Farm to Fork with chef Michael Schwartz
Sunday brunch curated by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz reveling in South Florida’s culinary bounty in a celebration of farm-to-table sustainability, paired with exciting wines and a lively auction.
CHEF MICHAEL SCHWARTZ
James Beard Award-winning chef-restaurateur Michael Schwartz’s philosophy is simple: The secret to good food is good food. Beloved by locals and visitors to Miami since 2007, Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink set the bar for neighborhood dining with its menu based on simple preparations of seasonal ingredients and the atmosphere to match.
With a track from hometown Philadelphia spanning NYC to Los Angeles under Wolfgang Puck, Schwartz landed on Miami Beach in the early 1990s turning heads and tables doing seriously good food on not so serious South Beach. Branching out on his own to open Michael’s Genuine in a then forgotten neighborhood on the mainland now known as the Miami Design District, he cementing his reputation for reinventing a fresh approach to food and defining sincere hospitality in Miami.
Schwartz’s The Genuine Hospitality Group currently operates 10 restaurants including five locations of its growing pizzeria brand, Genuine Pizza® and several outlets branching from its fine dining roots at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District. The newest additions to the Genuine portfolio include Amara at Paraiso, the quintessential Miami restaurant with waterfront dining and a fresh approach to bold Latin American and the just-opened Tigertail and Mary, which Schwartz describes as, “the ultimate neighborhood restaurant in Coconut Grove.”
CHEF JUSTIN FLIT
Chef Justin Flit combines the best of classical training and high-profile experience of more than 16 years to create a uniquely South Florida approach to Italian food and seafood. With an early introduction to the culinary scene, Justin was exposed to the ins and outs of a restaurant kitchen at the ripe age of eighteen. Trained at the famed French Culinary Institute in New York City he went on to work with Daniel Boulud and Michael Mina as well as South Florida legends Oliver Saucy and Gabe Fenton.
Always fascinated by traditional Italian cooking, Justin became a local star at his restaurant Proof Miami in Midtown Miami, where his freshly made pastas and classic Neapolitan pizza had critics raving. Proof Miami is now a permanent pop-up inside Taurus Beer & Whiskey House.
Today, Justin is co-owner and executive chef of Navé in Coconut Grove. Navé opened last fall, showcasing Justin’s culinary partnership with chef Michael Beltran of Ariete. In the newly opened restaurant, he continues to offer his signature pasta and pizza dishes with a menu focused on fresh seafood from South Florida waters. Here, Justin has forged relationships with local fishermen as well as local farms for a true farm and sea to table experience.
CHEF NIVEN PATEL
Chef Niven Patel is closely identified with the cooking of Florida, his home state. Knowing what a strong influence he is on Miami’s dining scene, one might forget just how extensive his culinary background is. After culinary school, he worked with chef Dean Max in Fort Lauderdale, then took a six-month sabbatical to travel around Italy seeking inspiration and picking up further culinary skills along the way. It was on that trip his strong identity with farm-to-table cooking was forged.
On his return to the U.S., Patel worked in Baltimore before being recruited as executive chef at Islamorada’s Cheeca Lodge and Spa. He reunited with Dean Max to create a restaurant in the Cayman Islands, where he met Michael Schwartz who talked him in to returning to Miami to be chef de cuisine at Schwartz’s flagship, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. After a stint at Schwartz’s lamentably short-lived Cypress Room, Patel struck out on his own, establishing his own farm in Homestead to supply the produce so central to his cooking style.
Today, Niven Patel has an eclectic portfolio of restaurants, including Ghee that celebrates his Indian heritage and Erba, an Italian-inspired produce-centric restaurant, both in the Dadeland area. Opening just about as you are reading this are more restaurants including Mamey, a gastrobar situated in the new Coral Gables’ THesis Hotel. All of Patel’s restaurants (and his course at our VeritageMiami brunch) focus on the produce he grows at his farm Rancho Patel.