Desserts

How a Collaboration Between the Salty and Versailles Started in Texas

The Salty x Versailles ropa vieja bun.
The Salty x Versailles ropa vieja bun. Photo by D. Margherite
The Salty (formerly the Salty Donut) has become known for its creative doughnut collaborations with some of Miami's best brands like Salt & Straw ice cream and Knaus Berry Farm.

This latest collaboration, however, pairs the Salty with one of Miami's most iconic restaurants: Little Havana mainstay, Versailles. If you're thinking the Salty might be making a flan or guava doughnut with the Calle Ocho icon, you're incorrect. The Salty created a savory ropa vieja bun that fills the doughnut shop's signature 24-hour baked brioche with Versailles' ropa vieja and cheese.

Even more interesting is the origin story of this creation.

The Salty cofounder, Andy Rodriguez, tells New Times that the Miami mashup started in Dallas. The Texas shop had just done a brisket kolache using meat from Terry Black's BBQ. The collaboration was a success and the Salty posted the savory pastry on its Instagram page. "We have one Instagram for all of our locations, and we started getting messages from Miamians asking for a similar collaboration. People started to flood our inbox saying, 'You're based in Florida but where's the Florida love?'" Rodriguez said he was floored by the response. "This was meant to be a pilot to see if anyone even cared. We discovered that yes, they did care."

The Salty team got together to figure out what would be the Miami equivalent of an iconic Texas barbecue place for a savory item. "I don't even remember who said it first, but Versailles was mentioned," says Rodriguez, who admits the idea was perfection. "They've been around forever and they're super iconic."

There was one small problem with the collaboration, according to Rodriguez: "The people at Versailles had no idea about it yet."  Rodriguez mentioned the idea to his mother, who gave him a bit of good news. "She said that my grandfather, Jose ‘Pepe’ Sanchez, and Versailles' founder, Felipe Valls, were good friends. They were in Miami at the same time and while Felipe opened Versailles, my grandfather opened bakeries and cafés." With a connection established, Rodriguez said the reception by the staff of Versailles was "super receptive."

Rodriguez then asked the Salty's director of pastry innovation, Audrey Scheib, to fly to Miami to dine at Versailles and get a feel for the restaurant and its flavors. Scheib then presented the samples to both the Salty and Versailles teams. Says Rodriguez, "Everyone went nuts. It was the coolest thing."

The resulting ropa vieja bun ($4.95) will be available at the Salty's Wynwood and South Miami locations on weekends only, starting Saturday, July 30. The bun will also be available for delivery through Uber Eats and DoorDash, while supplies last.

Rodriguez can't wait to see the reaction of fans of the Salty and Versailles. "I think this is the coolest thing we've done. When you taste one, it just makes sense."

So what's next for the Salty? Well, Rodriguez says the team is working on another collaboration with Versailles. After that, the sky's the limit.

When asked if there's anyone that he would love to do a collaborative doughnut with, Rodriguez doesn't hesitate for one second. "I would want to do a collaboration with Thomas Keller. I've been a fan since I was a kid. I was obsessed before I even knew what a Michelin star was. I just want to get in the kitchen and watch him work."

The Salty. 50 NW 23rd St #112, Miami and 6022 S Dixie Hwy, South Miami; saltydonut.com.
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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