How Robert Siegmann Sent a Bomb Through the TSA Checkpoint
|Photo by Riki Altman|
|Siegmann and Landini show off their Bomb and gado gado. Hmm, that sounds a bit obscene, huh?|
So how did Icebox Café at MIA come about?
I always felt, as a traveler and a foodie, that good food at airports was lacking. I didn't understand why, as a traveler, you would need to compromise. These are people with disposable income. So I started inquiring about it no less than eight years ago but MIA was closed to any outsider.
But I never forgot about it. Last year, last August, I decided to try it again and I went online. Within a matter of weeks I was on a mass e-mailing. I sat down with 200 other people, teams of people from Burger King, McDonald's, the biggest franchises in the world. Talk about being a fish out of water! The director came up and started talking about this being the last bid [opportunity] for 10 years. I sat with my attorney and said, is this feasible?
How did you get in there with all those major chains that seem to run the roost?
Airports are limited to mass concessionaires nationwide. This was one of those few opportunities of a lifetime when they decided to open up to entrepreneurs. They wanted to give local entities a chance. Adrian Songer--I don't know his exact title but I think he is the director of concessions at MIA--I think he and his team were responsible for diversifying the bidding base.
How did you alter your menu to fit the concept? Or are the selections entirely different?
AL: It was a mix of taking our top sellers and bringing a part of Icebox Cafe to the airport. It was an adaptation of our product. There were many things we couldn't do.
RS: We had physical limitations. They do not allow you to have a hood there. We treated MIA as a catered event. We truck [meals] over two or three times a day. We brought a lot of our most popular staples that were adaptable.
RS: The curry chicken. It is hugely successful at the airport as well. We have our gado gado there [Editor's note: look for the recipe Monday.]. And we have the largest selection of grab and go items. We wanted to maintain it in our theme, which is healthy, approachable, simple, delicious food.
And you do in-flight meals, too?
RS: Our website has it all. You go on there, order your meal, and we'll have it ready for you in a lunchbox that you can take on your flight.
And those decadent desserts? Robert, are you still baking all these?
RS: I used to do all the baking, until five or six years ago. We have a pastry chef and a baking team of five people.
Just for the cafe?
RS: For both locations. And we do wholesale. We sell to caterers and hotels and other restaurants. It's a lot. Right now we're focusing on our staples, which is 30 products. When people come in and say, 'I can't find anything,' I say, are you kidding? We've got cakes, brownies, tarts, cookies, ice cream cakes... What do you want? And we do throw in wild cards to take advantage of seasonality.
RS: During winter season we'll do pumpkin, ginger, cranberry. Now we do a ginger layer cake with orange buttercream.