In what part of town do you live?
Right across from Dadeland in the Metropolis building.
How long have you been in the area?
I’ve been down here 15 years.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
I’m from Livingston, New Jersey. I went to culinary school in Manhattan and then worked at the Gramercy Tavern, and then opened Spice Market. I was working at these amazing places in New York but it was a grind. And, it was November. I had a friend who lived down in Miami and I saw that cold creeping up around the corner and just thought, maybe this is a good time to make a move. I called him up and said I wanted a change in scenery, ‘can I stay with you until I get settled? And he said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’.
What did you do when you got to town?
I ended up with two interviews. I was either going to work at Azul or Nobu. Nobu had always been that Mount Rushmore of places for me to work. It was a four block walk from where I was living at the time and I spent the next four years with them.
What was working at Nobu like?
I walked in as a line cook right before Art Basel and I got absolutely crushed my first two nights. And then the sous chef left for vacation and turned to me and said, ‘the station is yours.’ Learning by fire was absolutely awesome. I started as a line cook and then I became a roundsman and I learned all the stations, then became junior sous, and then ended up spending a month at Nobu 57 in New York, and then I was promoted to executive sous chef for the new one in Los Angeles. I did all of my major management training with Nobu. The experience was amazing.
Could you teach us how to make Nobu’s Black Cod dish at home?
The secret is in the Den Miso sauce. To make something similar you will need a few ingredients. Take some white miso paste and thin it out with some water and little bit of sake and a touch of sugar and mirin. Cook this all together to create a sauce, cool it down, and that’s what you use to marinate your black cod. It could be sea bass or any thicker fish. Marinate it for a couple of days. And then as soon as you’re ready to go, put it on the grill or a nonstick pan, and cook it until it’s done. Make sure that you have some caramelization to create that fantastic flavor.
From Nobu, where did you go?
After working with Nobu, I was finally ready to take the next step to put my touches and my cuisine forward. I took that first step at a restaurant called Symcha’s, on South Beach, right across from Joe’s stone crab. Like a lot of the restaurants down there, it wasn’t long lived. From there, I went to work as the executive chef at Milos on South Beach. They are an amazing company with a fantastic owner named Costas. One of the things I love most about working with food is sourcing products and finding the best of everything around. Whether it was working with farms down here or finding new sources for seafood, it was a phenomenal experience. I was there for three years.
What did you learn at Milos?
Some of the recipes were written and some of them were not. I asked Costas why there was no recipe for his tomato sauce. And, his answer was because every tomato is different. You can’t rely on just a recipe. You have to understand what the final product is supposed to taste like and then finish it with as much or little salt and pepper and oil and acid as you need to get it there. I thought that that was spectacular.
Interesting lesson. What lessons stuck with you from working at Nobu?
The power of consistency and the power of brand recognition. The vibe in a restaurant is all about creating experiences and having goosebumps every time you walk in because you have a feeling.
What about from Jean-Georges’s Spice Market?
I was a kid at that point. I learned about the different components each dish should bring. I learned to pull out a salt, an acid, a crunch, and a savoriness in every dish. This is something I think about every time, even if I’m just doing something at home for myself.
And now you are doing restaurant consulting putting these lessons together, would you share how that came about?
At some point, I got to a point where I wanted to do more than just cook. I have found my niche doing what I really enjoy, which is not only being involved in food, but understanding the business, training people, and putting all these things together to help others out. It’s professional problem solving.
What types of things are you doing for clients?
There is digging into the food and menu, sourcing products, and trying to find efficiencies along the way. We do team building exercises to increase communication between the front and back of house. And, there’s so many things that are involved in every single dish to make sure that you can get it to the customer on time. When you create a dish, a lot of times you’re not thinking about the cost or the mechanics of how that dish will actually be put together on the line during service. If you’re not going to be able to get it out during service then no one’s going to be sitting in your dining room.
How often do you come to the Pinecrest Market?
Three out of four Sundays a month.
What’s your ritual when you come?
First thing we do is go straight to LNB and check out exactly how long the line is, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re going to wait as long as we need to. We don’t do anything until my boys and I have our rainbows smoothies in hand.
And from there, where do you go?
We’ll walk around and pick out some produce. The boys will go play with their friends at the community center. It’s hysterical, my boys run into more people than I do. If we’re there early enough, we’ll do lunch – either a pizza or ninja noodles. It’s an incredible community environment, it’s chill, it’s relaxed, and it’s fun. We always leave satisfied and full.
What could make the market better?
When it’s hot out, misting fans would be pretty cool.
What’s your favorite part about the market?
Being in hospitality, I love that it’s so busy. I think the lines at your booth are amazing. It’s fun for me to see both sides of the equation. I walk around and see the way that all the vendors are working their butts off and I appreciate what they’re doing.
What restaurants do you like to go with your kids?
There’s nothing my boys don’t eat. Give them salmon, octopus, crab, steak, short rib, 20 different vegetables, they are fantastic eaters. Every night it’s all about protein and vegetables and healthy fruit for dessert. For restaurants, my favorite is Matsuri. We also love Ghee. During lunch, I always get the special.
What is a worthy splurge?
Anything fun for my boys.
What’s a fun rainy day activity?
Where’s the most romantic spot in Miami?
Sitting outside at Juvia is really awesome.
What community groups or events are important to you that you might like to share?
Taste of the Nation – No kid hungry is a great event and a great cause.
Is there a pitch about your business that you might like to share?
If you have anything to do with hospitality and are looking for a sounding board or have questions in growing a business and becoming more efficient, hit me up.
What question would you like to ask us?
When was the last time that you had a different color in your rainbow smoothie?
(A+W) We recently changed the yellow and red. As the fruit seasons change, we create new flavors and combinations. The new BB Rose is a brighter red, almost fuchsia, and looks so good in the rainbow. Adena is also a trained chef and works to create balanced and interesting flavors. But, like tomatoes, every fruit is different and she can adjust the recipe on the fly.
What question or challenge would you like to pose to our community?
Think locally. We live in such a fertile area, there are just lots of natural products around us to consume and we should take advantage of what we have. Right now is a prime time to eat well. For parents, do not to be afraid to introduce different fruits, vegetables, and proteins. The earlier you do it, the less picky eaters you end up with, and the easier it is to go out with your family.
Any final thoughts?
I’ve been a customer for many years and I’ve been reading the newsletter. It’s pretty cool that I get my turn to spend my time with you. See you Sunday!