Customer Profile – Lippi Restaurant
In September, the long-anticipated restaurant, Lippi, opened its doors to the public in beautiful Miami. Inspired by the New American dining experience, Lippi’s menu offers an array of carefully crafted dishes using organic and high quality ingredients. From grilled lobster tail to lentil salad, each plate is unique in presentation and delicious with every bite. Besides the gorgeous dining setting, Lippi has a stunning stylish bar where guests can grab a specialty cocktail or enjoy old and new world wines. The restaurant has a wine program that includes a comprehensive list of 420 wines from all over the world. They even have one of the most complete Single Malt listings in South Florida, ranging from rare to vintage collections.
We had the privilege of interviewing Chef Philippe Ruiz to learn more about his achievements and inspirations, Lippi and what advice he would give to aspiring chefs.
R.W. Smith: Please tell us about your journey to becoming an executive chef.
Philippe Ruiz: I started as a line cook and grew from there. After years of experience, hard work and dedication, I became an executive chef. I’ve figured out that these are the ingredients to achieving your goals and realizing your dreams.
RWS: Lippi Restaurant offers an array of elegant Mediterranean and New American appetizers and entrees. Among them, what are the most popular dishes?
PR: In the last few months, the Marinated Roe Fish (crudos) has become very popular among customers. However, the Cured Hamachi, the Octopus Carpaccio, and the Grilled Duck Breast on natural charcoal have always been our guest favorites.
RWS: Lippi’s wine program includes a list of 420 wines from old and new world regions. Please share with readers insights to selecting the best wine for each of your culinary creations.
PR: There are so many choices that I can’t provide all the wine pairings, but for our popular Grilled Duck Breast, I would recommend Pinot Noir Evesham Wood “Cuvee J” 2010. As for our Roe Fish, try the Saumur-Champigny Clos Rougeard “Les Poyeux” 2009.
RWS: In 2006, you received the title of Chevalier of the Order of Agricultural Merit by the government of France. What has this award meant to you?
PR: This award made me feel amazing! It’s me being recognized for spreading the French culinary culture to the rest of the world. It isn’t an award given out to just anyone so I felt honored to have received it.
RWS: Over the course of your career, what foods or dishes have inspired you the most?
PR: Being a fisherman I have always enjoyed working and cooking with seafood.
RWS: What advice would you give to aspiring chefs looking to creatively set themselves apart from the competition?
PR: Practice your skills to make sure you know the basics, read books, look at food reviews and try to gather as many ideas as you like to build your own persona in the kitchen. Remember to think about taste and combinations of different products to make sure they taste well together. Try not to overdo it though!
R.W. Smith & Co would also like to say congratulations to Lippi for making the cover and a spread in the spring edition of Miami’s Dining Out Magazine!
Now Open: Buns & Buns
Calling all carb lovers! Get your buns over to Buns & Buns, one of the newest Zagat-approved restaurants in South Miami. Their globally dynamic menu is inspired by world travels, offering ingredient-driven, fine dining cuisine that is made-to-order at an affordable price. Customers have the option of choosing from seven different buns baked fresh daily, which include: herb, brioche, pretzel, ciabatta, a steamed bun, a cheese naan, and a bunless bun a.k.a. lettuce wrap. Corporate Chef Reuven Sugarman complements the carbs nicely by using exotic blends of handcrafted sauces and spices with premium selections of meat, vegetable and seafood dishes.
Sports lovers can get their grub on buns while watching their favorite teams play on a giant projector screen. If you’re not a sports fan, get your drink on during the Bun Master’s Happy Hour Social held Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.
This video offers more on how these incredible buns are served and made fresh every day.
Project Showcase – Graton Resort & Casino
Project: Graton Resort & Casino – Federate Indians of Graton Rancheria
Opened: November 2013
About Company: Owned and operated by the Federate Indians of Graton Rancheria, Graton Resort & Casino is the region’s newest gaming resort. Located in Sonoma County, Graton Resort & Casino is the ultimate entertainment experience, featuring an array of slot machines and table games, upscale and casual dining, and events. Guests can enjoy a drink at their signature lounges and bars, attend a live concert or dine at one of four award-winning restaurants – Tony’s of North Beach, 630 Park Steakhouse, M.Y. China or Daily Grill.
Length of project: 8 Months
RWS Contribution: From the beginning, R.W. Smith was highly involved in the decision-making process for all tabletop and smallwares. Our Sales Consultant worked closely with the Corporate Chef proposing and sourcing several products for the steakhouse, dining room, food court and bars. RWS was able to develop an ideal package that fit perfectly with Graton’s vision. With over 120 pallets delivered, RWS provided an array of foodservice supplies including Villeroy & Boch china dinnerware, Cardinal glassware, Steelite flatware, smallwares and equipment.
Partnership: RWS and Graton Resort & Casino formed a very strong relationship throughout the project. Our sales consultant has built a trusting and long-lasting relationship with the on-site personnel, executive chef, food & beverage team, restaurant managers and the purchasing department in Las Vegas. After this successful collaboration, RWS continues to work hard to remain one of Graton’s preferred vendors for all their foodservice needs.
R.W. Smith & Co. Honored to Support the Bottega Gran Fondo
On April 12th & 13th, the Bottega Gran Fondo kicked off its first annual 2-day event in the breathtaking Napa Valley area. Started by its owner, Chef Michael Chiarello, the Bottega Gran Fondo is a first of its kind destination cycling event that combines delicious food, wine and cycling into one weekend. Guests enjoyed great cooking demos, spectacular dinners and excellent wine on Saturday to help get ready for their Sunday ride. About 24 teams led by cycling pros and chefs participated in the 40-mile or 75-mile course. Each began in the streets of Yountville and continued through gorgeous Napa Valley. Riders had two rest stops along the way, Frog’s Leap Winery and Chiarello Family Vineyards, where they could refuel and prepare for the challenges ahead.
The Bottega Gran Fondo event supported three important programs that impact the Napa Valley community: Clinic Ole Community Health, Napa Bike and the Vine Trail. With the help of our vendors – Steelite, Villeroy & Boch and Oneida, R.W. Smith was honored to contribute to the event and support these valuable programs.
Congratulations to Chef Chiarello for such a successful event! We look forward to many more to come.
Photo Credit: Tubay Yabut
Serving Up Ideas to Create a Trendy Buffet Display
Buffet and catering displays have evolved dramatically from the traditional straight line service to food stations and trendy stainless steel displays. With the rise in popularity of distinctive buffet trends and presentations, many restaurants are looking to interpret their creations in a more unique yet modern way. Whether you want to change the entire display or just add a unique flair, there are many techniques to design an impressive presentation.
Here are ideas to consider when creating a trendy buffet display:
1. Modernize. Though chafing dishes have always been the generic way to serving the masses, more and more companies are choosing to modernize their buffet displays. Using multiple tiers and levels can create an alluring showcase of your dishes. Some great cutting edge display options include Rosseto’s chic stainless steel risers, TableCraft’s displays, and cooling plates that help to maintain food temperatures.
2. Mix & Match. Don’t be a plain Jane when it comes to featuring your appetizers or desserts. Mix it up by using different shapes, sizes and textures at different elevations to add more dimensions and appeal to your buffet presentation. Bring together round, square and oval platters to complement your menu while creating a more eye-catching set up.
3. Themed Food Stations. Enhance the level of creativity of your buffet display by adding a theme for each course. Coordinate each station using different colors, cultural foods or specific course such as starter plates or entrees. Dividing the menu into food stations will spread out the presentation and create the illusion that there are several options to choose from. This can generate guest excitement and create a more festive display than just a traditional straight line buffet.
4. Re-purpose Glassware. Every restaurant stocks a variety of glassware from beer mugs to wine glasses to snifters. Be innovative by re-purposing pilsner or martini glasses to display your desserts or appetizers in a more unique way. Pouring soup into shot glasses, ice cream into mini martini glasses or stack vegetables into pilsner glasses are a few great examples. This will easily add depth and interest to any buffet display.
No matter what the occasion may be, a very stylish and distinctive buffet display will have a lasting effect on your guests. Take a moment to consider how you can incorporate these design ideas to make for a more exciting and memorable atmosphere.
The Cooperage American Grille Opens in Lafayette
Early last month, the long awaited and locally owned restaurant, The Cooperage, opened its doors in Lafayette, CA. This beautiful family-friendly restaurant has a stylish and comfortable atmosphere that is a home away from home. Customers will enjoy a delicious menu of American favorites such as a New York Steak or the restaurant’s signature burger – made with house ground Angus and all the fixin’s. For a healthier option, guests can choose from a great selection of salads made with fresh, locally grown and organic ingredients. If you’d rather have a quenching drink, make your way to the bar to indulge in fantastic vintage cocktails, diverse wines or beers on tap while watching your favorite sports team.
Why not take a night out with friends and enjoy some great American Grille at this amazing restaurant.
New Authentic Asian Restaurant Opens in Fort Lauderdale
Just steps away from Fort Lauderdale beach, a new restaurant offering authentic Asian fusion cuisine is now open for business. Bao, meaning treasure in Mandarin or a fluffy bun, brings together complex flavored dishes with all natural proteins, local vegetables and tantalizing herbs. With its warm rustic and Indonesian atmosphere, locals will find Bao to be the perfect dining destination to enjoy great food and their favorite cocktails with friends, co-workers or family. If you like to watch the ‘back-of-house’ in action, Bao’s kitchen is exposed so customers can observe Executive Chef Mark Rivera and his culinary team create beautiful authentic Pan-Asian cuisines.
When in the area, be sure to stop by to indulge in Fort Lauderdale’s stunning sun-kissed beaches and the enticing menu at Bao.
Now Open: Barrel Head Brewhouse
Bay Area beer fans just got a little bit luckier, as Barrel Head Brewhouse opened its doors in NOPA on St. Patty’s Day.
Located in one of San Francisco’s hottest bar scenes, the much-anticipated brewery and restaurant is the brainchild of managing partner Ivan Hopkinson and his team. Its interior is a mix of cool industrial openness and warm wood finishes. Currently, the restaurant serves guests from 11am to 2am weekdays and 10am to 2am on weekends.
Back in the kitchen, Chef Tim Tattan is dishing up a unique menu you won’t find anywhere else. Of his menu, he states:
I am so excited to have a hand in brewing the beer, crafting the food and making the best possible pairings between the two. We strive to be a San Francisco favorite, but also a neighborhood destination. My menu will have dishes that aren’t possible to make in a home kitchen, but for a price that allows patrons to come in three or four nights a week. Guests can enjoy one-of-a-kind beer with great local food in a beautiful building.
While the brewery won’t begin producing hand-crafted hops for another 6-8 weeks, with 42 taps ready to start pouring, it’s definitely worth the wait.
Congratulation to the Barrel Head Brewhouse crew on your grand opening!
Choosing Restaurant Dinnerware that Complements Your Concept
While for most of us, the role of dinnerware in restaurant dining rooms isn’t something we consider, for restaurateurs, chefs and foodies, the choice of plateware can make the difference between a great presentation and a truly poor one. It’s an important component of the whole look of your restaurant. We know you want to make an everlasting impression on guests that dine at your restaurant, so here are some tips to consider when choosing the perfect dinnerware.
- Ambiance. Think about what it is you really want to portray in your restaurant. Is it a fine dining or casual establishment? Refined and sophisticated? Fun and trendy? Warm and colorful? For a finer dining atmosphere, opt for porcelain or china plates, while for casual atmospheres, choose melamine or plastic dishes. To get a trendy feel, use square plates, such as Churchill X Squared. To create a more fun vibe, add a little color to the table, like with Steelite Anfora Sedona.
- Mix and Match. Look for dinnerware that complements the feel of your restaurant. If you have white dinnerware, experiment by adding colorful accents or shapes to your setting. Even different textures can be a great way to express your creativity. However, if you prefer to stick with the timelessness of bone china, try mixing in accompaniment pieces in various shapes to give your setting a different look while keeping it simple, too.
- Budget. Have a specific budget in mind, but also consider the value of your purchases. Keep in mind, buying better and more durable pieces now that are a little more expensive could save you more cash in the long run. Great quality china will not scratch as much when stacked, as the bottom is smooth and it is more resistant to markings left behind by flatware. Dinnerware for commercial settings is generally priced higher than for the home, their heavy-duty durability is well-worth the investment.
- Intended Use. If your restaurant serves some dishes on hotplates, look into choosing dinnerware that can withstand the high heat and investing in underliners. Shop for plates and bowls that are microwave-safe or oven-safe, which will be more durable and long lasting. Also, don’t forget about Sizzle Platters, which are a great way to serve steaks and other piping hot cuisines.
When selecting your dinnerware, be sure to take the time to choose the right options that fit your restaurant’s concept. It’s important that the first impression is a great one that leaves customers eager to come back again and again.
Q&A with Brandon Hernández of San Diego Reader
San Diego may be best known for its surf and sun, but the county is quickly becoming recognized for its burgeoning craft beer scene. The area boasts a diverse range of breweries, brewpubs and brewery-restaurants, not to mention an annual beer week, numerous brewery tours and, soon, accommodations tailored to the traveling beer connoisseur.
If you’re looking to understand the ins and outs of San Diego’s booming beer scene, then grab a brewski and check out the latest beer news from local writer Brandon Hernández. An award-winning journalist, Hernández is passionate about his hometown’s craft beer culture and has turned his obsession into a thriving freelance writing career as well as a coveted communications position at the largest craft brewery in Southern California. He frequently pens a column for San Diego Reader and has contributed hops-inspired articles to a slew of industry publications, including San Diego Magazine, Imbibe and Beer Magazine.
In our interview, Hernández shares which brew trend will be hot this year and reveals his inspiration for creating the area’s first comprehensive guide to more than 80 local breweries.
R.W. Smith: You are San Diego’s top craft beer journalist and a contributor to many local and national publications, including San Diego Reader. How did your writing career get started, and why craft beer?
Brandon Hernández: My road to beer and food writing was both long and uncommon. Since junior high school, I’d written fiction as a hobby. After high school, I developed an obsession with the culinary arts and immersed myself in them for over a decade. Along the way, I discovered craft beer—I was lucky to have never had macrobreweries’ bland industrial interpretation of beer, so it was easy to fall in love and avoid substandard imitations. I also had the good fortune of having Food Network select and spotlight one of my award-winning recipes. That led to a return performance as a consultant to Emeril Live. My efforts with Food Network lit a fire inside me. I wanted to devote my energies and my culinary knowledge to a career in food, but I was in the midst of a career I’d worked hard to establish and not in a position to pursue kitchen work. A friend of mine who knew of my writing suggested I reach out to local publications. I did and, within 24 hours, had assignments from three publications.
Over the next seven years, as a result of diligent work, tenacity and assistance from industry contacts, I have become one of San Diego’s most prolific food and beverage journalists, and the county’s most keyed in craft beer voice. I was one of the first to focus on the latter medium, and the first to contribute articles on San Diego’s craft breweries (well over 80 operating brewhouses in the county at the time of this writing) to many of the area’s magazines. Back when I was pitching round-ups of the brewing scene, editors were confounded by the subject and leery of freeing up page space for it. I was ahead of the curve, but recognized the exceptional nature of the high quality ales and lagers being produced by San Diego companies, and fought hard to win some ink for the industry.
Fast forward to present day and San Diego is considered by most to be the craft brewing capital of the United States. Local brewers are celebrated nationally and by the county’s residents. It’s rare to come across a publication that doesn’t feature beer in some significant way, and I am proud to have, in some small way, helped to make that happen. Craft beer is a driving force in my life and something I very much appreciate and feel honored to have a platform to support.
RWS: Last fall, you published San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries, which takes readers through nearly 80 local craft beer brewhouses and tasting facilities. What motivated you to create this in-depth guide?
BH: No definitive guide to what is arguably the country’s finest craft brewing landscape existed, so I created one. But in doing so, I avoided approaching the subject of San Diego’s breweries in the manner most every other journalist reporting on the subject does—as a cheerleader only expounding on the many positives. As with any type of business in any region anywhere, there are great operations, there are good operations, there are so-so operations and there are some that fall into the unacceptable range. Anybody interested in a guide to a region’s breweries will naturally want to know what category those breweries fall into rather than read a glossy, all-sunshine production that reads like it was put together by the local chamber of commerce. I endeavored to give readers the truest interpretation of craft beer quality in San Diego County on a business-by-business, venue-by-venue basis, drawing on the educated opinions of local bar owners, brewing industry personnel, beer experts (Cicerones) and quality control professionals. The result is a guide containing numerical scores mirroring the Zagat Review (for which I am a local editor) in three categories—beer quality, service and setting. It is the only critical guide to what is a fascinating region for artisanal ales and lagers that should be a required entry on any craft beer lover’s bucket list.
RWS: We noticed you’re the Communications Specialist at Stone Brewing Co. That sounds like a pretty interesting job! Tell us, what is a typical day is like?
BH: Honestly, there is no typical day. Like most craft breweries, Stone has a lot going on, usually all at once. My day begins with triage, assessing which projects—new beer promotion, bottle and packaging text generation, social media content development, blog post writing, long-term planning, internal communication, imagery coordination, event planning, etc.—require the most immediate attention. Since it’s all about the beer, tasks related to it are hammered out first. The best part of my job, and something I try to do as often as possible, is taking fans behind the curtain and giving them as many glimpses as possible at what life is like here at Stone as well as what we have in the hopper. Being a craft beer enthusiast, I know this is what people like me want and it is both a privilege and a joy to get to share this amazing place and the talented people I work with to Stone fans. Though always busy (often too busy), it is an extremely fun and rewarding job that falls directly in line with my core passions and skill sets. And did I mention there’s beer there?
RWS: Any craft brewing trends making their way on to the local scene this year?
BH: Imperialized everything—high-alcohol beers in every style one can think of—have been the norm in San Diego for some time. By and large, brawny, big character beers are what locals crave (as do outsiders consuming our beer abroad), but there is a growing demand for session beers—low-alcohol ales and lagers imbibers can consume several of without succumbing to deeper degrees of inebriation. There is one condition, however. San Diegans are not willing to give up the big flavor of their imperial beers. Session beers, which generally come in at 4.5% alcohol-by-volume or lower, need to pack the tasty punch of big beers to be considered viable alternatives. Fortunately, more and more breweries are picking up the gauntlet and laying down seriously flavorful and pleasantly sessionable brews, thus further diversifying San Diego’s sudsy portfolio.
RWS: Spring is nearly here in San Diego. Which seasonal food and craft beer pairing is your favorite?
BH: I could never choose just one pairing as my favorite, but when I think springtime, my mind conjures images of the many seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs hitting their stride. To me, few beer styles convey the green, vibrant nature of spring and its edibles as well as saisons. Spicy, flowery and effervescent, these ales hailing back to farmhouses in Belgium and France pair beautifully with the season’s bounty thanks much in part to yeast-borne fruit and funk.
Brandon Hernández is a native San Diegan and award-winning journalist with a passion for the culinary arts and all edible and quaffable fare. He is an editor for Zagat Survey and a communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co. In addition to his work for the San Diego Reader, he is also the San Diego correspondent for the nation’s oldest craft beer publication, Celebrator Beer News, and a contributor to national outlets including Wine Enthusiast, All About Beer, Imbibe, The Beer Connoisseur, Beer West, USA TODAY and Tasting Table. He has served as a consultant for Food Network, and has contributed to numerous chefs’ cookbook projects. His book, San Diego Beer News Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.