Michael Schwartz's Genuine Potluck at Books and Books
Michael Schwartz made his first Miami appearance to promote his new cookbook, Michael's Genuine Food, on Saturday. Schwartz conversed with Sun-Sentinel food writer John Tanasychuk before a packed house at Books & Books Coral Gables. Indeed, Tanasychuk started the Q & A by calling to order the "meeting of the Michael Schwartz fan club." And judging by the applause Schwartz received after he answered almost every question, this was a crowd of devotees.
The first section of the Q & A was an interview between Tanayschuk and Schwartz, who addressed some of the same questions from his recent Sun-Sentinel interview with Tanayschuk. As far as being a culinary innovator, Schwartz said, "Jose Andres is a culinary innovator... I'm a good shopper."
The most important thing for Schwartz is ingredients: "A lot of what I say and think is inspired by Alice Waters. She always talked about spending money on locally sourced produce and buying shoes at Payless...It can be more expensive to buy local produce, but I've found that if something is seasonal and it's abundant, it's usually more affordable"
Schwartz talked about one of his efforts to make local and seasonal food more accessible: helping start the Roots in the City market in Overtown with his friend, Michael Nischan. "It's a lot better to buy locally, but it's still difficult. Part of my job is to bridge the gap between farmers and people who want to buy their food."
As far as other chefs including more local food on their menus, Schwartz said, "We're a pain in the ass...we're always nagging chef friends to go out and support local agriculture. Some do. Some don't. Chefs are really busy. Some don't get a chance to leave their kitchen much. It's not easy. Some people walk the walk, but everyone likes to talk the talk."
|Pickled onions by Debra Scholl|
Schwartz did get some difficult questions from the audience, which he answered with aplomb. One man said indignantly, "I enjoy your fettuccine carbonara and I like the poached egg that you serve on top. But why on earth would you use bacon in fettuccine carbonara instead of pancetta?" Schwartz reiterated the question: "In case you guys didn't hear, he wants to know why I bastardized the recipe...what I encourage you to do is to make your own bacon. I include a recipe in the book. It's not hard I encourage you to make your own bacon instead of buying fancy imported pancetta from Italy."
|Grouper ceviche with mango, citrus and cilantro by BLT Steak's Sam Gorenstein|
|Greens from Paradise Farms|
It was a good time. I stayed up late Saturday night, eagerly paging through all of Michael's Genuine Food, feeling a growing pride (and an increasing appetite). The new cookbook and Saturday's event reminded me of how far the food scene in Miami has come in the past five years.
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