Chef Michael Schwarz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, FL, Florida, Grand Cayman, Blue Star Foods, Crab, Recipes, Recommendations, Where to eat in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago





Chef Michael Schwartz has been making a name for himself in the Miami food scene since opening Nemo on Miami Beach in 1994. In 2007, he opened Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami’s Design District with an emphasis on farm-to-table cuisine. His commitment to serving delicious, sustainable cuisine, won him many fans and the coveted James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South 2010. This past summer, chef Schwartz opened his second Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Grand Cayman.

Chef Schwartz recently became product ambassador for Blue Star Foods ; an eco-friendly South Florida based company that processes and distributes crab meat throughout the United States and Europe. His first cookbook, “Michael’s Genuine Food: Down to Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat,” releases on February 15, 2011 [buy it here].

Q & A with chef Michael Schwartz

Q. What are some of the challenges and benefits of opening a restaurant on an island (Grand Cayman) so far from the mainland? Any issues obtaining ingredients?

A. It’s a learning curve and I think we're getting the hang of it. Timing orders from our distributors is a little different, with more lead time than in Miami, so we've had to get good at forecasting - not a bad thing.

The climate is very similar to what we’ve got in South Florida, so lots of what we're finding on-island is familiar. We've developed relationships with a bunch of local farmers. Their enthusiasm for growing new things and working with us is really exciting. Camana Bay is also planting a Chef's Garden for us, literally in our backyard. It's still in development. I can't wait for the fall when we can start sourcing ingredients for the menu and use the space to entertain guests.

Q. You’ve just been name “Chef Ambassador” for Blue Star Foods. What attracted you to Blue Star Foods that made you want to get involved?

A. I like being able to support a local, family-owned business. I'm very particular about the product I source. John and Erika insist on using fresh, high quality crab meat and are committed to responsible sourcing and packaging.

Q. What is necessary for (Blue) crab sustainability and what can people do on their end? 

A. The most important thing is for people to take an active interest in where their food comes from. Maybe they don't have the luxury a chef might to visiting producers, but they should stay informed on the issues and read up on companies whenever possible. Where they choose to spend their money at the store and in restaurants is really important.

Tip & Advice

Q. What’s your advice for how to buy, prep, cook, and keep crab?

A. Don't skimp when it comes to quality. Blue Star Crab meat is pasteurized so it will keep for a while, unopened. It's also delicate and comes already cooked, so keep that in mind when prepping and cooking it.  It doesn't take much to bring it to the table.

Q. What are some great ways for eating crab?

A. It's so versatile. I think the four recipes I developed for Blue Star Foods demonstrate that. Lump is great for the summer rolls; they really show off its meaty texture and sweetness. Then you have something like the claw meat, which shines in a rich soup or can be breaded and fried into a croquette, or mixed into slaw or salad.

- Crab Cake with Carrot Butter Sauce

- Crab and Calabaza Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

- Garlic Chili Crab Dip

- Crab and Lychee Summer Rolls


Q. Can you share beverage/crab pairing ideas?

A. I think my beverage of choice would be an Old Speckled Hen with the Garlic Chile Crab Dip and a pile of freshly made potato chips.


Q. Among your fellow chefs, whom do you admire and/or look to for advice?

A. Chef Michel Nischan is a good friend of mine who reminds me that part of being a great chef is recognizing your responsibility to the community as a whole, not just to the people who can afford to dine out in your restaurants. His Wholesome Wave program doubles the value of food stamps for purchases of locally-grown produce, making sure that fresh and healthy food gets to the people who need it most. We just brought it to Miami. He's inspired me to be a better chef.

Q. Who are the purveyors that inspire your creativity and what products?

A. The small, family operations we support are all inspirational in one way or another. It's mostly their commitment to their products, like Henry Fudge of his Fudge Farms pork. He's borderline fanatical, and that's what makes his pork chops taste so good. He makes my job easy!



Q. Have you come across any interesting products/ingredients that you found particularly interesting and what is it about it that you like?

A. There's this amazing Thai eggplant we've been getting all summer long from Patrick Panton of East End Garden in Grand Cayman. The little, striped green bulb is so sweet and without the tough skin and bitterness of the supermarket variety. Thomas, my chef de cuisine down there, is doing it as a side with pine nuts, raisins, bell pepper, and Thai basil.

Q. Are there food markets around the world that you love?

A. Hands down -- Ferry Building, San Francisco. 


Q. When not at your own restaurants, where do you love to dine in Miami and what do you order?

- off the beaten track that you’d be excited to take an adventurous eater?

A. Lung Gong - Authentic Szechuan Chinese. Lotus flower sautéed with garlic -- if they have it that day.

[See details.]

- Iconic South Florida cuisine?

A. Joe's Stone Crab has been around since 1913. It's definitely an icon down here, and won't disappoint.

[See details.]

- Seafood?

A. The soft shelled crab buns at Sakaya Kitchen.

[See details.]

- Lunch spots?

A. The Shack Burger from Shake Shack.

[See details.]

- Local Latin flavors?

A. La Camaronera for the Minuto Sandwich.

[See details.]

- Any other places that the locals love?

A. Hiro's Yakko-San - get the crispy fish salad.

[See details.]


Q. Where do you like to go for cocktails or places that have notable wine lists and what do you like to order?

A. Anything at The Publican in Chicago.

[See details.]


Details of chef Michael Schwartz’s recommendations on where to eat and shop in Miami, Chicago, Connecticut, and San Francisco.


- Macallan 12 Year Sherry Oak Spiced Pecans

- Crispy Polenta Fries

- Crab Cake with Carrot Butter Sauce

- Crab and Calabaza Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

- Garlic Chili Crab Dip

- Crab and Lychee Summer Rolls

- Slow-Roasted Short Ribs with Romesco Sauce


Michael’s Genuine Food

Purchase at:

Q & A

Photographs courtesy of Michael Schwartz


- Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat [buy it]


Chef Michael Schwartz’s recommendations on where to eat and shop in Miami, Chicago, Connecticut, and San Francisco.


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Design District

Contemporary American

130 Northeast 40th Street

Miami, FL 33137

T: 305.573.5550 (make a reservation)



Design District

Italian / Pizza

3918 North Miami Avenue

Miami, FL 33127

T: 786.275.4963



Camana Bay Town Dock

Contemporary American

47 Forum Lane, Suite 4103

Canella Court, Camana Bay

T: 345.640.6433