Michelle Bernstein - restaurateur, James Beard Award-winning chef, philanthropist, and, by nature, all-around kick-ass female, is taking a new approach, through social, to broaden her restaurant clientele. Because we’re huge advocates of all things Social Chef, we couldn’t pass this one up.
All Across the Board
Miami’s dining scene is certainly an emerging one. Amidst the overpriced touristy spots lining Ocean Drive, which are usually known for their huge Spring Break-esque drinks, sticky tabletops, and overpriced, mediocre fare (we’re going to play nice) spelled out by in-your-face hostesses lining the sidewalk, there are hidden gems. And, while far and few, some not so “hidden” gems that certainly live up to their solid reputation (make sure to check out August’s Miami Foodable Top 25 to get the full scoop on which restaurants consumers are loving most on social right now).
A few years ago, restaurant pop ups started, well, popping up on the South Florida dining scene - both Eating House and The Federal began serving up edgy innovations pop-up style - to experiment with dishes, build up a clientele and raise funds without investors. The end goal is usually, of course, to open a place independently.
Then there are chefs who’ve been around - and successful - for years on this turf, like Michelle Bernstein, who very recently decided to team up with Gilt City to offer a $150 ticket, good for “a five-course tasting menu created (and plated) by one of Miami’s favorite chefs” (ahem, that would be Bernstein) as part of a “pop-up dining experience at Crumb on Parchment,” one of Bernstein’s establishments, located in the up-and-coming Design District, that usually caters to the breakfast/lunch crowd during the work week.
The Full Lineup
The dinner includes wine pairings with each of the five courses, a take-home assortment of baked goods (Crumb on Parchment is, after all, a bakery/cafe on normal occasion), and explanations of each dish by the Chef. The first course consists of caramelized carrots and pomegranates with pomegranate vinaigrette, sumac, yogurt Espuma and tarragon flowers. Second course is a slow poached egg with green chorizo and clams. Next on the line up is Fresh Cod in a tomato-shellfish broth with charred baby onions and citrus aioli. Still hungry? Good, because four story veal tenderloin with caramelized parsnips, baby turnips, marrow and salsa verde are coming your way. For dessert, guests get to devour strawberry and mixed orange mille-feuille with Pedro Jimenez and marcona almonds. Is your mouth watering yet?
Keeping it Sweet and Social
Bernstein has a knack for utilizing Twitter as a daily menu of Crumb’s offerings, topped with a hearty serving of food porn (we dare you to click) for every sweet tooth, so the decision to go the pop-up dinner route via a more upscale deal site like Gilt City isn’t exactly a shocker. But it does tune us in to how chefs can further utilize their social resources to grow a larger fan base - not just online, but in real life. By offering a less-expensive-than-usual five-course tasting/pairing menu, Bernstein is putting herself in a position to not only gain new customers, but also show off her best work in an intimate environment, while also breathing new life into Crumb on Parchment, a 3-year-old, yet somewhat hidden venue to those who aren’t already aware of its presence. Or perhaps it's an attempt to build up Crumb's "nighttime crowd" if the plan to reopen its South Beach location for "exclusively nighttime oriented food & beverage experiences" is still up for discussion amongst the Bernstein-Martinez business partnership. Either way, it’s a win-win (-win-win?). Over time, chefs will begin - and keep having - to establish themselves even further with new and revolutionary social tactics as technology advances. There’s no doubt about that.
We want to know from you, the readers: Do you think offering pop-up dinners on a deal site like Gilt City cheapens a brand or is a good tool to breathe new life into a new or existing concept? Let us know in the comments below!