As the reputation of Miami chefs grows, so do the opportunities to take their show on the road.
We all know that South Florida’s culinary community has superstars, and the national media has certainly taken notice as well. But now some of our Miami talent has been drafted to make some out-of-town command performances.
Brad Kilgore of Alter has had quite a year. In addition to nabbing Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef 2016” and a James Beard nomination for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Kilgore has been clocking airline miles cooking in far flung destinations such as Maui and the Coachella music festival.
He is among a number of chefs who have honed their craft in Miami and then taken that experience with them abroad. Jet lag, unfamiliar kitchens and difficult-to-source ingredients are just a few of the challenges that face chefs as they become culinary nomads. But along with those complications comes the perks of being on tour — the camaraderie, the creative opportunities and exchanges, and of course the networking (or in the case of chefs, post-service revelry).
Earlier this year Jose Mendin (who has been nominated for a James Beard award five times) of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group announced the launch of Mendin & Friends, a dinner series inviting chefs and industry friends to share his kitchen. Mendin, alongside his guest co-hosts, prepared a multi-course, eclectic menu offering a one-night-only, unique dining experience. Mendin’s lineup of chef friends included Atlanta-based Ford Fry and Angel Palacios of La Broche, Madrid.
But what had initially started as a Miami-based chef series, evolved into an international event when swanky Dominican resort Casa de Campo (where Pubbelly Group has an outpost of their Pubbelly Sushi) asked Mendin to organize a weekend-long culinary series during the summer under their “Flavors of the World” program.
The resort gave Mendin free reign to invite whomever he wanted so Mendin put together an enviable roster: Kilgore and Top Chef Season 13 winner Jeremy Ford of Matador Room at the Edition Miami.
The weekend entailed a multi-course dinner Friday, a beachfront barbecue on the resort’s famed Minitas Beach and a Sunday morning brunch that showcased Pubbelly standards such as the chilaquiles with Korean pulled pork and softshell crab Benedict with shiso hollandaise.
Pubbelly Restaurant Group’s Founding Partner and Managing Director Andreas Schreiner feels that these programs help raise the profile of Pubbelly Group and their chef.
“It’s a great forum to host and entertain with other chefs from around the world and it’s a great learning experience for all of us. And it’s a lot of fun as well,” Schreiner said. “The creative minds of chefs are accentuated when you do these types of events because of the sense of camaraderie and you drop that stress that you have when you’re in your own kitchen. So it’s exciting for all of us. It helps all of us grow more as professionals and human beings.”
By highlighting Miami in a program that included chefs from lauded restaurants in Italy, Peru and Spain Casa de Campo Food and Beverage Director Charles Keusters was equating Miami with some of the top international culinary powerhouses.
“We wanted to pay tribute to Miami as a culinary destination. It’s a place that has had an incredible evolution over the past couple of years. We believe in Miami because we also brought Pubbelly Sushi here to Casa de Campo because they are doing something special.”
Larger-than-life billboard posters of chefs Mendin and Kilgore were peppered throughout the upscale resort village and guests flew in especially for the weekend.
“Jose, Jeremy and Brad maybe aren’t household names here as they would be in Miami,” says Keusters, “But all the accolades they’ve received have built up expectations.”