Last night, the 10th annual Miami Spice program celebrated with a kickoff party at the Miami Beach Convention Center. VIPs were treated to extreme entertainment including contortionists and aerial performers from Cirque Eloize, but even the laypeople got to watch jazz flautist Nestor Torres belt out a tune center stage. Culinary demonstrations by Chefs Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink) and Tom Azar (City Hall) made the crowd hungry for more.
Now, we must note that cooking for thousands is certainly no easy task, but some chefs fared remarkably well, while a few plates were just a tad above edible. Here we pay homage to the top five who went all out to provide attendees with a special bite that was most reflective of the culinary talent they are truly capable of. This was a really difficult decision, but in the end, we chose between a balance of beautiful and tasty.
Now on to the winners of the night.
5. Executive Chef Paula DaSilva of 1500º at Eden Roc used a very
cool contraption to fill each little cup, which was sort of like a mango
soup meets delectable puree. It tasted very fresh from the farm, and
just like in a Cracker jack box, there was a surprise at the bottom.
Plump shrimp with skinny slices of pepper for heat; this was a sublime
food shooter for adults only.
serving style of the evening (each presented on wooden spoons that some
poor person is going to spend all day cleaning) and also wins big for
his tender lamb belly topped with baby carrots, summer perfect English
peas and a fresh salsa verde. It was a tiny bite that packed a really
slaw complemented the fatty pork well, with a slight textural crunch.
Plus, he wins for the best booth display, a big slab of bacon with a
visual tutorial of where that bacon comes from; thanks to the pig
who sacrificed so much to be our snack.
2. We literally could
not stop eating Executive Chef Peter Vauthy's Kobe meatballs, which we
labor of love because these babies tasted exactly the same as when
served in the restaurant, shocking really considering the scale. Covered
in tomato sauce and mascarpone made in-house, if we were stranded on a
desert island...well, you know. Winner of Miss Congeniality, hands down,
these are not your mamas meatballs.
1. And the culinary spirit
"brought it" to the table. His Japanese corn custard was made in the
traditional style, sans dairy, and crowned with a thin slice of Jamón
Ibérico ham. Unfortunately, we are not confident that everyone
understood how lucky we were to be eating this delicacy native only to
Spain, but the luscious flavor of this particular pork product is really
remarkable (at Laurenzo's Market, it costs $155 a pound at retail,
seriously). In addition to the beautiful plating details like edible
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flowers and a sliver of actual gold leaf, parmesan water added a subtle
salty aftertaste that highlighted the fresh corn perfectly. This was a
dish that required thought and dedication. "Gimme a J!"