Chef Michael Schwartz
When Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink premiered in the Miami Design District in 2007, it opened to immediate acclaim and standing-room-only crowds. In an unpretentious setting, diners enjoy congenial service, a relaxed yet sophisticated setting and the straightforward, ingredient-driven cuisine of chef/owner Michael Schwartz. With the launch of his eponymous restaurant, Schwartz (46) defined the Miami Design District as Miami's hot new dining destination, raising his profile from well-respected local culinary personality to a nationally renowned culinary innovator. Recently honored with the prestigious 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South, Schwartz is recognized by his peers and the diners that flock to his restaurant for his culinary chops, as well as his support of local farmers and commitment to sustainability.
Coming on the heels of the restaurant's three-year anniversary, the Beard award signals an amazing run for Schwartz and his restaurant. New York Times' dining critic Frank Bruni included Michael's Genuine on the 2008 compilation of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the United States, ranking it fourth, and then revisited the restaurant in 2010 for a feature story on Miami as a dining destination. Schwartz has also been lauded in Food & Wine with a ten page spread in the December 2008 issue and MGFD was anointed to Condé Nast Traveler's 2008 "Hot List."
Singled out in Gourmet magazine's annual restaurant guide as one of the nation’s best Farm to Table restaurants, and in Bon Appétit as "the hottest indie act in town" and a place where "the food comes first", the restaurant also made Esquire magazine’s prestigious list of Best New Restaurants 2007, a guide to the country’s top 20 new dining destinations. Schwartz is a sought after television personality/culinary guest, having appeared nationally on a plethora of programs, including Rachael Ray’s Rachael’s Vacation, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, After Hours With Daniel Boulud, Top Chef, and Simply Ming with Ming Tsai, among others. Schwartz will cook alongside Emeril Lagasse on the celebrity chef’s new Cooking Channel show, Fresh Food Fast, slated to air in summer 2010.
A native of Philadelphia, Schwartz first became known to Miami diners in the mid-1990s when he opened Nemo, an exciting venue that quickly became one of South Beach’s most beloved restaurants – a hit with visitors and locals alike. Kudos quickly followed, including Nemo’s designation as one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine. Under Schwartz's aegis, other South Beach restaurants – Shoji Sushi and Big Pink – followed and were equally successful.
Since that time, Schwartz has made his mark on the South Florida dining landscape as a culinary innovator, notable for his predilection for using exceptionally fresh products. After many years honing his craft, Schwartz and his wife Tamara, who sparked the chef's interest in organics and sustainable products, opened Michael's Genuine, a charming and welcoming restaurant that doubles as a casual neighborhood dining spot and a culinary destination by virtue of the self-trained chef’s outstanding cuisine offered at reasonable prices. Schwartz, who considers himself a disciple of Alice Waters, has achieved national renown by creating the taste that diners crave – simply sublime cuisine created with the highest quality ingredients.
In June 2010, Schwartz will bring his successful brand to the Cayman Islands, with the opening of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink Camana Bay. There, he'll work with local fishermen and farmers to help shine the spotlight on the rich culinary resources of the Caribbean, just as he has done in South Florida. In February 2011, Schwartz's first cookbook, Michael's Genuine Food: Down to Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat, published by Clarkson Potter, will go on sale. Recently, the busy chef began an ambassadorship with Blue Star Foods, a successful Miami-based crab meat company that shares Schwartz’s commitment to sustainability and high quality product.
Schwartz is a member of Slow Food Miami, is on Food & Wine magazine's Grow for Good Campaign Committee, and part of the advisory board for Miami-Dade College's new culinary arts program launching in August 2010. He is also a partner in the Roots in the City Farmers Market, working in conjunction with the Wholesome Wave Foundation, Miami's Human Services Coalition, and local farmers to increase access to affordable, local farm fresh produce to one of South Florida’s most underserved communities.