Guest post via ShortstackPhoto.com
In my quest to figure out where I fit in the varied groups in Miami (it’s quite the quest, as anyone new to Miami can vouch for), “Refresh Miami” came into focus as a recommendation from Ana Arguello, Owner/Founder of Benii Boutique. I had signed up to receive info from Refresh, but was passive about it until I got the reminder about the food + tech combo. I love food. I love nerds. What could go wrong? Well, an issue I’ve had with PayPal since 2009, that’s what. I had $25.00 sitting in there since then from when my camera was stolen and Matthew Knell dropped the cash in there to help in any way he could. And once my PayPal issue was resolved (while I no doubt tested the patience of Refresh’s Brian Breslin) look, it helped 4 years later! Thanks Matt!
Travis Starwalt from Tuyo was late, but that was fine with me. His delay gave me more time to talk with Andrea Vigil of Cushman & Wakefield and Bryce Kerley, a consulting engineer at Basho. Main topic: @_FloridaMan on Twitter and how people who don’t try to find the intriguing gems of Florida are too quick to dismiss it. One working tagline for this lovely and bizarre state: “Florida is cray… in the best way.” There may have been some expletives in there, but let’s keep it PG.
Travis Starwalt was awesome. He whipped up a delicious quinoa with veggies from Homestead’s own Paradise Farms, peppered with apologies for his lateness. His humor was deadpan, his knife wielding exceptional, his beard sparse but magnificent But what was most inspiring was his passion for a good meal, and how he wants to bring cooking and eating back to the communal table, where the whole experience is shared by friends and family.
Next up, Giorgio Rapicavoli from Eating House. Eater declared him “Most Palatable In The Face” chef or some nonsense, but he’s more than just a fancy set of specs. He won his episode of Food Network’s Chopped “and decided to do something with my life.” He spoke respectfully of his mentors, culinary idols, and Cap N Crunch. He also pimped out Publix’s Buy 1 Get 1 cereal specials.
Molecular gastronomy isn’t for everyone, and I’ve heard enough foodies scoff about it – you know those people, the purists. And sure, it was strange eating gazpacho in foam form (sprinkled with my favorite condiment next to butter: salt) and, even odder still, eating a blended gelatinous steak tartar, but the strangeness is compounded by the brilliance of art in your mouth. I respect people who delight your face with a little spin on what you already know. Even if what they’re feeding you is a natural laxative (agaragar!)
Chuck Woodard from ChillN Ice Cream Shop hit the stage in a 7 feet tall (to me) bundle of nervous energy. While delivering the straight presentation piece he seemed unsure, but as soon as he was behind that blender and flinging nitrogen all over the stage you could tell this was his calling. I don’t think anyone was unimpressed by the fact that this guy is a Junior at UM and a business owner. He upped the endearment factor by mentioning his mom’s support not only in allowing nitrogen in the garage, but also in the form of the strawberry puree he used in the ice cream samples he handed out.
The event was great – I met a bunch of people like Deb Hopkins, Jean Yzer from The South Florida Cancer Rehab Center and of course the baby faced leader, Brian Breslin. Special thanks to Gio of chatchow.com for being my hand model, and massive apologies to Bryce, who wore my Nutella ice cream. I’ll definitely be back to see what a typical Refresh gathering is like, as this was a departure from their usual format.
Full video below: