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Behind the Line: The Grill at the Setai

"Why use oil if you're using Serrano ham?" asks chef Jonathan Wright. He's referring to taking advantage of the natural fat of what many foodies consider the finest ham in the world, and that philosophy extends to all the dishes at the Grill, where the best ingredients are flown in for use in a menu of "predominantly European with an emphasis on French and Mediterranean cooking."

The Grill is one of four restaurants at one of South Beach's swankest hotel properties, the Setai, and we were in the kitchen Friday night to document the staff's interaction with their ingredients from prep to plate.

Here's a look around the joint, from the front to the back of the house.

One of the most interesting facts about the Setai is that it imports not only ingredients but also employees. To maintain the highest levels of authenticity at the Asian-themed hotel, the Setai brings in workers from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and other countries to work in all areas of the property.

Workers are part of a special visa program that sees them work between South Beach and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in six-months increments for three years at a time. Chef Jonathan Wright appreciates his employees' dedication to their positions, commitment to excellence, and thirst for knowledge and experience that he has found lacking in American applicants. However, qualified American employees work there as well, right alongside their Asian counterparts.

Chef Jonathan Wright's passion for his craft is evidenced by his excited state when speaking about it. He tells Short Order he sees food as a valid art form and more because it is an experience that affects all the senses.

Thank you to chef Jonathan Wright, sous chef Matthew Fasekas, and kitchen staff Gerry Ekaputra, Nendi Andriansyah, Indra Iskandar, Giovanna Alvarez Delli Compagni, Cassandra Tripaldi, and Joseph.

Log on to setai.com/dining/thegrill for more info.

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