José Andrés's Love Affair with Miami, Part Two: Calle Ocho and Sexy Vegetables

Traveling inspires José Andrés, helping him think of new presentations for a variety of ingredients and flavors. In fact, Miami's the Bazaar was influenced by Andrés's extensive travels throughout Asia. In Singapore, he noticed a resemblance between the country's art deco buildings and those of South Beach. He became fascinated with the cuisine of Singapore and thus added dishes such as siu mai pork -- dumplings made with pork, shrimp, and peanuts -- to Miami's menu. He also revamped traditional street food with plates like kueh pai ti -- dough cups filled with shrimp, peanuts, and chili sauce.

See also:

- Jose Andres's Love Affair, Part One

Andrés is also fiercely passionate about an often-neglected food group: fruits and vegetables. "There is something very sexy about [them]. I love the freshness, the juiciness, and the explosion of flavors that you find."

Animal protein tends to be more about technique and cooking. Andrés says of vegetables: "I'm so inspired because there are so many possibilities, and in a way it allows me to be more creative." He is easily turned on by the aroma of a fresh tomato or mango. To him, fruits and vegetables are less about the five servings a day and more about a window for creativity.

Although the chef visited Miami extensively in the past, the planning and launching of the Bazaar allowed him and his team to rediscover the city. "I love walking down Calle Ocho because there you will find some of the best, authentic Latin food," he explains enthusiastically.

For him, nothing tops the Cuban food in Miami. In fact, the cuisine directly influenced many of his menu items. The restaurant pays homage to the Cuban sandwich, for example. His version is made with light bread, oozing cheese sauce, fresh Iberian pork, mustard, and cucumber. He credits his inspiration to SW Eighth Street's iconic Versailles -- the spot he claims serves the best traditional Cuban fare.

But he also enjoys visiting friends in South Beach. When in Miami, Andrés makes sure to visit "his boys" at Barceloneta and Pubbelly. "I love what they are doing," he says.

José Andrés -- remarkable chef, innovator, and restaurateur -- is clearly filled with a lot of love.

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Emily Codik