Haute 10: Power Players in the Food & Beverage Industry

Previous PostHaute Secrets: KNR Hospitality's Marko Gojanovic Dishes on His Miami Favorites
Next PostSotheby's International Realty: Single-Story Montecito Ranch Home

As we approach the season of food and wine in Miami, it’s fitting to take a look at some of the biggest names of the game in the Magic City. Here, they discuss industry secrets, tips, haute dishes and some of their favorite memories. 

LEE SCHRAGER

Lee Schrager

Company: South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Founder and Director; Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Senior Vice President

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry? Be careful whose toes you’re stepping on today; you may be kissing them tomorrow.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others?  Miami definitely has its own unique style – the city is a melting pot with cultural influences from all over the world, giving it its own personality.

Favorite dish/dishes in Miami: Some of my staples are the roast chicken at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and the bucatini [or the roasted chicken] at Fooq’s – that being said, I’m also loving Boho in the Grove and the new Upland on Miami Beach.

Your most memorable Miami experience:  

Honoring King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía of Spain during the 2009 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival was a very memorable evening.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: 

I think we’ll see even more reviving of the classics – dishes, cocktails and so forth. Things people will identify with from their childhood or young adult years.

PHILIP GOLDFARB

v

Company: Fontainebleau Miami Beach

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry? I learned early on that people are looking for an extraordinary experience. Great food goes hand in hand with great service and a special atmosphere.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others? The Miami F&B industry is definitely unique, and it has to be! Visitors always want fresh, local ingredients. That’s a must. But they also want to infuse a taste of the Miami lifestyle into their experience–young, hip, sexy and energetic.  There needs to be a certain quality atmosphere to stand out and keep people coming back.

Favorite dish/dishes in Miami: Two of my favorite dishes are served right here at Fontainebleau. The American Rib Cap at StripSteak by Michael Mina is the best steak in the world, hands down! The Dim Sum at Hakkasan is a true can’t-miss dish, handmade and authentic. When I adventure out, nothing beats the great tradition of stone crabs at Joe’s–just the perfect way to feel at home.

Your most memorable Miami experience:

I’m fortunate to go to a lot of amazing events, and Miami is an event town. But since we’re in the hospitality industry, my most memorable experience was just this past summer, working hand in hand with world-famous chef Michael Mina to create our Pizza & Burger “pop-up” completely from scratch. From designing the space, testing the ovens, to learning Michael’s unique spin on ingredients and flavors, and now seeing how well received it’s been by our guests, it was such an amazing experience to be a part of.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017:

Diners in Miami are eating healthier than they ever have before. From sushi, to grilled fish and Mediterranean-style flavors, I’ve seen a real push towards healthier menu items.

YONA PURI

Yona Puri2

Company: Zuma, Coya, Tamarina, DÔA and La Petite Maison

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry?

It is not a walk in the park and the more you connect with people, the more exciting the dream becomes.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? It is the undisputed “hub of the Americas” because of the very pre-dominant South American influence and of course the people of diverse cultures that visit Miami.

Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others?  Yes. Miami is a young city full of nostalgia, with a mixture of old school and hip restaurants. Also, the city has more Peruvian, Argentinean, Brazilian and other South American restaurants than in any other big city in the United States.

Favorite dish at each of your restaurants: Spagetto lobster and Pink Risotto at Tamarina, Black cod and Tomahawk at Zuma, Arroz Nikkei and Corn salad at Coya, Pork ribs and buns at DÔA.

Your most memorable Miami experience:

It was the joy of being creative by designing and decorating Tamarina, and making the visions I had a reality, as well as learning all aspects of the restaurant business by operating Tamarina hands-on. Bringing people together and leading a passionate team to make my dream a success was amazing.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017:

The more creative the better, there will be a rise in hip restaurants, healthier products and ingredients, skilled hospitality and mid-market concepts to create niche restaurants.

SHAREEF MALNIK

Shareef Malnik

Company: The Forge

What was the first lesson you learned when you entered into the F&B industry? It is a difficult and competitive industry to make money in, especially when starting out.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others?

Miami is unique in that the people in general expect a lot for free—even more so than other cities, except for Las Vegas.

Favorite dish at The Forge: Definitely the Kale Salad, I eat it five nights per week.

Your most memorable Miami experience: The most memorable memory at The Forge actually happened to a well-known celebrity in the wine cellar…but I can’t speak about it. What happens at The Forge stays at The Forge.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: I think we’ll see a rise in more Middle-Eastern flavors, small batch mezcal, elevated tea ceremonies and a return to prominence of pastry chefs.

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ

Michael New Headshot_Photo credit Genuine Hospitality GroupPhoto Credit: Genuine Hospitality Group

Company: The Genuine Hospitality Group

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry? How to deal with failure. I was working at this fancy Northern Italian restaurant in Philly. I started as a busser but really wanted to work in the kitchen. On my first night, the pasta cook was a no-show, and without any warning, I was on this station, crashing and burning. The chef kicked me off the line.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others? With the economy down here based in large part around tourism, we have been lucky to develop a base of local regulars, as well as out of town regulars.  As for the food scene, we’re in a pretty unique position simply because of where Miami is located. We have great weather, which produces a year-round growing season. There’s always some product coming in from local farms. Additionally, there is a significant influence on food culture here from South America and the Caribbean. It’s really a special place to be a chef in that it’s so dynamic and definitely keeps us on our toes at the restaurants.

Favorite dish at one of your restaurants: Right now, my favorite is the pan-seared golden tilefish with whipped potato, warm fennel and radish salad with the preserved lemon and green olive salsa at Fi’lia. Chef  Tim Piazza just really nailed how to work with what’s running in the waters right now. It’s one of my favorite fish; it is a little firmer in texture and has a higher fat content than snapper. It’s plated to highlight the ingredient in a special way, but with some restraint.

Your most memorable Miami experience:

Summer mango hunts with friends in the neighborhood.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017:

Uncomplicated cocktails that are great because they’re measured correctly and well balanced, not because they take 15 minutes to make.

KEITH MENIN

Keith Menin Photo Credit Menin HospitalityPhoto Credit: Menin Hospitality

Company: Principal, Menin Hospitality

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry? Always know what your restaurant’s “daily breakeven” is.  It is essential to understand this information for a large or small business, so you can in turn manage effectively.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others? Miami is very unique because you have a diverse amount of tourists and loyal locals. For us, we try to create concepts for our locals to enjoy and that tourists stumble upon. This creates a cool and eclectic blend of customers.

Favorite dish at each of your Miami restaurants:

Bodega – Classico Chicken taco with the Bodega signature hot sauce

• Halves & Wholes – Philly Cheesesteak

• Pizza Bar – Original cheese slice

•Ricky’s – black and blue slider

•Bakehouse – Herb Omelette

•Sarsparilla Club – The Green Curry Fried Chicken

•Mondrian Caffè – Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken

Your most memorable Miami experience:

A few years ago we did New Year’s Eve at Shelborne South Beach. The party was sold out and Lauryn Hill was the headliner. All our favorite sports greats were there: Lebron James, Dwyane Wade & Gabriele Union, and Chris & Adrienne Bosh. They all came out to celebrate along with Queen Latifah, The Mayor and Nas – who ended up doing a surprise performance with Lauryn Hill. The highlight of the night was when I got to go up on stage with Jared, LeBron, Wade and Bosh and do the NYE countdown. That is a party I will never forget.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: Fun, casual, great environments.

NAVIN CHATANI

Navin Chatani Photo Credit Chris CarterPhoto Credit: Chris Carter

Company: KNR Hospitality / Homecookin HG

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry?

The first thing that made an impression on me when I entered this business is how important service is. You can have a mediocre product, but as long as you have good-to-great service, people will come back. Ideally, you should have great service and a great product to be successful, but you must have at least one of the two, because if you lack them both you don’t stand a chance.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others?

Miami is unique because we have both the tourism factor as well as a large local community that drives us. It is also unique because it’s a melting pot of cultures with many cultural influences, particularly from Latin America. We are also blessed with beautiful weather almost all year round, so many venues here have the option of being both outdoors and indoors, as opposed to places like Chicago, where they only have four months or 16 weeks of decent weather—if they are lucky.

Favorite dish at Drunken Dragon: 

Bulgogi (Marinated Beef Tenderloin) with a side of Shanghai-Style Fried Rice

Your most memorable Miami experience? 

Hanging out with Bono at WALL and watching a fight at Foxhole with Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: 

I think as far as the nightlife beverage scene goes, people are going back to the smaller venues versus the large mega clubs, and the bar scenes are becoming more trendy and hip. The millennials prefer going to bars and listening to live music more so than DJ-driven venues. That is why we are working on a new venture in Wynwood, “Racket”, a new nightlife experience set to open in Fall 2017. For restaurants, I feel that people like the sharing of food concepts; more tapas-style restaurants are opening, and I feel that it brings people together when they can all share food items.

MICHAEL RIDARD

Michael Ridard

Company: MR Hospitality

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry?

Showing true hospitality to our guests and educating our employees on how to go the extra miles are essential to making the guest feel very special.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others?

The F&B industry is a fun industry, as we are here to create a unique experience for our guests. It’s very complicated to compare Miami with others because it’s so different, but what I can say is that the nicest and funniest people I have met are from this industry.

Favorite dish at each of your restaurants: 

• Baoli–Miso Grilled Sea Bass

• Marion–the―Ribeye with Roasted Bone Marrow & Truffle Aioli

• El Tucán–the―Crispy Tuna Tart & Yellowtail Crunchy Tacos

Your most memorable Miami experience: Will Smith taking the microphone on the El Tucán stage and performing with our performer.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: Bringing in more entertainment―to have fun in a place where you can have dinner at the same time.

DAVID GRUTMAN

David Grutman

Company: MMG

What was the first lesson when you entered into the F&B industry? The first lesson I learned is to treat people as guests and not just as just clients or customers. When you are entertaining a guest, everything changes; their experience becomes much more meaningful.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others? In South Florida we have very dominant Latin and Caribbean influences that aren’t experienced in other markets – that definitely gives us an edge when it comes to food, beverage and nightlife.

Favorite Dish at Komodo and OTL: At Komodo, definitely the Peking Duck! It’s the best in town. Wrapped up in a pancake with cucumber and hoisin sauce. For OTL, The Super Seed Toast is sick. There’s nothing like it in town. It’s the best for breakfast or lunch.

Your most memorable moment:

Well besides the time that Kanye jumped on the mic at my wedding and said Isabela and I had the greatest wedding of all time…One of my most memorable moments has to be when some of my favorite hip-hop artists gave a surprise performance at LIV on Sunday. We had Diddy, Kanye West, DJ Khaled and more – it was awesome to have all my favorite artists performing at my venue. I’m so proud of the brand we have built with LIV on Sunday.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: Plant-based dishes.

MIKY GRENDENE

Leticia-Miky-Grendene-at-Roger-Vivier-Bal-Harbour-Shops-Opening-Cocktail-Party-13

Company: Casa Tua

What was the first lesson learned when you entered into the F&B industry? That it’s a lot more difficult than I thought, for one.  People think the industry is very fickle, but if you stay creative and follow your passion, and not just the trend, the industry can be very rewarding.

How is Miami’s F&B industry unique? Do you find differences in this market as opposed to others? Miami is a very cosmopolitan city and represents all different types of cuisines and cooking styles. We are in a period of rapid growth now, as new neighborhoods and epicenters have developed that weren’t around when we first opened Casa Tua. It’s exciting to see how far we will go.

Favorite dish at Casa Tua: An artichoke salad to start followed by our signature branzino or tenderloin. I love to pair with a bottle of Sassicaia for a romantic night out.

Your most memorable Miami experience: 

Hurricane Andrew.  You realize how strong nature is and how little we are in comparison.

Biggest trends in the F&B industry for 2017: I’ve never been one for trend, but I do see a shift towards going back to basics.  The importance of simplicity, healthy and sustainable food and beverage – all of which will be very present in our new venture with Saks Fifth Avenue at Brickell City Centre.

connect with haute living National
Loader