Esquire's new restaurant guru is a Miami homeboy

It’s been a beefy few days for Josh Ozersky. The Miami-born food writer and newly crowned Esquire restaurant editor is putting on his 10th Meatopia, a celebration of meat, at this weekend’s New York City Wine & Food Festival. 

Next, he’ll bring Meatopia to Miami for the first time, as a featured event at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Feb. 19-22. Tickets to Meatopia: The Q Revolution ($250) and dozens of other SoBeWFF events go on sale Monday at sobefest.com

We caught up with Ozersky to hear more about what he has in store for Miami’s Meatopia and about South Florida’s place in the national culinary landscape. Here are excerpts from our conversation: 

Q. What’s going to be cool about Meatopia in Miami? 

A. To me it’s incredibly exciting, because La Caja China [the company that makes pig-roasting boxes] is based in Miami, and we’re bringing in a chef, Nelson Millán, who is going to cook something like 20 pigs — 10 inside caja chinas, and 10 roasting on spits above them. That’s going to be incredible. 

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Q. Where do you see Miami’s place in American cuisine? 

A. I was born and brought up in Kendall, and I left when I was 12, but I go back pretty frequently. That’s why places like Shorty’s and The Pit are in Meatopia at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Even though they’re not nationally famous, they’re Miami institutions, they have Miami character, and I wanted to have them there.

Having grown up in Miami, one thing I would really like to see somebody do there — and I know Doug Rodriguez has been doing his Nuevo Latino thing in South Beach for a while — is really good, Versailles-style Cuban-American food. Not necessarily a modern take on it, but just, you know, a thoughtful, dedicated take on that kind of food.

The first restaurant I fell in love with was Lila’s, which was on Calle Ocho and also in Westchester. Just thinking about that toasted bread with margarine on it, the palomilla steak, the flan. Those things are the true soul of growing up in Miami, I think. 

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Q. Miami is currently hosting Seed, the city’s first vegan food festival. Does the growing popularity of plant-based cuisine put you on the defensive? 

A. Yeah, that’s an event I won’t be going to. I refuse to eat anything that didn’t have parents. 

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