Behind the Line

Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Is Opening a "Beachy and Fun" Resto in South Beach

Alex Guarnaschelli, the Iron Chef, Food Network star, cookbook auteur, and top toque at Manhattan’s popular Butter Restaurant, is taking her talents to South Beach. Last week, reported Guarnaschelli will helm the restaurant opening next month inside the new Nautilus South Beach hotel at 1825 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. Called the Nautilus Cabana Club, the restaurant will focus on grilled fish and Mediterranean-influenced salads made with local ingredients. "We want this restaurant to feel, quite simply, beachy and fun," Guarnaschelli said in a news release. 

Clearly, Miami has been on the chef's mind for quite some time, as she told New Times in January she's "hoping to be part of a restaurant project here sometime in the near future." The interview was a few weeks before Guarnaschellli visited to participate in the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  At the time, New Times also asked the star about the restaurant and menu trends she foresees for 2015, to which she responded:

"I think there will be a continuation and elaboration upon vegetarian entrees centered on one vegetable; creative use of grains for dough, both savory and sweet; and the hamburger and cupcake will hold steady as their own food groups. As an extension of the broth craze, varied genres of soup will become all the rage as healthy, easily digestible and deeply flavored food."

At the Nautilus Cabana Club, Guarnaschelli is teaming up with chef de cuisine Lucas Marino. The two worked together at the Darby, a supper club in Manhattan where Guarnaschelli ran the kitchen until the restaurant closed in 2013. Her Miami eatery will be operated and managed by China Grill Management, and Sixty Hotels is in charge of the boutique-like property. "When developing this concept, we wanted to be more than just a restaurant; we wanted to create an experience [where] you can eat, dine, lounge anywhere, and move throughout our hotel comfortably," says Jason Pomeranc, CEO of Sixty Hotels. 

The talented toque is big on using American ingredients and paying homage to this country's classics, such as oysters Rockefeller and strawberry shortcake. Guarnaschelli trained under culinary masters like Larry Forgione, Guy Savoy, and Daniel Boulud and told New Times in an earlier interview that they all influenced her differently. "Larry Forgione inspired me to become a chef and celebrate American ingredients. Guy Savoy inspired me to pursue great flavor relentlessly. Daniel Boulud taught me that discipline and passion can coexist happily." 

Guarnaschelli's mom was a cookbook editor, and her father was an Italian and Chinese cooking enthusiast. Consequently, Guarnaschelli has been peeling potatoes since the age of 7, and today she encourages her young daughter to cook for fun. In 2012, she was bestowed the title of Iron Chef and says it was a great honor as well as a confidence booster. The cook is also seriously active on social media and can be quite a hilarious tweeter. “#BenedictCumberbatch is a tasty cake.” 

With the opening of Nautilus Cabana Club, Guarnaschelli will cement her place on Miami Beach's celebrity chef row, which includes Tom Colicchio, Masaharu Morimoto, Spike Mendelsohn, Dale Talde, Paul Qui, Scott Conant, Katsuya Uechi, Michael Mina, Michelle Bernstein, and Michael Schwartz.