BLT Steak chef de cuisine Daniel Ganem will pack his fancy chef whites and forgo fine dining to join the folks behind My Ceviche as executive chef of their second fast-casual concept, Laffa Mediterranean.
Before cofounder Sam Gorenstein opened My Ceviche, he honed his skills under the tutelage of culinary greats Laurent Tourondel and Michael Schwartz. His love affair with fresh seafood began at BLT Fish in Manhattan, grew during his time as sous-chef at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, and solidified when BLT Steak at the Betsy opened with Gorenstein as chef de cuisine. We know what you're thinking: BLT Steak is a steak house. True, but it's one of the few steak houses in the country to boast a sushi menu with a heavy emphasis on fish considering its proximity to the ocean, which is literally feet away.
It was at BLT Steak that Gorenstein met Daniel Ganem, who circa 2009, at the time of its opening, was Gorenstein's executive sous-chef. "Sam and I have always been kind of like brothers," Ganem says. And what are brothers for if not to pluck each other for new concepts and endeavors?
If you're shocked, that's the same sentiment that was felt throughout Miami when Gorenstein announced he would leave his position as executive chef of the Raleigh to open a seafood shack with no tables with friend Roger Duarte of George Stone Crab. Of course, this was in 2012 — three years later, My Ceviche has grown into a prolific locals spot with three locations in South Beach, Brickell, and South Miami, as well as three in the works (Miami International Airport, Coral Gables, and the Shops at Midtown). But that's not all: Early this year, the duo announced another venture: Laffa Mediterranean.
"We've been in talks about this for a year," Ganem says. This will be a change for the Miami native, whose culinary resumé spans the kitchens of Norman Van Aken at the Ritz-Carlton Lakes in Orlando; Michael Mina's Aqua and Bourbon Steak (which Ganem opened); Martin Baristegui's eponymous three-Michelin-star restaurant in Spain; Restaurant Michael Schwartz; and of course BLT Steak, which Ganem opened in 2009 and was tapped as executive chef by Tourondel himself.
Ganem attributes his change of heart toward cooking to making an impact. "It's different to be doing fast casual, but at one point you start thinking about how you can change the ethic of eating and society as a whole. The answer is something everyone can benefit from... Thoughtfully sourced ingredients shouldn't just be for the few who can afford fine dining; they should be for everyone. Hopefully, we can make those changes in Miami."
The opening of Laffa Mediterranean in Brickell is set for late summer. "We're thinking August," Ganem says. He's already hard at work on conceptualizing and finalizing the menu while still working behind the line at BLT Steak till July 3. "It's a change, but everything is for the better."
Indeed, as Gorenstein well knows, once you go fast casual, you never go back.
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