José Andrés's Love Affair with Miami, Part One: The Tale Behind The Bazaar

Born in the Asturias, José Andrés is widely credited with introducing avant-garde Spanish cuisine to the United States. This remarkable feat was accomplished through his empire of highly regarded restaurants. His status as a Made in Spain PBS Food television star didn't hurt either.

A majority of Andrés's restaurants are located in Washington, D.C, including Minibar and Jaleo. He won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2003, Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2007 and Outstanding Chef in 2011.

See also Jose Andres's Love Affair, Part 2

A partnership with Sam Nazarian, CEO of SBE Hotel Group, led to the birth of the Bazaar in Los Angeles. The second outpost of the Philippe Starck-designed restaurant opened at South Beach's SLS Hotel in June 2012. Andrés's debut in Miami was anticipated with a whole lot of hype and even greater expectations.

Andrés has long been in love with the Magic City. In fact, the ebullient powerhouse chef has been eyeing South Florida ever since he visited as a young man in the Spanish Navy. "I dreamed of one day opening a restaurant here," he says.

The Bazaar in South Beach tells an eclectic tale -- one built upon Miami's various influences and connections. "I don't open restaurants, really. I tell stories, and the story of the Bazaar South Beach is about many things that are important to me."

The experience at the Bazaar is about mixing classic ingredients and creative preparations with the flavors of Spain, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. What is most exceptional about the restaurant is Andrés's dedication to innovative presentations and texture.

"I've always believed that food is about connecting the senses," he says. "It's about enjoying and having a great experience overall. I want my guests to smile; I want them to feel like they are really having a connection with the food, the restaurant, and the people around them."

Andrés's cuisine captivates with ingredients such as liquid mozzarella -- an ivory sphere that explodes in one's mouth, bursting with the creamy flavors of fresh cheese -- and a variety of foams, featuring airy essences that exude vibrant flavors like coffee or hibiscus. At the Bazaar, the air pulsates with utter excitement.

But the restaurant also serves its share of traditional items, such as Iberian ham from Spain. And chicken croquetas celebrate the simplicity of Spanish cooking with a kick; the fried cylinders are plated in a resin sneaker-shaped sculpture designed by Sami Hayek (actress Salma's brother).

"What we look for is comfort food that people know, and that in a way becomes the Trojan horse... to introduce new things in new ways," Andrés proclaims. "For me, it's about taking a dish or flavors you may know but then transforming that into something very unique and special, because I want you to say to yourself, Wow!"

Stay tuned for tomorrow's second post with José Andrés, featuring his love for Calle Ocho and sexy vegetables.

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Emily Codik