Michael Mina Dishes on International Smoke at Aventura Mall: "Fire Is the Start of All Cooking"

Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry
Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry Photo by Mad Maven Media
click to enlarge Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry - PHOTO BY MAD MAVEN MEDIA
Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry
Photo by Mad Maven Media
Though based in California, Michael Mina has had a long relationship with Miami. For the past decade, the chef has owned and operated restaurants such as Bourbon Steak, Stripsteak, and Pizza & Burger. Now, he's opening International Smoke, a barbecue concept.

The 200-seat restaurant, opening at Aventura Mall's Outdoor Oasis area in early 2019, is a partnership between Mina and cookbook author Ayesha Curry. This is the third outpost of International Smoke, which started as a pop-up in Mina's home base of San Francisco when the chef and the cookbook author/television host started talking about their respective love of food.

Mina describes the restaurant as a celebration of food as the heart of the community, with a "spotlight on how global approaches to fire, grilling, smoke, and international flavors create dishes that bring people together." The genesis of the concept, according to the chef, was his and Curry's travels. "Fire is the start of all cooking and every country shares this culinary spark. We infused techniques, flavors, and ingredients from different cultures, like Japanese, Jamaican, and Korean, with our own spin to make them truly unique."

The James Beard winner wanted to bring the collaborative barbecue concept to Miami. “Miami’s diversity, adrenaline-charged culture, and love for worldly cuisine made it the natural next step for our expansion plans. This city already feels like home to me and holds a big space in my heart."

Mina says he's drawn to Miami's "bold flavors, bold music, and great booze." He sees Miami as "busting with culture, art, and interesting people that aren’t afraid to dine outside of the box. Each of our restaurants in this area [is] completely unique from one another and I feel this showcases the variety and colorfulness that’s welcome in Miami."

The Aventura restaurant's design will incorporate graffiti murals painted by world-renowned colorist Edward Granger, who has done installations in the Design District and Piaget Miami.

Helmed by executive chef Jeffrey Hileman, the kitchen will turn out a menu of items made with local ingredients like smoke burrata with beets, mandarins, Calabrian chili, and curry; Sinaloa chicken served with flavorful sweet potatoes, avocado, and pickled red onion;  smoked Korean short rib with sticky rice, kimchi, scallion, and jalapeño; and St. Louis-style pork ribs made with an in-house artisanal spice rub, smoked low and slow for four hours and then finished with a choice of sauces such as traditional American BBQ, spicy al pastor, and sesame-gochujang.

Food will be paired with a cocktail program that features drinks made with local fruits, including a punch bowl made for sharing between five to seven people. Local craft beers and wines will also be offered.

The restaurant, set to open in the next month, will add to Aventura Mall's growing array of interesting dining options that includes Pubbelly Sushi, Serafina, Tap 42, and the Treats food hall.

International Smoke. 19501 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura; Opening winter 2019.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss