Fired Up!

The culinary scene in Miami is drastically evolving into a sophisticated, no-nonsense world ruled by savvy connoisseurs ready to challenge anything — and anyone — who tries to pass off quantity for quality.
Text by David C. Cleland | June 8, 2018 | Lifestyle

There are many things that make our grand city a place of luxury — from the fancy cars, megayachts and exclusive clubs to the beautiful mansions, expansive beaches and A-list neighbors. But unless you’re watching a car commercial, no one ever says, “You are what you drive.” In Miami, we’re luxurious, at least we aspire to be, and increasingly the saying “You are what you eat” is ringing truer than ever…and where we eat is just as important.
Of course, what’s considered luxury has certainly changed in Miami over the last 10 years as a result of everything from the economic downturn to changing palates. What was considered top-of-the-line a decade ago is almost taboo in our city today. Back then, haute cuisine consisted of an overpriced steak that took up the entire plate and a couple of stonecrab claws thrown on top for good measure. Unless it was oversized, unnecessary, and overpriced, it wasn’t luxury. Excess and gluttony, favorite pastimes of Miamians, have (thankfully) taken a backseat to a new standard.
In Miami we have our hometown favorites — Schwartz, Rodriguez, Bernstein — who are amazing in their own rights, but over the years we’ve had an onslaught of big-name chefs making their way down the coast to our city and failing, miserably. What’s more, in the last few years this has started to change, thanks to some of the best chefs flocking to The Magic City and opening up shop with the hopes of (fingers crossed) staying open. These chefs have joined forces with not only our hometown favorites, but also with young and exciting new talent to totally change the food scene in our town. From Jose Andres, Daniel Boulud and Norman Van Aken to the visionaries at Pubbelly and 50 Eggs, our dining experience in Miami has been elevated to a new level of sophistication and class.
What these chefs have done is to finally put Miami on par with other major cities. With this evolution comes a certain amount of responsibility, both for consumers and for the restaurants. Now that the economy is slowly starting to turn around, it would be all too easy to return to our roots of overindulgence and water down this new milestone we’ve reached.
In the end, the chefs in our city need to stick to their guns and not give in to quick money-making fads and trends. The consumer’s job is much the same…to realize that the most expensive restaurant or the newest in-thing might not be the best. It’s also important to appreciate all the talent in town — from new additions to old favorites and up-and-coming buzz makers.
As a city, we have an amazing chance to grow culinarily so let’s take advantage of it. Although what we consider to be luxury in Miami seems to have changed very rapidly, when it boils down to it, it hasn’t changed all that much. Best of all, our taste has improved to the point where we’re only willing to pay for the best if it is the best.