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.

 

Keeping the Miami Spice Season Real with Subject to Change Menus at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink

At Michael’s Genuine, the city’s annual Miami Spice restaurant promotion is about doing it right, or not doing it at all.  It’s what we’ve come to expect Michael to harp on each summer as it approaches, and we’re glad he does.  The reminder serves a few purposes.  For the kitchen, it’s a call to action for the chefs — they better understand why we participate and have seasoned guide rails to kick off the process in the right way. The opportunity forces the kitchen to work within a formula that encourages critical thinking on everything from cross utilization of product to how to incorporate seasonal ingredients that are available and abundant. The objective is to offer guests a great value, something they want to eat that isn’t just a prix fixe thrown together from what’s on the menu already, and a reason to come back to try something new with weekly changes. Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza and Pastry Chef MJ Garcia have heard the call loud and clear.

“It’s important we create a well-balanced offering, not phone it in,” Michael explains.  “We look closely at what makes the most sense to execute with the greatest benefit to our guests.  Sometimes having a structure like this can be a great tool for smart creativity.  If we do it right, Spice can be a platform to introduce new dishes to our regular menus.”

MGFD will offer Miami Spice Lunch ($23 – Monday-Thursday) and Dinner ($39 – Sunday through Thursday) including a choice of Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert from August 1 to September 30. In addition to the 3-courses included in Miami Spice, the restaurant will also run a selection of dishes from its regular menu as optional supplements at special prices. The Genuine Hospitality Group Beverage Manager and Sommelier Amanda Fraga will feature a cocktail for $10, with accessible wines highlighted from the wine list for convenience on the back of the Spice menu. Pricing is not inclusive of tax and gratuity, and menus will change regularly throughout the two months to fully embrace the program the genuine way.

Our initial menus are above, but when we go live Tuesday, August 1, they will be available and updated as weekly changes are made at michaelsgenuine.com.

[Recipe] Vidalia Onion Marmalade is Sweet on the Cypress Burger at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink

Genuine Burger Month continues its weekly special burger rotation May 8-14 with a true keeper, the Cypress Burger.  The meat is ground chuck 75% fat, 25% lean, with dry-aged beef trimmings that build deep umami flavor in the patty.  What’s stunning about the burger isn’t necessarily that the blend is particularly ingenious, rather how the few special elements it is built on come together to create magic when they’re enjoyed in unison.  The Cypress Burger is so much more than the sum of its parts: cheddar-like Jasper Hill Landaff raw cow’s milk cheese and the Vidalia onion marmalade that it smothers, jacked up on the best caramelizing onions we know.  No added sugar necessary!

Due to the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986, Vidalia is a Trademarked name and an onion can only be called a Vidalia if it’s grown in one of the 20 Georgia counties designated in the act.

The original sweet onion has been cultivated by grower artisans for more than 80 years, a discovery of Great Depression era farmers who were trying to find a new cash crop suitable for Georgia soil.  Vidalia onions became the Official State Vegetable of Georgia in 1990 and get their sweet flavor through the perfect combination of mild winters and low sulfur soil, the unique terroir surrounding Vidalia, Georgia.  It’s only available from April until August, making it a special nearby summer crop when it’s slim pickings down here in the South Florida fields and tropical fruit trees are at their peak.  Over 80,000 Vidalia onion seedlings are hand-planted per acre translating into about 5 million 40-lb. boxes sent out across the country and into Canada each year.

Enjoy the Cypress Burger’s unique combination of specialty ingredients next week at lunch and dinner, between a hard roll bun skewered with a cornichon.  You may find it hard not to sit in admiration like its butter lettuce and sliced heirloom tomato do to the side.  Ok, maybe not that hard!  Follow along at #mgfdburger #genuineburgermonth and #onlyvidalia.

Deeply delicious onion marmalade fresh from the range chills out in the walk-in cooler.

Vidalia Onion Marmalade

Built on the recipe for caramelized onions that form the base of the dip for Thick Cut Potato Chips and decorate Chicken Liver Crostini at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, this condiment has many applications beyond a burger topping.  But we challenge you to find one more epic!

Makes 1 quart

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Vidalia onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions along with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until the onions are deeply golden brown and caramelized, roughly 20 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to allow the onions to burn. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze until the liquid cooks off, about 3 more minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Now Live at the All New michaelschwartzevents.com, Genuine Food & Hospitality for Memorable Occasions

Our new full service events company offers catering and private parties, from planning and menus, to decor and staffing at michaelschwartzevents.com.

Rise and shine! It’s time to meet michaelschwartzevents.com, an optimized platform for Michael’s new catering company Michael Schwartz Events!  MSE’s new suite of menus and full-service event packages is showcased in an immersive portfolio website that launches today at michaelschwartzevents.com.  Enjoy an enhanced, user-friendly pre-event experience with easy access to sample menus, galleries, party ideas with specialty activations like BBQ Pit Smoker and Mobile Wood Oven, event design ideas and quotes to meet your needs.  From birthday parties to corporate functions, Michael Schwartz Events offers in-restaurant or off-site events from the beloved South Florida restaurateur and James Beard Award-winning chef, delivering an experience of genuine food and hospitality for memorable occasions (especially ones Michael’s cooking at himself!)

“Entertaining should be simple and easily executed, but not at the expense of quality or thoughtfulness! Michael Schwartz Events celebrates that foundation,” says Michael. “Looking at how we want to grow The Genuine Hospitality Group, opening up more access to the genuine food and hospitality our guests enjoy while dining with us makes catering a priority. We’re building on what we do inside the restaurants for larger gatherings, facilitating more opportunities to craft something special outside them and leveraging a network of resources to be nimble and creative in our approach. No request is too tall!”

The company’s customizable menus include Action Stations, multi-course Lunch, Dinner and Brunch plated family-style or individually, Passed Hors d’Oeuvres, Dessert, Corporate, Beverage, BBQ Party, Pizza Party, and Supplements including luxury raw bar items and Champagne. The Mobile Wood Oven travels with a team of chefs to pop up everything from quick-fired pizza parties, to Michael Schwartz specialities like roasted seasonal vegetables and whole local fish. This stunning showpiece in your party footprint delights guests with genuine food made right before their eyes. Intoxicating slow roasted meats are made easy with the correct lead time so the BBQ Pit Smoker can roll up with ribs, brisket and more ready to go with a menu of backyard favorites including passed appetizers and stations of salads, sides and desserts. Cypress Tavern, while no longer open for regular business, is available until July 31, 3017 to be booked for the intimate, special affairs it does best!

For sample catering menus, The Genuine Hospitality Group restaurant portfolio menus with private party and buyout specifications, and to request a quote visit michaelschwartzevents.com and follow current events in action on Instagram @michaelschwartzevents and #michaelschwartzevents.

Spring Field Report in Pictures | Little Haiti Community Garden, Teena’s Pride Farm & Bee Heaven Farm

Chef in the heirloom tomato (and squash, celery, beets, carrots, onions, broccoli rabe, salad mix) fields with Teena’s Pride owner/farmer Michael Borek.

Friday was a great day, one of those that begin with a specific goal in mind and end netting so many more valuable takeaways.  In anticipation of Fi’lia’s LA opening, we’re producing a video to capture Genuine Culture as a tool to educate our teams at The Genuine Hospitality Group on who we are, what we do and the reasons why.  Michael and I visited three farms as they began to wrap South Florida’s main growing season to document how we source product, an important component of the genuine way.  While footage of strolls through Homestead tomato field tractor lanes and Little Haiti urban farm footpaths materialized in the lens, ideas were generated between Chef and a handful of our farmers as they discovered new opportunities for collaboration and tasted ingredients in the field.

Curiosity scared the crows.  We also found a small prop airplane in Borek’s new warehouse facility.

Enjoy the day in photos laced with informative captions below as we digest new opportunities through the genuine chef network.  Will Michael Borek identify a great Roma tomato to cultivate at Teena’s Pride for Harry’s Pizzeria®?  What about the Upland cress Little Haiti Community Garden’s Gary Feinberg is growing?  How could it be expressed on the menu at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink?  Margie Pikarsky’s heirloom peppers are beautiful to behold, as Chef recalls the “seasoning pepper” related to the Scotch Bonnet — all the flavor without the punishing heat — from our days in Grand Cayman.  Is she growing something similar, and should we shave it raw on the daily focaccia at Ella?  Let us know what you would like to see in our restaurants!