For Best Chefs America
Brad Kilgore has quickly risen to be recognized as top talent in the U.S. one year after opening Miami's Alter restaurant. He also got more nominations to become a new BCA Best Chef than we've ever received.
Nominators commend Kilgore for adding to the trendy up-and-coming ambiance of the Wynwood area, where Alter is located (and other restaurants have failed). He brought national attention to the culinary scene of Miami, a city that isn't often acknowledged for its F&B scene. Despite the fast-earned prestige he's garnered, fans of Kilgore's respect his affable demeanor — and most importantly, his endlessly creative and unique cuisine that is so delicious people anxiously crave it until the next time they can dine at his restaurant.
Kilgore is also opening Brava in Miami's Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center.
BCA: How does it feel to get so many accolades within your first year of opening?
BK: I mean, blessed really, amazing. It came across from so many different angles. Locally and nationally, we received different types of accolades and recognition. We don’t even have PR. We’ve never had PR. It’s a testament to our product.
octopus, peruvian panca chili, green mango vinegar, ink and vegetable crisps
BCA: You (and Alter) have been ranked as one of the 100 Best Wine Restaurants, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, Miami Herald’s Restaurant of the Year, Eater’s Miami Chef of the Year, and now as a Best Chef in America. Do you agree with all these titles and recognition?
BK: I’ll put it this way, my goal is to get these recognitions, and hopefully more. It really just tells me that what we’re putting on the plate is worth it. It’s the first year, we have a long ways to go.
morel & artichoke, chicken jus, caramelized artichoke creme, radish pods, herb nest
BCA: What's the most intricate dish you've ever created?
BK: I did a San Pellegrino Best Chef competition and they told me my recipe was too complicated to get done in time. The recipe was 7.5 pages long. I convinced them to let me do it. It’s a dish that recreates a coral reef. It has different colors and components on it. As you’re looking it, there are two different types of sponges, thinly sliced sashimi, lobster salad minced, razor clams, manila clams, an eggless custard underneath all of it, and various types of seaweed. It ends being plated on a blue plate that represents the water.
coral reef, sponge, valve, urchin, seaweeds
BCA: What is it like to have the responsibility of running two restaurant at the young age of 30? How did you know you were ready?
BK: I’ll answer the question backwards. You never know you’re ready until you do it. I like to stay busy and stay challenged. I like to cook a lot of different things, from barbecue from Kansas City, to the creative, forward thinking food at Alter, to the more classical food I’m making at Brava. You need to hit the iron while it’s hot and keep moving along. The chefs who have multiple concepts get stir crazy. They want to keep adding things to the pile. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun. If you’re going to be working 15 hours a day, why not spread it across different avenues?
blue crab shumai, green thai curry, kumquat emulsion, cilantro relish
BCA: How do you make sure the many different flavors in your dishes fit together?
BK: If you put yourself in a box by saying you're a French or Italian restaurant, how creative can you really get? I don’t like putting a stamp on the type of food I make. That’s why you’ll see five different cuisines and techniques on one plate. I don’t always want to create in simple ways. I learned from L2O (Laurent Gras's Chicago restaurant) to streamline everything as much as possible. Everything is weighed out to a gram on a scale. We can backtrack and find out where mistakes are made. We have a very small kitchen and make use of every drop of it.
'parts of a tart' - miso yogurt, floridian clams, buckwheat tart shell, parsley
BCA: Tell us more about your plans for Brava.
BK: It opens at the end of this month. It’s going to be more classic with me and my wife’s (the pastry chef at Alter) creative touches to it. It’s going to be in this gorgeous modern building that hosts Broadway shows, symphonies, and concerts. It’s owned and operated by the city. It’s something I’m very proud to be asked to be a part of it. The city came to me. People will come to Brava to have their night of the year. We want to give them the full experience from food to the show. The cuisine will be a bit more French, with white plates, classic and clean and beautiful presentations. One menu item that I hope becomes signature is a whipped clam chowder.
BCA: Any messages to share with the other Best Chefs out there?
BK: I really love this time for chefs in general. I think it’s amazing how much respect we’re getting for our jobs. There were many times before this era when chefs worked their asses off and didn’t get any recognition.
One thing we’re going to have to do is pave the way and figure out how to sustain people's love for creative food even as the population gets so large. There’s going to have to be a happy medium of how we present ourselves. The current trend of focusing on vegetables is a way to replenish food supplies. We need to do more of that.
There are people who eat for pleasure and others for sustenance. There’s nothing wrong with it. Getting creative and using our knowledge and talents to make the world better is important. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s something I think about.
udon noodles, oxtail dan dan, fermented purple cabbage, mustard stem, chili oil
BCA: Why do you love this industry?
BK: It doesn’t ever stop. It keeps growing. It keeps getting more interesting. There are never enough ways to express yourself. If you’re the type of person who never feels satisfied, this is the best industry for you. Keep growing, keep evolving. The hospitality component is also amazing. The business feels like your home. There’s nothing better than walking around a dining room full of happy, intrigued people.