Interview with Chef, Restaurateur and Author Michael Schwartz, Part I

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In 2007 Michael Schwartz opened Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami's Design District. Almost immediately it became "the" place to go for good, clean food that was friendly to the environment and the community. in 2009, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink opened a second location in Grand Cayman, while the original location remains one of the most popular restaurants in Miami. Michael Schwartz is sharing some of his amazing recipes in his first book, Michael's Genuine Food, scheduled to be released February 15th. Michael shared his passion for food with Clean Plate Charlie.

Clean Plate Charlie: How did you become a chef? 

Michael Schwartz: I started working at my first restaurant when I was 15. I started as a busboy and migrated into the kitchen and I knew that's what I wanted to do.

Last May you won the James Beard Award for the South, beating out some heavy hitters, including some restaurants in New Orleans, a city with a rich history in food. What was that like?

That was amazing. That was the pinnacle right there. It was super exciting. It's a good category. it's an interesting category.

How do you feel about food in Miami?

Food in Miami in general is good and getting better all the time. I think the farmers are doing a better job, people are making things and growing things more. Miami has grown up - it's more self confident and its less about trying to impress people.

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink was opened in 2007. What made you open in the Design District instead of Miami Beach or Coral Gables? I mean The Design District was still in the fledgling stages then.

I felt like proximity-wide the Design District is an extension of the beach. I kind of like the vibe here and the streets were all new and the fancy galleries were beautiful and I thought this was the place to be.

I hear you're working with a local food truck for one night, Feb 12th. Will you be doing more of this or opening up your own food truck?

Michael's is taking over the Burger Beastmobile food truck for one night, in correlation with Gallery Walk, which is the second Saturday of each month.We'll be out selling books and seeing people and having fun.

What do you think of the food truck movement?

I think it's great. It's exciting, interesting and fun. From my perspective, II wouldn't want to run it as a business s but people are excited and that's great. No, we're not going to do our own, buy every once in a while it's fun to do.

You have several programs going on that help the local Miami community - can you tell us about that?

Well one is the Roots in the City Farmers Market. We partnered with Wholesome Way and set up a farmers market in Overtown. The community gets access to fruits and vegetables. It's open to the public. Wednesdays and Fridays, Wednesdays is the main day. We also adopted The Phyllis Wheatley School. We work with the kids to plant a garden and held a recipe contest. There's a bunch of other chefs, as well, including Michelle Bernstein and we're taking turns to make little positive changes slowly in the school system.

Stay tuned for part II of our interview with Michael Schwartz. 


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