Chefs may be the most adventurous eaters, yet their palates are the most discerning—and their expectations for a meal the most difficult to meet. When they dine out, pressure is on that kitchen to perform. Of course, there’s no greater reward for a chef than having an esteemed peer become a repeat customer. In order to impress the Miami’s celebrity chefs—as competition as well as admirer— restaurateurs will take advantage of ingredients sourced from nearby farms, or instead act globally, importing exotic fish from Japan daily. Whether it’s an upscale bistro or a casual neighborhood standby, chefs are looking to be wowed by flavor and technique. Guided by highly trained tongues and an eye for presentation, these culinary masters can quickly detect off-kilter skills in the kitchen, or sub-par produce. And since every great chef knows they are only as good as their last meal, the best gauge their own merits by the few unanimous superstars among them. For the top dishes in town, trail local tastemakers to these Miami masters.
Chef Kevin Cory ‘s eight-seat sushi haven has received rave reviews from award-winning chefs and the sternest critics. As the proclaimed toughest seats to snag in town, reservations must be made months in advance. Chefs, including local hero Michael Schwartz, come for Cory’s family-brewed sake and 200-year-old soy sauce recipe.
Joe’s Stone Crab
When Joe’s opens its door in October for stone crab season, it’s a near-holy event. For six months, celebrities and chefs flock to the Magic City for Joe’s crustacean feast that starts with claws and continues with a fried chicken that professional foodie Lee Schrager dubs the best in the nation. As the man behind the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and the book on fried chicken, Fried & True, his word is gospel.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
If celebrity chefs are in town for only one night, they’re eating at Michael’s Genuine. You’ll likely find them breaking the double yolk farm egg that Schwartz roasts in a wood burning oven with aged Gruyere, or taking great spoonfuls of the local stracciatella. Masters of the trade also come for tarts, streusels, and a signed baking bible by Schwartz’s pastry chef, James Beard-nominated Hedy Goldsmith.
What do you get when three guys are united by a passion for pork? The culinary love story of the Pubbelly boys and Miami’s first Asian-inspired gastropub. During South Beach Wine & Food Festival, visiting chefs sneak off for a bite from the Pubbelly’s daily menu. Plates range from shortrib tartare with a bite-size quail egg to pork cheeks on black truffle gnudi.
Chef Makoto Okuwa has been rolling sushi since the age of 15. After serving as Iron Chef Morimoto’s Head Sushi Chef (New York; Philadelphia) and Sous Chef on Iron Chef America, Makoto finally opened his own outpost in 2011. Top toques flock to this lacquered sushi shrine for fried rice with frozen Kobe beef and optional foie gras, and lobster maki with ginger pickled jicama.