Michael Bloise's Italian grandmother introduced him to the cooking of southern Italy. By watching his Vietnamese mother in the kitchen, he learned the delicate subtleties of Asian cuisine. And global travels opened up numerous other gastronomic vistas.
Then came more formal education in Miami -- first studying at Johnson & Wales and then working his way up through the kitchens at 1220 at the Tides, the Gaucho Room at the Loews Hotel, and at Wish under chef E. Michael Reidt.
If it was as executive chef at Wish (2003 to 2008) that Bloise blossomed into a star chef, it was at American Noodle Bar, the beloved if short-lived Asian joint, that he showed what he could do when he did things his way -- unshackled from menu committees and such. The affordably priced venue allowed diners to customize their own noodle bowls and also showcased the chef's whimsical and creative side (as in fried cheeseburger dumplings).
Bloise is currently executive chef at Sushi Samba, the sexy Japanese/Peruvian/Brazilian restaurant on Lincoln Road. (Short Order recently took a look at pastry chef Michelle Duran's desserts there.) This "twitterview" is an unedited back-and-forth in 140 characters or less. Short and tweet -- er, sweet.
@Short_Order: What happened w/ American Noodle Bar?
@MichaelBloise: Differences of opinion obviously. Had my chance to escape, and did. Better vetting necessary.
You worked hard & really looked forward to ANB -- pissed it didn't pan?
Pissed? No. Upset? Sure. I only move forward. The best of me is ahead (although I'm glad they closed and can't fuck it up any further).
Still like to have your own place?
Maybe some day. Not a priority.
How come no Viet truck? You have the bloodline.
Claus-tro-pho-bi-a. I need my space, Lee. It's not you, it's me.
I understand Michael, really I do... Your style is to use multiple ingredients per dish -- isn't this going against trend of simple plates?
Simple is perception. Careful craftsmen create illusions.
You like to use fish sauce in your dishes as an invisible flavor booster -- have another cooking trick up your sleeve?
Been playing w/apple pectin and tapioca starch to give body to fatless vinaigrettes lately.
Sushi Samba is a good fit for you because...
... great infrastructure, lots of freedom, I get paid in sushi and fresh-muddled caipirinhas.
How would you define Sushi Samba food?
Has integrity, but not stuffy or pretentious. Flavors on opposite ends of spectrum, opposite cultures, balanced.
Know of any menu items you will add?
Got a bang 'em up XinXim interpretation -- chicken/shrimp terrine a la plancha.
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You've been touting farmed Peruvian Amazone paiche [pai-ché] & put it on SS menu. What fish is it most similar 2 in taste/texture?
Flavor delicate like turbot, texture meaty like very moist sword or even chicken.
Is it expensive?
It is, but I know a guy...
Tomorrow: The tweeterview teeters onward with Bloise's culinary influences, favorite cookbook, the chefs he talks food with, and what he learned from Frank Randazzo and E. Michael Reidt.