Authentic Creole flavors smoked through flawless blue skies as intoxicating jazz accompanied us on our culinary journey of New Orleans. Any exhaustion we had from karaoke at The World Famous Cats Meow just a few hours earlier was quickly forgotten once we arrived at FoodFest. After devouring crawfish and catfish in multiple preparations, and reticently tasting alligator, we sucked down oysters and savored beignets. By late afternoon our foodie crew was in a food coma, toasted from the sun and oversized bloody marys. All the nostalgic stories I had heard of NOLA had come to life. The day couldn’t get any better.
And then we had family dinner at Mopho, where proud local Michael Gulotta elevates indigenous flavor to insurmountable heights. A dear friend of Steelite, this Best New Chef presents approachable cuisine bursting with flavor on quality English dinnerware. The restaurant is welcoming, the concept is ingenious, and the meal is worth more than its own column in TFS!
Before leaving town, I joined colleagues at Shaya foreven more gastronomic genius. I had met Chef Alon a few months earlier at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, unaware of his resume or influence in the culinary community. His tranquil courtyard instantly transports you to Israel and his cuisine bursts with authenticity and history on Dudson Evolution dinnerware.
An unspoken rule amongst New Yorkers is that you cannot call yourself a local until you have lived here for a decade. Looking down the barrel of my tenth year in the city has certainly triggered the consideration that I may in fact not be a true evangelist of the big apple.
I am completely satisfied with that. We must loosen our grip on the places we come from in order to find the places we are going. Don’t get me wrong, my confidence often stems from knowing that once “I’ve made it here, I can make it anywhere.” And returning to NYC for a few days to take a meeting at Per Se or dine at the Ai Fiori bar before Chef PJ Calapa departs the celebrated property still feels more like home than seat 4F or Room 502. However, having the big apple as my hometown also fuels my passion to make it everywhere else.
I spent the latter part of the month in Miami, focusing on building our Miramar office’s distribution business and celebrating the latest class of Star Chef’s Rising Stars. Many would already consider Chef Brad Kilgore a superstar because dining at Alter makes you excited about the future of food. His small garden adjacent to the space is a work in progress, his presentation is award winning, and his pastry chef wife Soraya inspires and compliments his cuisine.
In between sales calls and Wynwood Wall’s selfies, I also toured Front of the House’s impressive new showroom in South Florida’s up and coming MiMo district. In just fifteen years, these entrepreneurial designers have turned their company into an industry leader. Our strongest porcelain partner is ready to make a big statement at NRA. Will I see you in Chicago in a few weeks to admire amazing new lines from FOH and Steelite and enjoy food from the latest rising stars?
Don’t drag your feet. As the late, great Merle Haggard said, “by the time you get close to the answers, it’s nearly all over.”