The Setai's Mathias Gervais Takes a Classic Approach to Dining

Setai executive chef Mathias Gervais took a simple, classic approach to menu changes at the hotel's two restaurants.For a while, Miami restaurants were obsessed with combining different cuisines and taking a fusion approach to dining.

From Latin fusion to the ever-popular Asian fusion, one taste was never enough. But today, things are changing. At the Setai Hotel in South Beach, executive chef Mathias Gervais is steering away from fusion and embracing a more traditional approach.

"I respect the flavors different seasonings bring and also value individual tastes," says Gervais. "You will never see more than three flavors in any of my dishes. The new menus are a reflection of my style. They attempt to capture the simplicity and elegance of Mediterranean cuisine."

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He enrolled in culinary school in his native France at the tender age of 16 and worked under the tutelage of renowned chefs. Celebrated French chef Marc Veyrat took Gervais under his wing early on. He also spent time working with Roger Vergé and Joël Robuchon, the latter of which contributed to Gervais' passion for simple and classic dishes.

Gervais' style and focus is evident throughout the menu at the Restaurant, one of the two dining spaces at the hotel. "I want the guest when they walk out the restaurant to feel like they just left the Mediterranean," he says.

Dishes like polenta alla Livornese -- semolina corn served with Mediterranean vegetables, crispy farm-poached egg, zucchinis, lardon, and preserved lemon; $24 -- help ensure Gervais' desire is fulfilled.

The interior at The Setai has a "more sexy touch" as executive chef Gervais put it.While dishes from Spain, France, Italy and even Morocco make their way onto the new menu at the Restaurant, the influence of Gervais' wife and her Japanese heritage show up on the menu at the Grill on the opposite end of the hotel.

The Grill maintained its core steakhouse roots, but took on an authentic Asian twist with additions such as sashimi, miso, tempura, and kimchi. Meats are sourced strictly from famed New York provider Pat LaFrieda and dishes come in small and medium portions to encourage family-style dining.

At the hotel, Gervais shifts the menu every four months. Sneak tastes can often be found on the weekly brunch menu.

"Our goal is to cater both locals and hotel guests," says director of food and beverages, Robert Muehlich. "We want to stay elegant, but relaxed and not stiff."

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