Behind the Line

Backstage with Michael Schwartz, Giorgio Rapicavoli, and Aussie Celeb Chef Pete Evans

Just two weeks ago, neither Michael Schwartz nor Giorgio Rapicavoli had ever met Pete Evans. The local chefs/restaurateurs certainly knew plenty about the award-winning Australian-based chef, author and celebrity TV host, but their first face-to-face interaction involved a camera crew and gourmet mushrooms. More specifically, the three toques gathered at Sublicious Farms in Oakland Park, where they picked exotic mushrooms. Afterwards, they headed to shop for seafood at Casablanca Fish Market on the Miami River. The fruits of their laborious field trips would eventually become the basis of a meal they'd prepare with Evans for their family and friends. 

They were being filmed for season three of Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking, a series produced by Fine Cooking magazine and WGBH Boston (the largest producer of PBS content in the Americas). In the show, host Evans traverses the U.S. to team up with innovative cooks and food artisans known for their use of regional ingredients. The final goal is to create a laid-back yet inspiring feast. 

Miami marked Evans' third American stop, and during day one of his culinary journey through the Magic City he cooked alongside chefs Michelle Bernstein and Lindsay Autry at Homestead's Fruit and Spice Park. Day two was a boys only event that culiminated with Schwartz, Rapicavoli and Evans preparing a feast behind a backdrop of Biscayne Bay. To be exact, the shoot was held at at the gorgeous waterfront sales offices of Paraiso Bay. When completed in 2017, the Edgewater condominium project will be home to a new waterfront dining concept from James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.

Miami New Times was invited to catch-up with the male chefs backstage and to watch them flaunt their knife skills in front of the cameras. The show will air in the fall so we don't want to give too much away now, but here are some highlights from the shoot we couldn't resist sharing:

Michael Schwartz gives us a little peak inside his future restaurant at Paraiso Bay
"The resto will be inspired by this" said the chef while pointing towards the view of Biscayne Bay. The farm-to-table pioneer and force behind Miami favorites such as Michael's Genuine Food & Drink and Harry's Pizzeria, told us the restaurant will have a strong seafood presence but won't be marketed as a fish place. There will also be a wood burning grill, and a casual, decidedly beachy vibe. "When you think about it, in Miami there are few places to eat on the water, let alone on the open water," said Schwartz, adding the restaurant is still ways away from its opening date around the start of 2017. Sounds like it will be worth the wait. 

Giorgio Rapicavoli gets sentimental talking about Michael Schwartz
"It's wild to be working with Michael Schwartz. Six years ago I was looking at his menus trying to steal recipes," said the Chopped winner and man behind the popular Coral Gables spot, Eating House. "It’s cool to grow up seeing him as someone to get inspiration from and seeing him as a mentor, then getting to cook with him on a peer level is pretty awesome. It’s very rewarding. He’s one of two people in the city who have a Beard (award) and he wants me to cook with him." 

Michael Schwartz gets sentimental talking about Giorgio Rapicavoli
"He's young, innovative and is really pushing the envelope, and we need that. What I love about Miami now is how people are working together and sharing suppliers. It's a change and I love it. Cooking is about teamwork and making each other look good, and cooking competitions tend to bring out the worst in people," Schwartz told Evans. In response, the Aussie cook said the camaraderie is "refreshing" and exemplifies the show's anti-competition ethos. 

Pete Evans talks about why it's good to be Pete Evans, and why food tourism is the way of the future 
Not only is the handsome Evans a bonafide celebrity down under with hit TV shows, restaurants and cookbooks, but he genuinely likes what he does. In the case of a Moveable Feast, he loves getting to go on culinary adventures with local chefs and building relationships with them. "It’s cool being me; I end up creating lifelong friendships with the chefs, and I get to see the best of what each state has to offer culinary wise which is going to be be a growing form of tourism I think, especially in America," said Evans. He thinks people's interest in exploring local farms, farmer's markets, seafood shops, etc. is growing because people are now longing to understand the source of their food. "There’s been such a disconnect to where our food comes from that our health is screaming and our intelligence is screaming for us to reconnect to something real," said the health-conscious chef clad in "food is medicine" T-shirt. 

Michael Schwartz reminisces about the Design District 
"It’s crazy. I think what's happening now is great. Sometimes to me it just seems like what happened is I blinked and now my neighbors are Cartier, Rolex and Louis Vuitton, and some of those stores are flagship stores for the brand. I remember 8-9 years ago trying to raise money to open Michael's Genuine and people thinking I was crazy because you could shoot a canon down the street." 

Giorgio Rapicavoli goes vegetarian
Not quite, but he did say that for the first time in the history of Eating House, there are more vegetarian dishes on the menu than meat ones. For Rapicavoli, it's simply a reflection of his own dietary preferences as of late and his desire to eat lighter in general. For the episode he grilled blue, pink and white oyster mushrooms from Sublicious Farms which he topped with a chimichurri sauce. They were charred on the outside and rare on the inside and absolutely fantastic. And yes, they're currently on offer at Eating House. 

Pete Evans shares his stay-fit secret 
He has been an adherent of the Paleo lifestyle for four years and produces a series called The Paleo Way. "I think about what I eat and where it comes from and what it does to my body and my mind," said Evans. FYI: otherwise known as the caveman diet, eating Paleo means eliminating foods our ancient ancestors wouldn't have had access to such as dairy and processed grains. 

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.