Many Miami foodies might not know the name Michael Clements, but to the chefs and restaurateurs who present plates to a hungry public, Clements was one of the most important people on the city's culinary scene.
Clements was the owner of American Food Equipment, a company that provides kitchen equipment to some of the best restaurants in South Florida. In addition, he helped design kitchen build-outs for clients such as Blue Collar, Blackbrick, Hank & Harry's, Area 31, Prime 112, Mignonette, and many others. If you've eaten at a restaurant in Miami, chances are he had a hand in it.
Clements passed away this past Tuesday, February 27, around 4 p.m. at Mount Sinai Medical Center after suffering pulmonary complications for about two weeks, according to restaurateur and close friend Buzzy Sklar. Clements is survived by his wife, Melissa Marie Clements, and his two children.
Sklar says he spoke with Clements in the hospital, where the restaurant supply executive had asked for bedside delivery of some deli sandwiches because he didn't like the hospital food. Sklar obliged his friend's request and texted him to see if he had received the provisions from his Hank & Harry's. "He sent me a text saying, 'Good food makes everything OK.' That was literally the last text I received from him."
Sklar recalls their long friendship. "Michael and I would bump heads, but like brothers we would give each other a big hug after. He had the biggest heart. He bent over backwards helping industry people design their kitchens for nothing."
Some of Miami's heaviest hitters have taken to social media to express their condolences.
Coyo Taco's Scott Linquist said on Facebook: "OMG we lost a Miami food business legend."
Pubbelly's Jose Mendin related a story of how Pubbelly might have never opened if not for Clements' faith in the restaurant and its partners.
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Nicole Votano (Charcoal, the Wynwood Yard) noted she was "heartbroken" over the news of his passing.
Phuket "Cake" Thongsodchareondee (Cake Thai) gave thanks for Clements' professional kitchen advice.