Miami Living Magazine

Alicia Silverstone

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MIAMI LIVING 93 MIAMI LIVING 93 ML EXCLUSIVE! When Chef Michael Schwartz opened his acclaimed and oh-so-ever-popular Miami Design District hot spot Michael's Genuine Food & Drink three years ago, it was as if a prophet had arrived in the up-and-coming neighborhood, as hundreds of followers – surely familiar with his South Beach stalwart, Nemo – quickly turned the restaurant into one of their favorites. Schwartz was at the forefront of the restaurant revolution in the Design District, and he has the adoration and respect of fans to prove it, including that of stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Robert Downey Jr., and culinary-world leaders like Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto, and Tom Colicchio. Everyone loves what the 2009 James Beard Award nominee describes as "a neighborhood place that feels like the real deal," not to mention a nicely priced contemporary American menu that features items that are, as he puts it, "seductive and elegant." His cuisine is also delicious, of course, as well as innovative, and responsible – the chef loves sourcing seasonal, sustainable ingredients locally. That is one of the reasons Miami Living wanted to share with you all about Michael Schwartz. The other? We really, truly love his food. This year, Schwartz will participate – with fellow Design District powerhouses Sra. Martinez's Michelle Bernstein, Jonathan Eismann of Pacific Time, and Fratelli Lyon's Ken Lyon – in Feb. 27's Wine + Dine + Design event during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Read on before you go meet him. And enjoy Genuine Food & Drink. ML: To what do you attribute the success of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink? Michael Schwartz: Timing. Miami's restaurant scene has really grown up in the past few years. Even with New York chefs and restaurateurs descending on South Beach, you're starting to see a lot more chef-driven places crop up in unlikely locations around town. People have really responded to our commitment to sourcing ingredients locally. Customers are more aware and committed to eating sustainably and are demanding quality, not trendy cuisine. My style is definitely geared toward simplicity, freshness, and seasonality. Five years ago, this kind of restaurant probably wouldn't have been possible in Miami. ML: What are your favorite dishes to make? To eat? MS: I love making pizza at home with my kids. There's a general reluctance to make dough from scratch, but it's so much better when you do. There's really not that much to it. I use a little wheat flour and honey in mine. It's perfect even for breakfast – just top with a thin layer of tomato sauce, green onions, crispy bacon, jack cheese, and a fried egg. We use eggs a lot at home and even raised our own hens at one point. What doesn't taste better with a fried egg on top? ML: How important is it for you to work with renewable resources? MS: It's really important. The restaurant is ingredient-driven, and making sure those are sustainable is key. We try wherever possible to buy local. ML: What about your choice of green ingredients – why you choose a certain fish or whatnot? MS: It all comes back to the people we source our product from. I visit my farmers and suppliers regularly. It's all about building relationships and having common priorities. ML: As a local chef, how do you like participating in the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival? MS: I'm for anything that gets people excited about cooking and in the kitchen more. The festival has been great for the city and for chefs. It's a busy week at the restaurant. ML: Which of your peers – local and national/international – do you admire most? MS: Locally, Kris Wessel – you gotta love what he's doing at Red Light. Nationally, Michel Nischan. His non-profit Wholesome Wave is doing amazing things to get people on benefits eating healthy and locally. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink 130 N.E. 40th Street Atlas Plaza Miami Design District Miami, FL 33137 ML The Genuine Thing Words by Martin Haro

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