Fi’lia, Michael’s First Italian Concept, Opens at SLS Brickell this Fall

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Today we announce Fi’lia opening at the SLS Brickell Hotel & Residences when the property debuts in October 2016 at South Miami Avenue and 13th Street.  Chef’s first Italian concept draws on a way of cooking that has informed his approach in the kitchen since his first days on the line back in Philly.  Fi’lia will feature honest Italian food highlighting fresh ingredients from the hearth and the simplicity of handmade artisanal breads and pasta.  Get a first taste of what he’s been eating and cooking to develop the concept at Taste of Brickell next week, a special dinner service hosted by Michael at Cypress Tavern on Wednesday, June 22.  The menu, including amuse and four courses all paired with wines, is now available here with few remaining tickets for seatings beginning at 6:30.

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Eric Larkee, director of licensing operations, working out the Fi’lia tabletop at The Genuine Hospitality Group offices.

At Fi’lia (a play on the Italian word “figlia” which means daughter), a meal will begin with a crusty loaf, presented with olive oil and oregano snipped at the table. Rustic pizzas from the wood oven showcase beautiful produce in season in special combinations. Caesar salad is tossed tableside in a shower of shaved parmigiano from a roaming cart, with the smell of toasted garlic croutons reminding you of how satisfying and memorable the classics can be. Cocktails are refreshingly uncomplicated – less about complex recipes and technique, and more about how unpretentiously perfect a spritz is on a July or December afternoon. The cocktails will balance a focused wine list that appeals to the knowledgeable diner of Brickell, celebrating Italian regional varietals and American wines with an old world sensibility.  Fi’lia will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner when the hotel opens this fall, with José Andrés presenting Bazaar Mar shortly after making SLS Brickell the only property in Miami to claim two James Beard Award-winning chefs.

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“Coming up on the 10th anniversary of Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink, it’s exciting to enter a new, nearby neighborhood exploring the style of food that has been a great influence in my cooking since I first entered a restaurant kitchen 30 years ago,” says Chef.  “I look forward to bringing my straightforward approach to Italian food to Miami for another great project with sbe, and to join José on property.”

At 15 Schwartz had his first experience working at a restaurant, bussing tables at Dilullo’s, a Northern Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. He became fascinated with what was coming out of the kitchen. The place was ahead of its time and really swanky, importing expensive, high quality ingredients from Italy.  After a year, he had worked his way into the back of the house.  His first chef was a huge fan of Alice Waters and her approach to simplicity.  “All her books were in the office,” Michael explains. “I wanted to go see what was going on over there.”  It informed his eventual move out to California in 1986 where he got a job working at Chinois for Wolfgang Puck, and would be a great influence on his cooking in kitchens to come.  We can’t wait for this one!

Hear from from Michael about what’s planned for Fi’lia and his approach to the menu in today’s Miami.com story here.

 

[VIDEO] Cayman Cookout Countdown: Taming the Lion of the Sea!

One week from today, Thomas Tennant’s fins will be parting the crystalline waters of Grand Cayman island with spear in hand.   As the shirt he appropriately wore to work today indicates, our The Genuine Hospitality Group special ops chef is a natural born killer of lionfish.  Not only is Thomas a certified SCUBA diver, he’s a licensed lionfish hunter, culling this invasive species from the marine ecosystems they threaten, one Big Gulp at a time.  As we like to say, eat them to beat them!

Image-2The 2014 Cayman Cookout descends on our second home in the Caribbean next week from Thursday, January 16 to Sunday, January 19 with Michael, Eric, Mr. Special Ops and I representing Miami headquarters on-island.  Presented the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and FOOD & WINE magazine, this annual culinary extravaganza will bring some of the best known and most respected chefs in the world to the island for myriad events.

For our part, the town of Camana Bay will transform into an Ultimate Dinner Party on Saturday, January 18.  During the Thursday dive, fellow diving chef José Andrés will experience a lionfish hunt for the first time since his original SCUBA certification in the Cayman Islands during the 2012 festival.

MGFD_GCM_Cayman Cookout menu_FinalWe’re banking on these two bringing back a haul, as Saturday depends on it!  The evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a special cocktail hour presentation “Taming the Lionfish,” which will celebrate the success of the divers, fishermen, scientists and chefs who have banded together to protect Cayman’s reefs from these ravenous invaders.  José and Michael will accompany Thomas as he demonstrates a recipe like the lionfish ceviche shared with Miss Cayman Islands in the PSA above, after which guests can elect dine at one of Camana Bay’s participating signature restaurants each collaborating with a Cayman Cookout headline chef on a dinner menu.  José will be our special guest at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink; Quebec’s “wild chef” Martin Picard will appear at Abacus; Daniel Boulud will bring French flair to Mizu; and Rick Bayless will unite with Cindy Hutson at Ortanique. Our dinner as you may have guessed will feature the lionfish catch and many other house specialties done fresh, simple and pure. Tickets are $299 for it all, available here through the Cayman Cookout website.

It’s Cayman Cookout Time! Shooting Genuine Cayman Today…

Shooting Michael's new show, Genuine Cayman, this morning in Camana Bay.

As we’ve shared here before, Genuine Cayman was greenlit late last year with support from Cayman Islands Department of Toursim and Camana Bay, the mixed use town center in which MGFD Grand Cayman is located.  We’re shooting our second and third episodes (after last summer’s pilot with farmer Patrick Panton) with our producer Emma Gladstone while on-island this week for the Cayman Cookout, the kickoff of Culinary Month. Continue reading

Huffington Post Miami Column: Slow Food in the Cayman Islands

Michael is now contributing to Huffington Post’s new Miami site!  He began yesterday with a story about the slow food movement taking hold in the Caribbean on the occasion of next week’s Culinary Month kickoff event, the Cayman Cookout. This annual celebration of food and drink is hosted by Eric Ripert each second week of January and attracts world-renowned chefs and authors such as Jose Andres and Anthony Bourdain, and this year adds guests including April Bloomfield and Richard Blais.  Michael reflects on this, his third year of participation, how slow food has taken root on-island, and our all-new event, Slow Food Day with chef Jonathan Waxman on 2/4.  Click @SlowFoodUSA’s tweet below to read it, and stay tuned for our Cayman correspondence from the rock next week!  When we arrive on 1/9, we will dive into shooting our first season of Genuine Cayman (the lionfish and farm eggs episodes) and then get hot and heavy with the Cookout, hosting April Bloomfield for a dinner on Saturday (1/14) night.  Here is that menu, fresh off the presses, and a link to purchase the few tickets that are left. If you’re still not sure if this is your cup of tea, please check out my coverage of last year’s event for Eater Miami (which I will be repeating this year.)