Swine Southern Table & Bar: Kenny Gilbert Spills the Beans on the Pork

Categories: Chef Interviews
Chef Kennyy Gilbert spills the beans on Swine.
When 50 Eggs Restaurant Group announced they would be opening Swine Southern Table and Bar in Coral Gables, we were excited to learn that Yardbird would have a pork-centric "sister", with Top Chef Kenny Gilbert creating the menu.

We spoke with chef Gilbert, who clearly has a thing for barbeque. Gilbert told Short Order that he started barbecuing with his dad at the tender age of seven and hasn't stopped since.

Gilbert, who's title is corporate chef at 50 Eggs Restaurant Group, received a call from Yardbird's executive chef Jeff McInnis, who was looking for support for his restaurant. The two chefs knew each other both from Top Chef and from both working under the Ritz-Carlton umbrella -- McInnis at the Dilido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, and Gilbert at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and Spa in Jupiter.

At the time, Gilbert was executive chef/partner at Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach. Gilbert came down to Miami to check out Yardbird and liked what he saw. "I was blown away with the concept and the management. It also made sense based on my career path to come down. It was just a great opportunity."

Gilbert is in charge of the menu development at Swine, where he is currently meeting with farmers to find the best heritage pigs that can be delivered on a consistent basis. "I just got in about 1,000 pounds of pork last week," the chef said. "I'm playing around with different concepts. What am I going to do with the jowls, the tails? What kind of sausage can I make?"

So far, Gilbert says he's written about 20 menu drafts for Swine, working with different combinations of entrees, shared plates, and appetizers to make a well-balanced menu that's centered around pork, but still has enough beef, seafood, and even vegetarian options to please a number of diners.

The menu will feature an extended charcuterie and cheese selection steeped in Southern roots like Tasso ham and Andouille sausage. In a nod to the restaurant's Miami location, Gilbert will also incorporate some traditional Latin and Floribbean influences into some dishes like smoked pork jowl with black bean mole, fried plantains, and a Key lime vinaigrette. "It's a sexy plate. Refined, substantial -- but still casual."

Swine will also feature various woods for their smoker and grill, using combinations of mesquite, pecan, cherry, hickory, and apple wood, with a featured wood of the day listed on the restaurant's chalkboard. Gilbert also plans on dehydrating his own spices for his mat rubs. "My goal is to be able to bring in our own ancho chile peppers, smoke them dry and grind them in-house. At Cochon 555, I made my own dehydrated black bean spice rub. I'd like to do the same at Swine."

As with Yardbird, Swine will feature a large bourbon selection, as well as wines to be paired with each heritage of pig based on their shared origins. For instance, Iberian pigs could be paired with a nice Rioja -- sort of a swine and wine program. "At brunch last week, I probably drank ten different cocktails that could go with the menu," Gilbert said.

Swine Southern Table and Bar is set to open the end of October, 2012.

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Location Info

Swine Southern Table & Bar

2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Restaurant

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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