Miami Industry Leaders Discuss Fine Dining, the Next Wynwood, and Making an Impact
“I’m tired of being a pioneer,” Jeremiah Bullfrog said to an enthusiastic audience last week at the Langford Hotel. The Gastropod chef/owner was one of five panelists invited by Disrupt Miami — a monthly speaker series that connects like-minded individuals with local innovators helping to shape the Magic City’s future — to discuss the city’s ever-evolving culinary scene. He was responding to the question on everyone’s mind: Where is the next Wynwood? Joining him in the discussion were Guillermo Concha of PB Station, Freddy Kaufmannof Proper Sausages, William Crandall of Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, and Julie Frans of Seed Food & Wine Festival and Slow Foods. Chat Chow TV‘s Gio Gutierrez was the moderator.
The group’s consensus was that Wynwood — Miami’s “Brooklyn,” as Bullfrog calls it — can’t be replicated because, unlike other neighborhoods, it was an empty slate. Besides, to call an area the next Wynwood limits creativity, said Proper Sausages’ Kaufmann. Instead, he thinks we should concentrate on how to enhance each neighborhood’s existing charm or come up with novel ways of breathing life into other areas of the city. That said, the panelists agreed that pockets of Miami are in the midst of developing strong culinary identities, such as downtown, Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Little River, and Little Haiti.
And although Bullfrog doesn’t want to be the first one to take a chance on a new neighborhood, PB Station’s Concha called the Langford Hotel and the Pubbelly Boys pioneers for opening a sophisticated restaurant in downtown Miami. “I think as a chef and a small-business owner, there’s no greater satisfaction than when you start something and build it,” he told the crowd. For his part, Izzy’s Fish & Oyster’s Crandall believes the real “pioneers” are the customers who venture to try a restaurant in a developing part of town and continue to support it as the area flourishes.