Whether You’re a Foodie or an Aspiring Chef, These Are the Miami Food Halls You Don’t Want to Miss

In the past few of years, there has been a powerful surge of food hall concepts popping up across the country and in late 2017 the wave finally arrived in Miami, Florida. Since then, many food hall concepts have been opening in the area especially in the first half of this year.

On this episode of On Foodable Side Dish, we meet three food hall operations featuring three very different concepts. First, we get the chance to meet Alex Cuevas, founder of Vshops—the world’s first 100 percent vegan food hall. Then, we sit down with Ruben Paredes, the Director of Operations of Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky—serving up Asian cuisine. Finally, we get to hear from Kenzie Motai, Assistant General Manager of St. Roche Market, Miami —a contemporary food hall serving as a platform for up and coming chefs.

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Alex Cuevas, Founder and CEO of Vshops is a former senior technology executive who gave up his prominent tech career in New York to pursue his true passion for sustainable food, health, and animal welfare. At 10 years old, Cuevas had decided to go vegan after he found out how animals were being treated in factory farms.

“...the way the animals were treated and then the way they were “dispatched” or put down, it was incredibly disturbing to me,” said Cuevas. “... and when I realized that my favorite foods were tied to the suffering I said I don’t want anything to do with it at all.”

Cuevas decided to open up his first Miami vegan concept, Choices Cafe, in 2011 after a frustrating trip to South Florida, where he had a hard time finding a place to eat that would cater to the vegan lifestyle he was accustomed to. Now with the Vshops food hall, Cuevas not only aims to cater to vegans, but his hope is to really impress non-vegans in order to inspire consciousness.

Check out the episode above to learn about all the different vegan concepts that reside within the Vshops food hall located in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove!

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Ruben Paredes takes time out of his day to break down for us all of the concepts within Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky. Paredes, who was recruited by Sven Vogtland (one of the people behind Wynwood’s Coyo Taco), has been working in the hospitality/restaurant industry for two decades, but this is the first time he has dedicated himself to working for a concept like this one.

“I personally think that after all my years in this industry… for me, this format is the best,” said Paredes. In his words, 1-800-Lucky is a concept that provides a combination of “great food, great offerings... it’s simple, casual, it’s fast.”

Whatever Asian culinary craving a person may have, 1-800-Lucky is bound to have it for its guests. The Asian food hall provides Chinese barbecue (Lotus + Cleaver), dim sum (YIP), Vietnamese sandwiches (Les Banh Amis), traditional ramen (Hayato Miami), poke (PokeOG), ice cream (Taiyaki), and handmade sushi rolls (Myumi). It’s important to note that each food stand derives from a larger restaurant brand from across the globe.

Check out the episode above to see the food and drinks being featured at 1-800-Lucky!

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St. Roch Market

Kenzie Motai, who joined the St. Roch family in December of 2017, sat down with us to explain the concept of this food hall hailing all the way from New Orleans. St. Roch Market first opened in Miami in late February of this year and it boasts 11 unique food vendors while providing 1 central bar for its guests.

“Each vendor is a small business owner and entrepreneur,” says Motai. “We’re kind of the place you come to, to see the next up-and-coming chef in Miami before they blow up and open their own restaurant.”

As Motai explains, St. Roch Market is a historic market from New Orleans that has been around since 1875. It was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina to be made into a food hall and now serves as a great platform for chefs to start their business.

Check out the episode above to hear about the experience from a chef working at St. Roch Market food hall!

If you’d like to learn more about other concepts by Sven Vogtland, like Wynwood’s Coyo Taco, check out the video below!

General Mills Invests Millions in the Vegan Company Kite Hill

The consumer foods company General Mills is making moves to get into the vegan food market.

General Mills has invested millions into the Kite Hill, a vegan brand known for its plant-based cheese and yogurt. Led by 301 Inc., General Mills' venture capital firm, the vegan company has secured $40 million in funding.

“Kite Hill continues to set itself apart in what is now a mainstream demand for plant-based nutrition," said John Haugen, founder and managing director of 301 Inc. “As more people are making changes in their diet, we see incredible untapped potential in the market for the brand to expand its consumer base and grow.”

The vegan trend continues to spread across the country as more eaters change their lifestyle whether they are vegans, vegetarians or flexitarians. This has cultivated a high-demand for these types of products.

Kite Hill's dairy-free products like its cream cheese, cheese, and almond milk yogurts have become popular.

The company's plant-based products are already in grocery chains like Target, Whole Foods, and Sprouts– but with this additional funding, the company plans to ramp up its expansion plans.

"This investment propels Kite Hill into a great position to continue our rapid pace of expansion. We are eager to meet the seemingly insatiable consumer demand for our delicious chef-inspired plant-based, vegan foods. As such, we’ll be investing substantially in factory capacity expansion,' said Rob Leibowitz, Kite Hill CEO.

The vegan brand will also use the funding to explore new products to add to its portfolio.

“We will also continue to innovate in product development and marketing to drive further awareness and adoption of our delicious foods which never compromise and always deliver extremely well on both taste and texture," said Leibowitz.

Learn more about Kite Hill's latest funding round at "FoodBev Media" now.

We have been tracking the explosive growth in the plant-based industry. According to Foodable Labs data, plant-based consumption is up 300% over just the last year. Watch the video below to see how restaurants are incorporating more plant-based dishes on menus.

Will this Wheat-Based “Chicken” Nugget Be the Next Impossible Burger?

Veggie burgers like Impossible Foods' Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger are certainly on the rise.

Listen to Beyond Meat’s unique story below.

But are these burgers just the beginning? Will chicken strips and vegan filets be next?

There's so much potential in the market to develop other plant-based products mimicking meat favorites of consumers. These products appeal to the consumer looking to make eco-friendly dining choices.

With that in mind, start-up companies are developing innovative formulas to mimic the texture of real meat. By looking like something familiar, these products are much more approachable.

In 2017, Christie Lagally founded Seattle Food Tech with a goal of expanding plant-based foods like its wheat-based nuggets to the masses at universities and hospitals.

Vegan nuggets

“The philosophy behind our company is that we have to change the food system so that people can make different choices," said Lagally, who also was the Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute.

Seattle Food Tech's plant-based"chicken" nuggets, which are expected to be ready by the end of 2019, are quick to prep and are affordable.

"Our ready-to-eat foods cook just like chicken products, so they can be a fast-serve part of your organization’s busy meal schedule," writes Seattle Food Tech on its website. "Further, we know that sharing food is an important part of community building, so at SFT our products are affordable and made at scale to ensure everyone can enjoy quick, scrumptious, plant-based meals any day of the week."

Do you think consumers are ready for the plant-based nugget? And will it be embraced like the veggie-burger?

Read more about Seattle Food Tech at “Seattle Magazine.”