In part two of our interview, The Forge's chef Dewey LoSasso discusses the "Mango Gang," where he eats at one in the morning and The Forge's impressive wine list. You can read part one of our interview with Dewey LoSasso here.
When you first opened, you weren't doing specials. When did you start doing specials?
In the past two months. It depends on availability. If soft shell crabs are in season, we fly them down. We had soft shell crabs a month ago. I think it gets people interested. They don't expect soft shell crabs at The Forge right now. Or trigger fish with local carrots. People think of The Forge as one way and that's changed a lot. People are surprised by the lightness of the room and the food.
How does being around so much wine inspire you?
Our sommelier Gino Santangelo, for me, is like a human enomatic machine. The machines and technology are great. But for people who don't want that, we have Gino. It's amazing that we have both. When I did the tastings for the cheese plate, we had the white truffle pecorino, Bermuda triangle goat cheese and grilled flatbread. I wanted to do a Riesling syrup reduction. I had Gino at the tasting. We also tried pinot noir ice cream. For all wine-related dishes, I go to Gino. That's inspiring for me.
You were known for hosting fun theme dinners at North 110. Will you be doing that at The Forge?
Yes. There will be different events. I love movie theme parties, Halloween and truffle season. We keep saying we will do these things once it slows down, but it's not slowing down.
Do you miss running your own restaurant or are you glad not to be the owner?
It's not like that. I worked for Jeffrey Chodorow and Micky Wolfson, and now I'm working with Shareef. I always treated every restaurant I worked in as a chef as an owner. I would always do things out of my box as a chef. I've always been aggressive with whatever I do. It's not about the dining room or the kitchen; it's about the restaurant. In a way, I'm more proud of The Forge than I am of North 110. This is on a grander scale. And the history of The Forge is something I am very respectful of.
Were you a frequent diner at The Forge?
No. I only ate here three or four times. When I was working on the beach, I was working. I live in Miami Shores, so when I was off I tended not to come to the beach. I'm very serious when I'm working. I don't go out. For me, my days off are about playing guitar, listening to music, cooking, food and wine. Restaurants have never been work to me. It's what I love to do since I'm 13 years old. This isn't a job; it's about who you are. Shareef feels the same way. He and I have bonded in such a big way. It's like family.
You have been associated with the so-called "Mango Gang" of the '90s, along with Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken, Mark Militello and Douglas Rodriguez). What were those early days in Miami's culinary scene like?
I know that's out in the press about me, but for me, the Mango Gang was always Norman, Mark and Allen. That's it. A lot of people have piggybacked on that. With all due respect to Doug, I really think the Mango Gang was those three and that's it.
There are chefs very identified with Miami right now, such as Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz and Andrea Curto-Randazzo, yet there is no label to their cooking style. What do you think of the scene here now?
I think it's one of the most dynamic scenes around. If Escoffier was alive today, he'd be in Miami. Miami is not just South Beach. Miami is the Keys, farmers in West Perrine and the Design District.
What do you cook at home?
I cook with my kids a lot. I like roast chicken with lemon and garlic. My wife, Dale, is a really good cook. She made pork chops with hot Italian peppers the other night.
Where do you like to eat in Miami?
I like going out at one in the morning to Yakka-San. There's also Sang's, which is open until one in the morning. They have great salt-and-pepper squid.
What food trend will we be seeing for the rest of 2010?
With the Gulf oil spill, I think you are going to see a trend of farm-raised fish. It got a bad rap initially. I heard the wild salmon lobbyists influenced that a little bit. I don't know if that's true or not. Farm-raised fish is going to have an upturn in the near future.
What do you want diners to take away from a meal at The Forge?
I'm just building on a great tradition. It's a new restaurant, though. The word classic dish is passé when it comes to this restaurant. There happen to be some classic dishes, but because it works.