By Adria Valdes Greenhauff, Editor-at-Large
If you’ve been paying any attention to Miami as of late, then you’ve probably noticed that the city was once known predominately for its beautiful beaches and electric nightclub scene, is quickly solidifying its reputation as a vibrant cultural mecca.
Fortunately for restaurateurs, with great art, theater and cinema, also comes the demand exceptional cuisine. That’s why it comes as no surprise that when Brad Kilgore, Food & Wine Magazine’s 2016 Best New Chef in America, was offered the role of culinary director for the Miami's premier performing arts center, at the peak of his career, he jumped at the opportunity.
Now nearly a year after being handed the reigns, Chef Kilgore has reinvented BRAVA into a culinary experience that prides itself on presenting dishes that are as tasty as they are beautiful, thoughtfully created using high-quality and locally sourced ingredients.
We recently sat down with the 2016 James Beard Award semifinalist to chat about what inspired some of the dishes on BRAVA’s new menu, as well as what he thinks is in store for the future of Miami’s restaurant scene.
Q&A with Brad Kilgore, Culinary Director for Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Foodable: BRAVA By Brad Kilgore is located right in the heart of Miami’s cultural district — literally housed inside the city’s preeminent performing arts center. What about this concept made you excited to take on this opportunity?
BK: Having the opportunity to be the culinary director inside one of the city’s premier operations was a huge compliment. The building is designed around the arts, this was and is very exciting for me, as that’s how I like to approach our dish presentations.
Foodable: For anyone who hasn’t experienced BRAVA in the last year, what new things can be expected?
BK: I took inspiration from the type of shows that are produced in the Adrienne Arsht Center. For example, when you go to see the Nutcracker, it’s not the original version of the play, it’s the Directors’ version of it. So, you will see dishes that read familiar but with a nouveau touch and a clean presentation. We use the term “Classics Redefined,” I take inspiration from classic dishes and reinvent them.
For example, we have a Raviolo with four different types of pasta. We roll it out so the pasta has a plaid pattern. Inside the Raviolo is a veal breast folded with Cave Aged Gruyere Cheese, a sauce of porcini (cepe) and crispy prosciutto and sage, all together this makes a Raviolo “Saltimbocca.”
Foodable: How have you married your own personal style as a chef with the flavors of Miami throughout the menu at BRAVA?
BK: I really enjoy taking flavors from all over the world to create new combinations and experiences. One thing I love about being a chef in Miami is that you can be bold with your flavors like the use of spicy, acid, and spices.
Foodble: Do you have a favorite dish on the menu?
BK: It’s really hard to choose but the Foie Gras Snickers is a really cool dish to share for the table. If you are not into sharing, then don’t miss the Raviolo.
Foodbale: A large portion of our readers at Foodable are culinary execs and restauranteurs. How would you say a restaurant rebranding differs from building something from the ground up?
BK: You have to show respect to any of the previous clientele, and not go into the space with your nose in the air. Learn and get to know the clientele and show them why your new ideas work for them.
Foodable: What advice would you give to a new restauranteur?
BK: Plan ahead, be willing to adjust to your clients’ needs. Listen to them and if you are a chef, have a presence in the dining room as well.
Foodable: From earning multiple accolades to being named Best New Chef in America by Food & Wine Magazine, to say your resume is impressive would definitely be an understatement. What do you attribute your success to?
BK: Hard work and a passionate dedication to creating inventive — and most importantly — delicious food. Miami is a blessing because it is such a melting pot where I can pull flavors from anywhere to inspire my dishes.
Foodable: Miami is still sort of an underdog compared to cities like L.A. and New York when it comes to its culinary scene. What makes you excited to be working in Miami right now, and where do you see Miami’s foodie scene going in the next 5 years?
BK: The culinary scene is booming here and it’s an honor to be a part of it. The diners are excited and adventurous — this allows a creative chef to really go for it. More and more independent restauranteurs and chefs are making their mark in the city. Miami has grown past South Beach and great spots are opening all over the city. I would like to see more home-grown independent chefs come up the ranks and open awesome neighborhood spots all over town.