The Setai knew what they were doing when they tapped new Executive Chef Mathias Gervais. Hailing from a small village near St. Tropez, Gervais, 33, is Miami’s new rising food star. Gervais got his start under Joël Robuchon, the most Michelin-starred chef in the world and held key positions at 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in France and Italy, respectively. Now he’s taken his extensive talents to South Beach’s Setai. Shortly after opening the Setai Grill last December, Gervais was asked to cook at the James Beard House.
When did you actually start cooking?
I started when I was six, with my grandmother. We would be on vacation in the south of France and go to the markets in the village and buy apples, zucchini flower blossom, eggplants. Ultimately we were six kids and each had a job: my sister did the table, my brother did the prep and, eventually, I was cooking.
What was it like cooking at James Beard?
It was fantastic. You can feel all the chefs who passed through there, it’s unbelievable. We cooked for 80 people in a tiny kitchen.
How did it go and what was the favorite dish?
It went well. The Cannelloni with Maine scallops, parmesan, eggs mimosa and fresh truffle was very popular. I just received a letter from James Beard foundation saying it was one of the best dinners they ever had at the James Beard, so I’m happy to be welcome back.
What was your concept for the Setai Grill?
I asked myself ‘What people really like to eat?’ so I decided to do American Steak House in the French way.
When is The Restaurant opening and what will be the cuisine?
It will open this winter and be a completely new concept. I don’t know if I can reveal that yet, but it will focus on one cuisine that I know I can do perfectly.
What was your most difficult job?
Working with Joël Robuchon for four years was like 10 anywhere else, but there is nothing difficult [for me]. I am somebody who likes to fight to get something and I had to do that growing up. Believe in what you are doing and you’ll be successful.
Your wife is from Japan, has she influenced your cooking?
Yes, of course. She only makes Japanese food -and very well I might add.