5 Faces of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival

This month brings our favorite food event of the season: South Beach Wine and Food Festival. And we’re calling it now, these five are the ones to watch at the Festival and beyond.

One of Miami’s hottest restaurateurs, Matthew Kuscher is opening another burger spot at the latest food hall, Time Out Market Miami. Pastry queen Hedy Goldsmith is back in town with a new role at Yardbird, and pastry king Ross Evans will surely be on beat with sweets at the Hard Rock’s long-anticipated guitar-shaped hotel. Master mixologist and co-owner of Beaker & Gray Benn Potts has opened his first bar, Boombox. And Alex Kuk is bringing his Asian flair from Fort Lauderdale to Wynwood with a second location of Temple Street Eatery. 2019 … you’re already showing off.

The Chef: Alex Kuk
Co-owner, Temple Street Eatery Fort Lauderdale

The Events:
• Rock ‘n Roll: An Asian Night Market at DUNE at Auberge Beach hosted by Adam Richman, Friday, February 22
• Drag Brunch hosted by Alex Carr and Elvis Duran at Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, Saturday, February 23

Restaurants in South Florida tend to migrate from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. What makes Temple Street Eatery Fort Lauderdale the right concept to expand into Wynwood? We love the 954 and are excited to bring our menu to the 305 and “enlighten” the palates there. With Miamians always on the move, our fast-casual concept will fit right in for those looking for a quick and filling meal with a homemade feel. We have something for everyone, whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian or vegan.

What can Miami patrons expect from this new concept? High-quality homemade dishes full of Asian flavors, and some with a Latin twist. We’re also bringing over some of our fan favorites like the mini beef arepas, spicy miso noodle soup and kimchi quesadilla.

As a fourth-generation South Florida restaurateur, why was it important for you to continue this family tradition? It’s important to be able to provide the quality Asian cuisine/gastronomy that my family has been serving for more than 50 years in South Florida. My great-grandfather started Wan’s Mandarin on SW 8th Street in the ‘70s; since then, we’ve evolved into Christina Wan’s with my aunt Christina and her husband Jason, and we’ve now grown into Temple Street with my business partner Diego Ng, who was born in Venezuela and spent many years in the kitchens of Morimoto, Fontainebleau and Catch Miami.

Anything trending in Asian cuisine? Around the nation, we see that Asian food is becoming more regional, or restaurants are driven by one item. For example, in New York City and Chicago, you have restaurants that specialize in Szechuan or Shanghainese food. You also have restaurants that serve only ramen or dumplings. We feel these trends will eventually make their way to South Florida.

You’re taking part in a first-of-its-kind SOBEWFF event, a drag-show brunch in Fort Lauderdale. Tell us about the event and why you chose to participate. We’re so proud to be part of this inaugural event. We are based in Fort Lauderdale and we celebrate the collaboration with the team that brings PRIDE to the city each year. We were the first ramen/dumpling shop in Fort Lauderdale, so it seems fitting to join the pioneers to bring this Drag Brunch to life in our own backyard.

What are your favorite events and after-parties at SOBEWFF? We love working with the culinary demo team at the Grand Tasting Village chef demo stages. There’s also a special place in our hearts for the Lucky Chopsticks event, which has morphed into the Rock ‘n Roll event. Of course we love to stop by the FIU booth at Grand Tasting to say hello to familiar faces and to meet the future of our hospitality industry.


The Restaurateur: Matthew Kuscher
Kush Group

The Event: Heineken Light Burger Bash, Friday, February 22

Why did you decide to open the second location of your award-winning Kush by LoKal in the new Time Out Market in Miami? Time Out opened its first food hall in Portugal and is one of the top food markets in the world. The group approached me, and just the thought of being part of a world- expanding concept excited me. Their second location being in South Beach, with people visiting from all over the world and trying our menu, is a win-win in my eyes. We’re still working on our final menu, but you can expect our award-winning Chicken n Waffles, our freshly ground in-house burgers and our always-famous Alligator Scraps.

What other new concepts are coming soon? In early 2019, we are reopening the oldest Jewish deli in Florida called Stephen’s Delicatessen. The restaurant was founded and has been running since 1954, with our highlight employee being Junior. He has been hand-slicing pastrami and corned beef for our amazing deli sandwiches since 1957 and is currently working at Kush until we’re finished with our renovations and ready to reopen. In addition, we’re opening a bar that highlights the pride and beauty of Hialeah. We believe this will be a game-changer for the neighborhood in which both are opening, in the Leah Arts District.

You’ll be competing at Burger Bash. In your opinion, what makes a good (and winning) burger? A good burger is exactly what we do—well, let me rephrase that: a great burger is what we do. We grind our beef fresh in-house every day, season with our special blend, cook to perfection with love, and you’ve got a delicious Kush Hospitality burger.

Where do you hang during/after the Festival? Over the last few years I always end up at Michael Schwartz’s house for his after-party. He is such a generous and amazing host, and of course, his food is top-notch!


The Pastry Chef: Hedy Goldsmith
Corporate Executive Pastry Chef, Yardbird Group

The Events:
• Cobaya Dinner at The Forge hosted by Michelle Bernstein, Angie Mar and David Plonowski, Thursday, February 21
• Sweets & Beats, Saturday, February 23

You’ve recently returned to Miami from L.A. Tell us about your new role as Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for Yardbird Group. Since returning to Miami, I’ve been focused on refreshing the existing dessert menus at the various Yardbird locations. Yardbird Miami currently has amazing dessert staples like their Fried Oreos and Bacon Butterscotch Cake. I got to help open the LA location and do their desserts and pastry menus, now I am back in Miami working with the corporate team on menu development from Coconut Cake to puffy Funfetti Pancakes. Tasty new additions are coming soon, so stay tuned.

You took a hiatus from restaurants. Has your culinary style changed since then? I took some time off when I moved to LA to focus on myself and enjoying life. I learned how to surf but sadly, I am not very good in the water. What I will say is that I am much better in the kitchen. Ultimately, I longed to be part of a restaurant family again. I helped opened our LA Yardbird and fell back in love with my craft. I guess I needed to move 3,000 miles from home to reconnect with an old friend, John Kunkel. My style remains passionate and flavor-focused but with a better understanding of more health-conscious items.

What’s next for you? Are there new concepts coming from 50 Eggs Inc.?
We are working on a new concept called Ad Lib that is opening in Coral Gables. Ad Lib is going to be unlike any restaurant that 50 Eggs has done before—an approachable fine dining restaurant with à la carte and tasting menus, an amazing bar program and, of course, the best dessert program ever.

You’re co-hosting the new Cobaya dinner during the festival with a dream team of chefs at The Forge. What are you planning for that night? The Forge is quintessential Miami Beach, and being back here for The Cobaya Dinner with this team of chefs is a dream come true. Collaborating is what we chefs do best. With each course, we build on the dishes that preceded our dish, for the ultimate collaboration. I don’t want to spill the beans, but I will say the dessert will have a strong strawberry focus.


The Mixologist: Ben Potts
Co-owner/Bar Manager, Beaker & Gray, Miami

The Event: Art of Tiki Cocktail Showdown, Friday, February 22

What does it take to constantly evolve in the cocktail world? I’m always learning from my peers, both locally and internationally, as well as drawing from experiences outside of the bar world. I think it’s important to realize that the people who drink cocktails are seldom people who make cocktails for a living. To me, evolving isn’t just coming up with what I, or the industry, thinks is the most cutting-edge idea, but more importantly how I can appeal to and interest my guests more effectively.

You recently opened your own bar, Boombox, in Midtown. What has the experience been like? Being able to create something from almost nothing with a great team behind me is an amazing feeling. Boombox is a place to drink, party and everything in between. The drinks are an homage to those terribly amazing cocktails from the ‘80s and ‘90s when sour mix was king—some of those cocktails were amazing ideas and deserve a chance with fresh ingredients and more interesting modifiers.

What can festival goers expect from you at Art of Tiki? A lot of fun, a lot of sugar, but not as much open flame as one might think.

Where will you be drinking during SOBEWFF? When I’m not at the Grand Tasting tents, I’ll probably be drinking at some of my favorite bars near the events like Sweet Liberty, The Jim & Neesie at Generator, and Broken Shaker for some after-parties.

What’s trending in cocktails around the country? I’m seeing more and more alternative fermented products like tepache, kombucha and even kimchi. I’m also seeing a sort of back-to-basics movement, which I like, as well as batched bottle programs where the entire cocktail (sans perishable ingredients) is measured to the gram in large quantities ensuring an extremely consistent product.

What’s your go-to libation right now? Always a fan of a twist on a Boulevardier (whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth), but if I’m going the distance, it’s always a gin and soda with a splash of lime.


The Pastry Chef: Ross Evans
Executive Pastry Chef, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

The Events:
• Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best, Friday, February 22
• Sweets & Beats, Saturday, February 23

With such a broad audience at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, how do you balance between the whimsical and offering guests something they’ll recognize? One of the greatest things about Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is how diverse our culinary program is. The property offers multiple outlets and style of cuisines, ranging from casual restaurants to fine dining. Constant Grind allows us to focus on a seasonal pastry program in retail format, giving all guests something they can relate to; then there is Kuro, a very technical and diverse Japanese program that is based a lot on the textures and deep flavor profiles that Japanese cuisine is known for. And there are many great things to come.

In the pastry world, how do you keep things interesting and different? And do you think of “Instagram-moments” when creating a dessert? We really try to keep a focus on the desserts we are creating and making sure that the guest experience is as good as it gets. I do try to find ways to let our social media gathering see what happens behind the scenes and what goes into the creations that are available around the property. Even sneak peeks of new items that may be available soon to tease the guests’ palate.

What’s trending right now in pastry? Geometric patterns and shapes. A lot of effort is going into molding desserts lately and it really lets artists add another dimension to the plate and gives guests something they haven’t seen before.

How will you make your sweets stand out at the two events you’re participating in at SBWFF? Our roots have always been flavor- and texture-focused. We try to create desserts with a different dimension and something that is not found everywhere in South Florida. We do like to add edible decorations to displays at the events, but it will have to be a secret as to what exactly that is.

What’s your personal favorite dessert? I really like pecan-influenced desserts. Every time I indulge in one it brings back childhood memories that may have been lost elsewhere.





Facebook Comments