The Pérez Art Museum Miami made its debut last week, and so did Verde Restaurant and Bar, the museum's culinary destination. The restaurant is the brainchild of namesake Jorge Pérez and restaurateur Stephen Starr.
Short Order chatted with Verde's executive chef, Nicolay Adinaguev, about the restaurant's Art Basel debut, his menu favorites, and the challenges he faced before opening day.
Short Order: The name "Verde" suggests a menu using sustainable ingredients and offering health benefits. What was the inspiration behind the name?
Nicolay Adinaguev: This building was built with green in mind, from concrete to the vegetation. I think It's pretty rare to see a structure of this magnitude with a green certification, so with that said, we had absolutely no other choice but to celebrate green, and here in Miami, we call it "Verde."
Any project stamped with the names Stephen Starr and Jorge Pérez sets high expectations. Did you feel a sense of pressure when creating the menu for Verde?
Of course we did, but we pushed through it. This is my second Stephen Starr venture, with the first being Steak 954 at the W Hotel Fort Lauderdale, so I'm well aware of the expectations both the restaurant group and the public have of me. As far as Jorge Pérez goes, he is a Miami icon, and after reading about how his donation was linked through Bill Gates' philanthropy group, it made me even more excited to be a part of this. These are the things that help us push through the pressure.
What are some of your favorite items on the menu?
This isn't easy to answer because we fell in love with a lot of the dishes while doing the research and development of the menu. But If I had to name two that I think represent what we do here at Verde, it would be our squash blossom pizza and our lacinato kale and farro dish. Both of those dishes embody what Verde is all about.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the Art Basel opening?
Openings are already madness, but add construction and all the tourists in town for Art Basel and you have the perfect recipe for chaos. We basically had to be two steps ahead so that we wouldn't get caught off-guard.
How does the restaurant combine Starr's vision with PAMM's?
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Stephen Starr is already art-centric. You can tell by taking a look at every single one of his restaurants. He paints pictures to create the perfect environment for the food and beverage. Both Starr and PAMM share a very elegant style, which is why I think it's a perfect marriage.
Art Basel in Miami Beach grows with every installment, and this year the spotlight was on this particular project. How did you prepare for a grand opening of this magnitude?
Support, support, support. We have had an amazing team of people down from Philly and NY helping us bring Verde to life. It's truly all about camaraderie and sharing a vision.