Portrait shot of chef Thomas Keller
“I want [guests] to experience wonderful cuisine and impeccable service—food presented in a nostalgic yet fun fashion.”–CHEF THOMAS KELLER
LET YOUR TASTE BUDS REJOICE AS SOBEWFF RETURNS THIS MONTH WITH THREE-MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF THOMAS KELLER AND HIS BEST DISHES ON BOARD FOR THE FESTIVITIES.
Avocado Louie from The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller
Some may consider the holidays to be the most wonderful time of the year. In Miami for us foodies, it is the highly anticipated, annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which is, indeed, the most wonderful time of year. After a three-month postponement due to the ongoing concerns of the pandemic, the festival returns to the sands of Miami’s beaches to bring a killer lineup of some of the biggest culinary names in the world. Joining us this year for the first time? Three-Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller (@chefthomaskeller). In light of the upcoming festival and his beloved Miami eatery, The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller, we chat with the storied chef and his chef de cuisine Manuel Echeverri to learn more about their festival debut and what palate-pleasing dishes and surprises they have planned for us this season. 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside, @surfclubrestaurant
Tell us about your involvement with the SOBEWFF this year. What can we look forward to?
Manuel Echeverri: We want to showcase some of The Surf Club Restaurant’s updated continental cuisine classics and give SOBEWFF guests a taste of what our restaurant is all about. We will start with our popular welcome snacks, including French onion dip and deviled eggs, followed by avocado Louie and a jumbo lump crab cake. Dinner will feature a prime beef short rib Wellington with either a toasted coconut chiffon cake or dark chocolate layer cake.
While other chefs from around the country have flocked to Miami this year, you were ahead of the game. Why was Miami such an appealing market for you to expand to with The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller?
Thomas Keller: The Surf Club Restaurant, located in one of the most recognizable locations in the world, presented the perfect opportunity. We’re taking inspiration from—and honoring—the parties and leisure activity the property saw in its heyday during the 1930s by serving classic continental cuisine interpreted to meet the expectations of today’s guests.
Ribeye from The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller
Do you have any programming or exciting updates going on in the restaurant? Any seasonal dishes we can look out for?
TK: Right now, it’s a perfect time to dine outdoors, enjoy the oceanfront view and sip a drink under the banyan tree. We are developing our new private dining spaces and outdoor bar to launch in the fall.
The Surf Club Restaurant is a very magical dining experience. What do you want your guests to experience while dining there?
TK: I want them to experience wonderful cuisine and impeccable service—food presented in a nostalgic yet fun fashion that will transport guests to a vibrant and casual environment reminiscent of the jet-set days—while still being relevant to today’s modern dining scene.
What have been some of your greatest takeaways as a leader in the hospitality industry over the past year?
TK: Clearly, the past year has presented unique challenges. The culinary community is a collaborative, caring and capable group of individuals. While many have sadly closed, numerous independent restaurants have found creative ways to provide nourishment in their communities in whatever way they can. These chefs and proprietors are enterprising; some are even vocal—tirelessly lobbying to ensure grant relief with the passing of the American Rescue Plan. That, together with our culture of hospitality and caring for our guests and each other, has pushed us to do our best and adapt. The environment may be new, but the goals remain the same. Patience and persistence have been a guiding force for our teams and myself as we adjust to this new climate and landscape.
Photography by: PHOTOS BY DEBORAH JONES