York City (Justin Smillie, Upland) to Los Angeles (Matt Molina, Mozza.). In May 2005 an intimate 65 seat restaurant called Veritas is where Alcudia found his first real home with chef/partner Scott Bryan as his mentor.

“Through him I learned the virtues of humility and integrity while practicing and honing the flawless technique that he implemented and demanded from his staff,” Alcudia reflects.  And when he was ready to leave, it was Bryan who led him to Jonathan Waxman and the simple, stripped down approach that would provide a necessary counterpoint to all that structure, a balance to his culinary point of view.  It’s where we ultimately found him, three plus years in as chef de cuisine, with a perfectly cooked 20 pound striped bass for Michael’s Lemon: NYC table to show for himself.  He didn’t bleep it up, as Chef likes to say.  An offer to chef The Cypress Room soon followed.  Timing was right, we had the Waxman seal of approval, and Alcudia packed up his life and moved to Miami.

“I’m starting to feel comfortable as a chef,” Alcudia explains.  “My approach is unique. I don’t really have a point of reference. It’s kind of how I feel on a given day. The food can kind of switch from French to Italian to Spanish in like a second.”

On my visit, it was all about home, and Alcudia chose three dishes to make reflective of his native culture and food he’d eat at as a young boy. Each dish is simple enough for the home cook to make at home without an exact recipe. We shopped on 163rd street at the Asian Market conveniently positioned on Chinatown row across from King Palace BBQ, a Cantonese style haunt he frequents for the best kind of day or night off comfort food with sous chef Mike Beltran.  You can shop there too and maybe stop in next door for some post-marketing lotus root with king mushroom (a personal favorite!)  Practice will make the dishes below perfect, or, even better, will make them your own.

Lumpia: Crispy spring rolls made with shrimp and pork, wrapped in wonton sheets, fried until golden and served with sweet chili sauce which he prefers store bought (“It’s just like making your own ketchup. It always ends up tasting like BBQ sauce…”)  You want a 2 : 1 shrimp : pork ratio.  This is aggressively minced with carrot, onion and garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Working with one sheet at a time, separate a wonton wrapper from its stack and lay on a clean work surface.  Paint the two edges meeting at a right angle away from you and form a long baton of filling about two inches from you. Don’t overfill your wonton wrappers. Begin rolling and folding in the edges like a tiny burrito. Roll to seal and set aside one by one on a plate.  Heat vegetable oil for frying – you’ll know it’s ready when bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon – and work in batches of four until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve each sliced in two pieces diagonally.  If you are entertaining, make it pretty with a garnish of cilantro and scallion cut on the bias.

Carne Frita: Marinated boneless beef chuck often served over rice (Alcudia prefers an heirloom variety of Japanese style rice called Kokuho Rose) and eaten for breakfast.  Slice the beef and 2 medium white onions as directed below and marinate for at least 2 hours with 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic, the juice of 1 orange, 2 lemons and 1 lime, and 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Stir fry over medium high heat with some oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven.

Grilled Chicken Soup: This is decadence exemplified and my favorite dish of the bunch.  But you might ask, why grill a chicken just to put it into soup? Alcudia’s dad, credited with this dish born perhaps from a drunken stupor, might respond why not?  Soup is a special dish and the grilling of the bird before stewing is a way to build flavor without hours of cooking.  All you need is one 2-3 pound chicken (Alcudia likes the young organic one from Publix’s Greenwise line,) 2 medium white onions, halved, 4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, and a small handful of serrano chilies.  Cook over properly stoked and preheated charcoal grill until done, pulling off the tomatoes and peppers first, followed by the onions and then the chicken. Not cooking the chicken through until done will result in a stringy final product in the soup.

Once the grilling is complete, take a couple of cloves of garlic, a thumb of ginger and a stalk or two of lemongrass, mince them and then grind with a mortar and pestle. In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the aromatics. Roughly chop your grilled ingredients and add them to the pot. Add 2 cans of coconut milk and 1 can of water.  Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  I can picture the little ragamuffin now, the wild child of the family kicking up storm clouds in his path as he raced down the dirt road home from school to eat piping hot bowls of Dad’s fragrant soup. We prefer to savor with some ice cold San Miguel or even a Michelita with spicy salt rim… if you’re not the one responsible for cooking!  Think of it as the Margarita’s answer to the Michelada (Mexican beer with Clamato, lime and chili-spiced rim.)  Home at last!

[PHOTOS] [VIDEO] A #SOBEWFF Week in Review with No End in Sight

It’s only Friday, the second official day of South Beach Wine & Food Festival, but for we the people of Genuineland it’s day 6 of a whirlwind that began on Sunday at the beach and has progressed in stages of playtime, beach time, farm time and hard work to where we are now.  Sunday’s The Gramercy Room at The Cypress Room will close us out with a curtsey.

It’s why we love this week every year.  The pleasure, the pain and most of all the people.  An exquisite mix at once dangerous and rewarding.  We leave you now with our medicinal elixir in these heady times, some multimedia to soothe the soul and leave that warm fuzzy feeling inside.  While we continue to climb out of the tall weeds at the Schwartzoffice, stay focused on the best feeds in the biz especially this #SOBEWFF weekend @BarbutoNYC, @chefjwaxman@MGFD_MIA, @ellliesara, @ktchntrvwr, @chefswidow, @Chefsawyer, @marcvetri@jennlouis (did someone say Knaus Berry Farms sticky buns?), @chefaz, @onkappysplate@mikesolomonov, @chefmarcmurphy and @thebillyharris.  #intesity.  Just the way we like it.  Tennis, anyone?

Tuesday’s Eating Italy in Miami  at MGFD with Jeff

Wednesday’s Lincoln Pizzeria at Harry’s with Jenn

Hanging with Harris visits The Raleigh to cook Harvey Cedars Fish Stew with Michael (shot August 2103, live today)

Hanging with Harris visits The Cypress Room with Ryan (shot August 2103, live today)

Hanging with Harris visits Harry’s Pizzeria to make laffa with Mike from Zahav, (shot August 2103, live today)

Stagiaire Supper Three at Bradley’s House: New York, New York Edition


Schwartzy and Waxy, so happy together! Waxman popped up his famed New York City restaurant, Barbuto, at Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami last year.

“Schwartz, you can stage at Barbuto anytime!” Jonathan Waxman emailed yesterday in response to our request for the legendary chef to host a stagiaire from the MGFD kitchen in Miami at Barbuto, his iconic West Village temple to authentic Italian cuisine. But to Michael’s dismay, he won’t be the one getting the experience of a lifetime working alongside Jdubs and his team as crisp and juicy Bell & Evans birds fly in and out of the restaurant’s magnificent wood-burning oven, seasonal veggies and housemade gnocchi get all family-style friendly, and spontaneous dance parties erupt on tables in the dining room courtesy of manager of many hats and #Ateam leader to the north, Jennifer Davidson.  No, Schwartzy, sadly it’s not your lucky day, but rather Ray Melendi’s, an intern we will miss dearly as he relocates to the Big Apple after his stage to attend culinary school.  Now that’s a send-off, if I’ve ever seen one!  It’ll be hard work, but someone’s gotta do it. Represent us well, Ray!

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink chef de cuisine Bradley Herron cordially invites you to participate in his third family-style meal with a purpose.  Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, Yes: Chef, Bradley cooked up a dinner series to raise money to send one of his line cooks away to stage for a few days with a great chef. The idea is simple. Get 30 people to each spend $50 on a family style dinner in his own home, cooked by a stage hopeful with lots of help and donations from The Genuine Hospitality Group family to put it on. After two successful dinners, and stages in Jonathon Sawyer’s and soon to be Kevin Sbraga’s kitchens, the third dinner is in motion!  Help us make it possible. Please say yes to Bradley with cash if you see him at MGFD or purchase your ticket through Brown Paper Tickets with credit card.  Your contribution will go to send Ray Melendi to New York City to stage with legendary chef Jonathan Waxman at Barbuto. Holy shnikes!

When: Sunday, January 27, 5-8:00 p.m.

Where: Hosted by chef de cuisine Bradley Herron at his home
411 Northeast 52nd Terrace (Morningside) Miami, FL

What: Please join us for meal cooked by one of our own so they can travel to stage at a great chef’s restaurant.

$50 includes:
– Welcome Cocktail
– Snacks
– 3 courses including dessert, served family-style
– Wines of a few kinds
– Fun in good company
– A warm fuzzy feeling

Ray’s Menu:

Kumquat ginger caiperna

Hors d’oeuvres
Oysters  preserved lemon mignonette, chive
Charred Octopus Skewers
Carrot Crostini  caramelized carrot and harissa puree, goat cheese, chervil

First course
BLT Salad  heirloom tomato, local greens, bacon lardons, avocado-herb dressing

Second course
Coq au Vin  mushrooms, thyme, sage
Sauteed Kale  chili flake, garlic

Basil Ice Cream  local strawberries, olive oil cookie, pink peppercorns