Azul's William Crandall Fuses French, Asian Influences With German Heritage on New Menu

The upscale restaurant inside Brickell Key's Mandarin Oriental, has been helmed by many top toques. Michelle Bernstein, Clay Conley, Joel Huff and Jacob Anaya have all led the kitchen of Azul at some point since its inception. A sudden closure last year during the hotel's renovation period had many speculating whether the fine dining restaurant was going to reopen at all.

But it did so in April with a new look, new menu, and new chef. Previous sous chef William Crandall has stepped up to the plate as executive chef after being with the company for three years. Short Order was invited to get a taste of Crandall's new menu that's steered by French technique and Asian influences.

See also: At La Mar, Peruvian Classics Are Elevated to Haute Cuisine

Crandall is from Germany. Prior to his stint at Azul, the chef honed his culinary skills under Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Zimmerman at NoMi restaurant in Chicago. Since November, Crandall has been at work on the new menu at Azul, ordering new plates and hardware to compliment his clean and simple aesthetics.

Crandall launched the new menu in late June, implementing lots of locally sourced ingredients and summer flair into the seasonal fare. "The biggest influence in the menu comes from approaching classic recipes and somehow making them modern through playing with textures," says Crandall. "Keeping the same train of thought and integrity of a dish but trying to utilize what's local and also paying respect to the Mandarin Oriental by adding some Asian influence where it's necessary and makes sense."

This isn't your mom's gazpacho ($17), or in this case, my mom. In Spain, day-old bread and tomatoes are used to make the cold tomato summer soup. Crandall forgoes both and instead opts for almonds (normally used in white gazpacho) and yuzu meringue.

"I wanted to make a soup that was a tad more acidic, had more sugar content, and made your palate water as you're eating it," says Crandall. "I wanted to use something natural instead of using bread because of people who suffer from celiac disease or gluten allergies, so I upped the amount of almonds, which really turned out to be a good idea because the yuzu and almonds balance out." A little something else to balance it out, some king crab and nastartium gelato. Allow it to melt into the gazpacho -- a spoonful will add a little fizzle.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.

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