Intercontinental Hotel West Miami's Chef Darren Lee's Experimental Locally Sourced Menu
The hotel recently invited Short Order to their Armillary Grill restaurant to guinea pig the beta phase of the menu. Here's what we learned and what we think...
The dragon fruit came from Robert Is Here fruit stand in South Dade. Robert was the agricultural expert the hotel consulted for the menu, and the guy they bought from. Chef Darren Lee explained that when they move out of the experimental phase they'll need to develop relationships with wholesalers as opposed to retailers. Organic dealers, put your bids in.
Chef Darren Lee is third generation Chinese-Jamaican. He says "One thing I learned from living in Jamaica, when you start with something good, a little salt and pepper and it's perfect. A lot of the things we get in Florida come from South America 3 weeks ago. In Jamaica it was in the ground three days ago." So he has an appreciation for what locally sourced products offer in terms off flavor.
The hotel asked my opinion so here goes. Find a cost effective means to get your local products. Spend the money and do it right. Convince your corporate overlords that the business traveler client base of the Doral hotel want and appreciate locally grown flavor as opposed to just locally influenced. Once you get it going, keep it moving with the seasons, work hard, and make it taste good. Basically, you already know. Thanks for the free meal.
More interestingly, Chef Darren Lee used to cook for Strawberry Hill resort outside of Kingston, Jamaica. Chris Blackwell, ther guy who started Island Records, is the owner. Lee says "If you saw this man on the road, this multi millionaire, he'd be in flip flops, shorts and a t- shirt, a real cool guy. I cooked for him a couple times. He loves his spicy food."
Click here for more info on the Armillary Grill restaurant.