If the movie Chef taught us anything, it's that every chef yearns for the creative freedom to run a kitchen. The film also predicted the next trend in the food industry, at least in Miami: food bloggers partnering with chefs for their first solo endeavor.
Blue Collar's Danny Serfer opened Mignonette with friend and MiamiRankings.com blogger Ryan Roman, and come summer 2015, Bachour Bakery & Cafe will bring famed J&G Grill pastry chef Antonio Bachour's sweets to Brickell with the help and financial backing of blogger Javier Ramirez (AKA GourmandJ) and chef Henry Hane.
Striking a trifecta, J&G Grill chef de cuisine Brad Kilgore recently announced his departure from the Jean-Georges Bal Harbour outpost to open Alter with Ramirez and wine enthusiast Leo Monterrey. The progressive American restaurant in the heart of Wynwood is set to open in February. Its first service, however, will take place this Thursday, November 20, at Miam Café.
"It's kinda cool how it worked out," Kilgore says. "I was sitting in a café with my two partners and talking about a timeline on the building of Alter when the thought of a pop-up popped up." That café was Miam Café in the Wynwood Building, located just a few blocks from the spot where Alter is set to open. "We thought it would be a great way to preview the restaurant and also support our new neighborhood."
The trio shopped around for a place where Alter made the most sense and ultimately decided on Wynwood because of the area's flourishing creative community. "The way I want my food to be seen is from a creative standpoint. People here want to take care of their environment and build things from the ground up, and that's what we want Alter to be representative of -- Miami as well as the neighborhood."
Alter will house an organic garden where Kilgore will grow his own produce and herbs while trying to keep the smallest footprint possible. "Eventually I want to get to the point where we're making soil from the compost of the restaurant."
As for the restaurant's food, the Kansas City native prefers not to categorize it but pegs it as progressive American with flavors from around the world. "I don't like to put a label on my cuisine, because once you put boundaries on it, you put boundaries on creativity."
To get a glimpse into Kilgore's imagination, head to Miam Café tomorrow at 7 p.m. for the first of Alter's many pop-up dinners. Two weekly four-course menus priced at $59 per person (with an optional wine pairing for $29) will lead up to Art Basel. For Miami's biggest week of the year, Kilgore has invited some of Miami's best chefs for five-course collaborations priced at $79 per person.
A special dinner Wednesday, December 3, with artist and Miami native Austyn Weiner will showcase a series of never-before-seen artistic prints inside plexiglass plates, which Kilgore will use as the inspiration and vessel for his food. "The prints will change between every course, which I'll plate on top of each time, using different colors of food as well as sauces and purées to mimic the art that will reveal itself as diners eat." The collaboration costs a steep $300, but attendees will be able to walk away with prints from the evening valued far higher. "As far as I know, this hasn't been done before."
The lineup kicks off December 1 with William Crandall and continues nightly with Giorgio Rapicavoli, Weiner, Chef Bee, a Friday-night surprise, and Brett Pelaggi from Uvaggio. And although the Basel menus have yet to be released, the one for the first week is out for viewing and includes beef tartare with king crab, warm ghee vinaigrette, and African spices; a soft egg with brûléed scallop mousse, chives, and truffle pearls; grouper cheeks with nori and dill, grains, celeriac, and shoyu hollandaise; and cinnamon-smoked apple with miso sabayon, cider caramel, and poppyseed croquant. All pop-up dinners will end on a sweet note -- Miam Café chef Gail Goetsch (formerly from Yardbird and Essensia) will make petits fours.
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To get a taste of Alter before it opens in February, purchase tickets via altermiami.com.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha