At Roots & Freens, organic all the way is the motto. Chef and copartner Carlos Torres has a resumé that spans a decade in the kitchens of top toques Douglas Rodriguez, Michelle Bernstein, and Michael Mina.
Now he's bringing healthful and gourmet cuisine and cold-pressed juices right to your door, at least until he opens his storefront at the Lab in Wynwood in two months.
Coming from Colombia, Torres was shocked to see Latin food plated like fine dining at his first restaurant job in New York City. After asking the chef above him who his mentor was, Torres went home and Googled a name that would change his culinary career -- Douglas Rodriguez. "I discovered Nuevo Latino cuisine and knew I had to work for the best," says Torres. "I wanted to put myself in good restaurants with James Beard-winning chefs, so I moved to Miami and started working for him immediately."
Torres also worked for Magic City sweetheart Michelle Bernstein and Michael Mina, assisting with the opening of Bourbon Steak. Wanting to learn more about a traditional American steakhouse, he took a job a BLT Steak. Rodriguez later gave him the opportunity to be sous chef and open De Rodriguez, where he moved up to executive chef and then went ahead to open De Rodriguez Ocean before it was time to move on.
"I worked for him and other chefs for five years and I wanted to know if the talent that I had, or that I thought I had was going to be well received," says Torres. So he quit and took a three-month break from the kitchen, before getting a call from 660 at the Angler's who was looking for a chef at the time. "It was right after Giorgio left, and I knew that job would give me the free time to work on this concept for Roots and Freens, so I took it."
It was there that he worked on developing the concept and tested the juices. "My partner, Borja de la Plaza is the one that had this idea for freens -- cold pressed juice. He's obsessed with juice" says Torres. "Which by the way is much harder to make than regular juice. It takes eight times as much."
Roots & Freens is located at the Lab in Wynwood, but there's a conflict of interest. The Lab happens to be a Goldman Property, and JugoFresh, located not too far away, also another Goldman Property. "Goldman doesn't want two companies competing," Torres says, "which is fine, because we're a food restaurant and juice is an add on."
The solution: delivering juice, which is fine considering delivery is all that Roots & Freens is providing until licenses get completely worked out and the restaurant can fully open for service in a couple of months. It's also great exposure for the brand. Torres is offering himself to do tasting for corporate offices (now a bulk of his business), to see if they buy into having gourmet lunch delivered at least one day a week.
Menus are prepared in advance and according to seasonal ingredients. Torres has the next three months planned out, but you can go on the website and check out four weekly menus in advance. If you buy five days, you get the fifth free, so you really pay for only four. And if you order and pay through Facebook, you get 10 percent off your order. Each meal costs $12.50, and delivery is included.
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"It's all about going back to the basics," Torres says. "To our roots, earth. Miami is a top city to get organic produce, so I'm going to be as organic as I can be. Our containers are recyclable, lid is made out of corn, bottles are glass instead of plastic, and our food is meant to be eaten at room temperature."
Roots & Freens is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until they run out of stuff. Delivery window depends upon the route, but their mission is to always get to you by noon. Delivery areas include Blue Lagoon, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, downtown, Brickell, Midtown, Wynwood, and Design District, and soon Doral.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha