Ruth Reichl on Tasting Menus, Women in the Kitchen

Categories: Interview

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Reichl
Former New York Times restaurant critic and Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl says although there's yet to be a female Daniel Boulud, there are more women than ever in kitchens.

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Zak Stern: The Bread Winner

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Stian Roenning
Zak Stern is trying to figure out how not to let his runaway success get too far ahead of him.
In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

Three years ago, life was much simpler for Zak Stern. The bearded wunderkind baker did all of his work in a small oven in his garage before eventually moving into a compact Hialeah workspace. Each day as the sun crested the horizon, a few dozen loaves finished developing a deep-auburn crust, and soon the precious packages were en route to a farmers' market.

These days, Stern -- AKA Zak the Baker -- still preps his bread before daybreak, but as he chats at one of the small tables in his namesake whitewashed Wynwood bakery/café, he's accosted by well-wishers and handshakes. An employee whispers in his ear about a restaurant on the phone that wants bread for a recipe it's testing. A boisterous line for avocado toasts and little glass jars of smoked whitefish stretches to the door.

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Panther's Joel and Leticia Pollock on Changing Local Coffee Culture: "There Aren't Baristas Falling Off Trees in Miami"

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Stian Roenning
Joel and Leticia Pollock: Caffeinated couple.
What began in a hip little shop in a once-blighted neighborhood has morphed into a drink that discerning diners seek in restaurants across Miami. First brewed in 2011, Panther Coffee has become required drinking for owners who aspire to greatness.

Sure, places might buy produce from Homestead and pork links from Miami Shores' Proper Sausages, but if the beans don't come from the Wynwood miracle, your place is unlikely to make the cut.

Panther owners Joel and Leticia Pollock have undertaken a Herculean effort to reform Miami, long a town solely of Starbucks and café con leche. Nothing is wrong with that more common stuff, but the Pollocks have built their business from nothing. They had to train locals before they could usher in a wave of change.

See also: Panther Coffee Opening in Coconut Grove

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At Blue Collar and Mignonette, Danny Serfer Serves Comfort With Style

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Seth Dixon
Danny Serfer: Comfortably stylish.
When Danny Serfer opened Blue Collar at the beginning of 2012, the chef/restaurateur had humble aspirations for the small restaurant on Miami's Upper Eastside. "I just wanted a job. I came back down here from New York and no one would hire me."

Instead of pounding the pavement, Serfer took a ballsier route and opened a restaurant that specialized in comfort food during a time when many Miami restaurants were trying to outdo one another with in-house DJs and molecular gastronomy.

See also: Danny Serfer's Mignonette Is Edgewater's Pearl

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Michael Mina on Chefs Needing Social Skills, Miami's Strip Steak

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Brandon David Demonbreun
Michael Mina: Strip star.
Pretend for a moment you're chef de cuisine at one of Michael Mina's 22 restaurants and want to add something to the menu. You must first face the "Recipe Exchange."

You conceptualize, execute, and sell the dish as a special for three days. Still like it? Good. Next, you upload a picture of it, the recipe (with measurements in grams), and its financial performance to the Mina Group's internal network, which is already abuzz with more than 32,000 recipes and 3,000 videos.

Then Mina, an Egyptian-born chef who built a culinary empire with partner and once-mulleted tennis legend Andre Agassi, sends his endorsement or changes. You have one week to produce an instructional video that the chef or any of his lieutenants can follow. It's then analyzed, scrutinized, tasted, and tinkered with until Mina and his most trusted advisers give it a nod or the ax.

See also: Michael Mina 74: Like You're at the Club, But With Really Fancy Food

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A Hilarious and Depraved Interview With Comedian Ralphie May

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Robert Sebree
Ralphie May is a sexy man!
Ralphie May is a funny bastard. He is astute, witty, and debauched. Just the sound of his Southern twang makes audiences smile. This former drug-dealer-turned-gourmet-chef-turned comedian will be in town performing at Magic City Casino Saturday, September 13.

New Times: I consider plumpish people, especially the affluent ones, as sort of food connoisseurs, akin to porn stars being sex experts. Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Ralphie May: Ya, I was a chef before making it in stand-up comedy. I cooked in the Four Seasons in Houston and then NOLA's, Emeril Lagasse's restaurant [in New Orleans]. I made different types of sauces that blew people away and got accredited.


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"Tea Is Hot:" Tracy Stern Talks Iced Tea at Christofle in Bal Harbour

Categories: Interview

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Photos by Carina Ost
Iced Tea Temptress.
"Tea is hot! Sorry, I had to," jokes Tracy Stern when asked about the current trend. Thursday, the woman behind Tracy Stern Tea & Co. Iced Teas and author of Tea Party set up shop at Christofle in Bal Harbour for the one-night-only event the Art of Entertaining With Tea. The French store that specializes in fine silver, from flatware to picture frames and other home accessories, is all about the art of the table. Justin Trabert, the national brand ambassador and store manager for Christofle, said he wanted to bring back a time when etiquette was about the host making everyone feel comfortable, not the scary word that intimidates guests.

Stern has the same mission and wants to restore some of the elegance of tea. She even designed her signature caddy tins with an old charm, but without the lock and key, so they are accessible to everyone.

See also: How to Stop Holding Your Utensils Like Weapons: We Talk to an Etiquette Expert

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How Tea Can Change Your Life, According to Master Tsai of Coconut Grove's Zen Village

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All photos by Hannah Sentenac
Believe it or not, there's more to tea than Oprah's Starbucks Teavana line. Tea's healing history dates back a whopping 5,000 years, and ancient wisdom suggests its influence can be life-altering.

This potential impact on our modern lives is what Master Tsai, of Coconut Grove's Zen Village, is looking to share with over-stressed, over-burdened Miamians.

The cozy, interfaith community center has a tea room, where Tsai leads tea ceremonies, pours steaming cups of aged blends and schools folks on proper teaware.

See also: Ticety Iced Tea Bar Coming to Coral Gables

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Rolando Aedo Talks Miami Spice: "The More People Celebrating Food in Miami, the Better"

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Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
Rolando Aedo give us the scoop on Spice.
Miami Spice, the two-month promotion that offers value-priced meals at 174 Miami-area restaurants, is in full swing.

Sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the promotion continues throughout August and September and offers diners a three-course lunch for $23 and dinner for $39 at both independent restaurants and upscale dining establishments.

But how do restaurants participate in Spice, and what's the ultimate goal of the program? We spoke with Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing and tourism at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, for an inside look at Miami Spice.

See also: The Great of Miami Spice 2014, Part Two

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The Inside Track on Wynwood's Concrete Beach Brewery

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All photos by Doug Fairall
Head brewer John Carpenter (left) and Alan Newman (right).
Miami's latest about-to-open brewery, Concrete Beach Brewery, is finally closer to opening after some delays. Short Order was invited for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the construction underway in Wynwood, and a chat with president and craft veteran Alan Newman.

We meet under the slim shade outside Panther Coffee in Wynwood, the bustling and cacophonous interior forcing us into the warm summer sunshine. Newman has the air of an artisan, complete with funky circular yellow-rimmed glasses. Over some iced coffee, talk begins to focus on why he's in Miami, and what this brewery operation means for the community at large.

See also: South Florida Brew Bus Delivers South Florida's Craft Beer Craze

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