Now that José Andrés' The Bazaar is up and running, foodies on a quest for the next biggest thing have already moved on to what else may be in the ever evolving landscape of Miami restaurants and that includes, of course, the slight possibility of Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery) establishing his presence here as well. After all, Keller got his start as a dishwasher and eventual Hollandaise sauce prodigy of sorts at the Palm Beach Yacht Club, so he has ties here. Ties! But alas no restaurant--yet.
Even before Joel Huff was out the door at Azul, there were rumors that a major chef was sniffing around the Mandarin Oriental's kitchen. Some said that chef was none other than Keller. Some still say it's Keller even though the Mandarin insisted they were not seeking a star chef replacement for Huff, not to mention the fact that sous chef Bradley Kilgore seems to be doing a swell job there.
But again, the rumors of Keller staking his claim to Azul just won't go away, so we took to the mouthpieces to clarify. Says Mandarin's Director of Communications Alexandra Wensley, "It's a rumor--there's no truth to it." And for those who say Keller doesn't use canned goods, here's proof that he does in the form of a quote from his Communications and Social Media specialist Mimi Toro, who told us something we've heard before: "While there have been discussions of possible opportunities in Miami, nothing has been finalized."
Don't count the Mandarin completely out, however. Sources on the inside say it's still a possibility and absolutely could happen at some point if it ever does at all. And if it doesn't, it's been fun speculating and we can always start chasing the rumors that Ferran Adrià's opening a grilled cheese joint in Wynwood or something.
Update(ish): In this summer of rumors, many which have turned out to be true, the buzz is getting louder about Keller heading to the Mandarin. Not only is that buzz loud, but it's credible, with several restaurant and culinary A-listers insisting it's happening. Of course we turned to Wensley again, who replied, "You know what I know--just lots of loud noise," to which this writer replied, "it would be HUGE if he came here. Wensley's reply? "Totally agree with you--it would be HUGE."
HUGE! All caps intentional.
Another source says the Keller contract has, indeed, been signed on the inside, but the announcement is on hold as they finalize the concept. Juicy!
Developing..we think..we swear...we hope...