In keeping with Chef Daniel Boulud’s tradition of seasonal dishes  db Bistro Moderne is now offering The Fall Brunch Menu, a three course prix-fixe for $35,  with French/American brunch favorites, such as Eggs Florentine, Belgian Waffles and Croque Madame. A varied selection of fruits de mer is also available.

With four different types of Moules Frites Sunday Mussel Pot/ Les Moules du Dimanche (Sundays from 6pm to 11pm) is a three course Mussel Pot menu available on Sundays only from  6 to 11 pm for $35 per person.

The Happy Hour Menu (Monday – Friday 5 to 8pm) offers a tasty list of cocktails and spirits to enjoy after work all week long at half price, with   bar bites, including Tarte Fine Provençale, Garlic Pommes Frites, Charcuterie plate  and Raw Bar, among others.

Db Bistro Moderne inside the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, 255 Biscayne Blvd Way,  Downtown Miami,  (305) 421-8800 ·

On Tuesday, October 25th at 7 pm celebrity wedding planner James Tramondo of Style Network’s “Whose Wedding is It Anyway?” is hosting a Bridal Tea Party at  ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa where he and other wedding planners will shower their advice from tips on selecting reliable suppliers to recommendations on design and decoration and help brides-to-be organize their wedding.

At the event, ONE Bal Harbour will unveil its waterfront private dining room and will offer a guided tour of their facilities, including the luxurious Penthouse Suite.

The attendees of the "Bridal Tea Party" will feast on exotic teas and cakes and confection by "Elegant Temptations," they will also receive a bag of wedding gifts sponsored by Bloomingdale's and the chance to enter a drawing to win a night’s stay at ONE Bal Harbour.

The event cost $45 per bride and includes one guest. To register:   http://bit.ly/bridaltea or contact  Alice Villar, Director of Catering 305 455 5464 avillar@oneluxuryhotels.com ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa, 10295 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour Village, FL 33154

dining_in_the_dark

From October 20, you can experience dining in the dark at several Miami Beach restaurants where guests will either don masks or will dine in a dark room, like at Escopazzo,on Thursday October 21, 7:30 p.m (click here for menu and information).  Facilitators from LightHouse for the Blind will train dining staff on how to comfortably and safely accommodate visually impaired diners.

Lights Out Miami Beach — a simulation that teaches people what it's like to experience the tastes, the sounds and the energy of a great restaurant without ever seeing it. — is part of the weeklong Ability Explosion series of special events held in Miami Beach designed to increase awareness about disability.  

To find out about the restaurants prix fixe meals with menus, prices, and seating times:   http://www.abilityexplosion.org/ash/lights-out-miami-beach/

Mandarin Oriental, Miami will celebrate the luxury hotel’s 11 year anniversary on Friday, November 11, 2011 from 7pm to 10pm with a beach front affair. According to Feng Shui masters, November 11 (11.11.11) is the most auspicious date of the 21st century, a moment when the pillars of heaven and earth will be in balance.

Mandarin Oriental, Miami will pull out all the stops with a lion dance performance, music by a popular Miami DJ and performances by an electric violin trio.  The beach will be elegantly adorned with authentic oriental-style décor including Thai materials and fabrics.

The  Mandarin Oriental culinary team will prepare an array of festive dishes like Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce, Miso Shrimp, Korean Beef Empanadas, BBQ Spare Ribs, Chinese Roast Duck, Vegetarian Fried Rice, Wok specialties, an assortment of Dim Sum and a selection of delectable desserts.   The cost for the event is $80 per person in advance or $95 at the door, plus tax and gratuity and includes premium open bar.   RSVP    (305) 913 8358.  Mandarin Oriental, Miami is located at 500 Brickell Key Drive. 

Through November 30, Cascata Grille at the newly re-named resort Turnberry Isle Miami,  offers a three-course menu and bottle of wine for two people for $60, plus tax and gratuity. While at  Bourbon Steak Executive Chef Gabriel Fenton’s Fall specials list  crispy veal sweetbreads, as well as a parsnip soup with local royal red shrimp in addition to his regulat menu.  Turnberry Isle Miami,19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, Florida  33180 (786) 279-6521 www.Turnberryislemiami.com

trulucks-stonecrabclaws 1Stone Crabs are back. The seven-month season for the sweet tasting and plump delicacies so characteristic of South Florida runs from October 15th to May 15. What’s comforting to know is that the rules for harvesting the claws — they make up half the weight of the whole crab and are the only part of the crab that is consumed — are very strict. Only one claw may be removed and grows back! and egg bearing females are not allowed to be declawed.

After the crabs are captured in baited traps and hoisted onto the boats, they are measured and the small crabs are released into the water.  The others are declawed by carefully grabbing from the rear and twisting — four inches from the first joint to the tip is the minimum legal size — after which the crab is returned to water and the claw regenerates.  It takes between 12 to 24 months to reach legal size again.

Stone crab claws have become a trademark of South Florida thanks to Joe’s Stone Crabs restaurant that made them popular over 98 years ago, together with their inimitable mustard sauce. Today, they are served in most high-end steak and seafood restaurants.

Photo: stone crabs, Truluck

On October 21, 22 and 23  at 7pm.The Biltmore’s Fontana Restaurant will host three chefs from the Spanish Paradores.  

The Spanish Paradores offer luxury accommodations in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings throughout Spain and  are renowned for their architecture, fascinating history and most notably their exquisite cuisine which they will replicate at the Fontana Restaurant .  

Prix fixe menu is $49 per person (not including wine, tax or gratuity). Click  to see Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s menus:   R eservations 305-913-3200

On Saturday, October 22 from 10-1pm The visiting Paradores Chefs will teach a special session at the Biltmore Culinary Academy. The demo-style classes with tastings will allow guests to learn about regional Spanish cuisine. (Cost: 65) Reservations 305-913-3131

 

 

 

Peacock Garden Café in  Coconut Grove is now open for breakfast with a new menu of traditional favorites with a twist by Executive Chef Oscar del Rivero. Breakfast is served indoors or outdoors in the garden Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 am. A weekend brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 2:30 pm. Peacock Garden Café,   2889 McFarlane Road in Coconut Grove, adjacent to the SonestaHotel.    305.774.3332 www.peacockspot.com.

Throughout October, every Tuesday from open to close, all three locations of Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar will donate a percentage of their all-you-can-eat Taco & Tequila Tuesdays’ sales to breast cancer research via Susan G. Komen.  The all-you-can-eat tacos ($14.99 per person) include Rocco’s signature chicken, pork, steak, beef, mushroom, shrimp or mahi tacos  with all the fixings. The Drinks specials start at 7 pm including $5 tequila drinks & shots, $15 margarita pitchers, $3 Mexican beers & $6 vodka drinks.

5250 Town Center Circle,  Boca Raton, 561.416.2131; 224 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, 561.650.1001; 1313 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, 954.524.9550.   www.Facebook.com/RoccosTacos.

 

Throughout October, RA Sushi in South Miami and 24 locations nationwide will be offering a wine and sushi special and donate 100 percent of the profits from the sale of The ONEHOPE Wine and Pink Roll ($15) combination to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation® (NBCF).

The combo includes a glass of ONEHOPE California Chardonnay and the Pink Roll, which features shrimp, kani kama crab mix and sriracha combined with lettuce, avocado and cucumber wrapped in pink soy paper and served with a pink ribbon of strawberry sauce.

RA Sushi, 5829 SW 73rd St., South Miami is open for lunch  from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and dinner is served until 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and until midnight Thursday through Sunday. The bar is open until 1 a.m. or later. Happy Hour Monday through Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m.  www.RAsushi.com.


 

WholeFoods is testing lunchtime delivery for the month of October: Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pre-register with a Credit Card Authorization Form. Place orders at least 1.5 hours in advance. Call 305-938-2800 , press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, then press 9 followed by 205 and the # key to place your lunchtime order with a Prepared Foods Supervisor.

To mark National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Fontainebleau’s restaurants: Gotham Steak, Hakkasan and Scarpetta will offer special $39 three-course prix fixe The “Bleau Goes Pink” dinner menus    Sunday – Thursday throughout October with wine pairings for an additional $20 or $30.  A portion of sales will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.  Reservations at Gotham Steak, Scarpetta, or Hakkasan,   877.326.7412.    www.fontainebleau.com.

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar’s (WKB)  Chef Miguel Aguilar is now offering a menu of global-Latino flavors.  The new dinner and lunch menu list a variety of small plates, priced at $5 - $16, starting with black bean soup, salads,  roasted peppers hummus;  chicken ropa vieja empanadas; clams and mussels in Cantimpalo chorizo broth;  fried calamari, and skewers: chicken with grilled scallions and chipotle aioli; juicy skirt steak with chimichurri; shrimp with aji amarillo vinaigrette and octopus with black olive tapenade.

Under meat, fish and poultry entrees  there’s braised short rib with sautéed spinach and herb salad; pork tenderloin with apple-jicama slaw; scallops with crispy polenta, tomatoes and feta, and pan seared snapper with corn salsa and a delicate fennel herb salad.  Veggie small plates include roasted mushrooms with rosemary and garlic; Brussels sprouts with bacon and caramelized onions; crispy chorizo fingerling hash brown potatoes, and fried maduros (bananas) with queso fresco and a touch of crema de nata.

Desserts, $7, include coconut upside down cake with whiskey caramel sauce; mojito sabayon with mint syrup; chocolate bread pudding with crème Anglaise, and fresh, frozen berries with champagne sabayon.

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is open for dinner, Monday – Saturday, 5 p.m. - midnight; bar open until 1 a.m.  Happy Hour Fridays, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., live music also on Fridays, from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, surrounded by Wynwood Walls murals. WKB will reopen for lunch service this fall. 2550 N.W. 2nd Avenue. Street parking and valet available.   305-722-895 . www.wynwoodkitchenandbar.com.

On September 29, from 10 am to 2 pm, Four Seasons Hotel Miami will host a job fair to hire 35 employees for Edge, Steak & Bar, a new restaurant stated to open late November on the 7th floor of the hotel.

Positions range from restaurant host and hostesses to servers, runners and bartenders to assistant manager/sommelier.       Four Seasons Hotel Miami/6th floor Miami meeting room, 1435 Brickell Avenue, Miami, Florida 33146

Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., through September, The Forge’s Executive chef Dewey LoSasso offers a Miami Spice Brunch for $22.

The menu includes a snapper and mahi mahi Bloody Mary ceviche, salad and fresh berries  with vanilla yoghurt, followed by entrees of Forge French toast with sautéed apples, mangoes and maple syrup; Eggs Benedict over butter bialy and Taylor ham; Grilled salmon with basil mash and heart of palm salad and Three mushroom risotto with truffle oil. For dessert: lemon Panna cotta and Rum risotto rice pudding. The cost: $22 per person. Buffet and mimosas are $20 additional charge per person. The Forge, 432 Forty-First Street, Miami Beach 305.538.8533 

 

 

Plates range from $12 to $58 with dinner served Sunday through Thursday from 7pm to 11pm and Friday and Saturday from 7pm to Midnight. A three-course seasonal menu for $55 is also available daily.

The Setai is located at 2001 Collins Avenue on South Beach. Reduced valet parking is available for diners; reservations (305) 520-6400,  setaidining@ghmamericas.com.

www.setai.com

 From November 30 through December 4, 2011 in conjunction with the contemporary art fair Art Miami, the Mandarin Oriental, Miami will feature work from some of China’s most exciting contemporary artists, in an exhibition curated by Brian A. Dursam, director of The Lowe Museum. 

Mandarin Oriental, Miami will host an exclusive preview on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m. in the hotel’s atrium lobby to benefit The Lotus House Women’s Shelter, which offers sanctuary for homeless women and infants most in need in downtown Miami.

Guests staying at Mandarin Oriental, Miami will receive access to the Art Miami lounge, VIP fair amenities, a beautiful Mandarin Oriental Art Book and complimentary shuttle service to Art Miami.  Room rates are from USD 459 per night. 

For more information or reservations, call (305) 913 8288 or visit www.mandarinoriental.com.

On Wednesday, September 14th SoLita Italian Restaurant and The Parlor Lounge is introducing a new concept, SOLITA IN THE DARK, the first in a series of dinners where guests will taste, smell, even feel their food to figure out what they are eating and drinking as they dine completely in the dark on a menu of house-made specialties prepared by Chef Anthony “Radar” Risoli.      Servers (with the aid of night vision goggles) will help guests stabilize their food and drinks.   Prior to entering the darkened VIP room, guest will be asked about any food allergies, dietary restrictions or extreme dislikes

For the premiere event September 14th , SoLita Delray will be offering only one seating at 8:00 p.m. and dinner will cost $59.00 per person (does not include drinks, tax or gratuity).  Reservations are required and availability is limited,   call 561-899-0888 SoLita Delray, 25 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach.  www.solitaitalian.com.

racks - local fish tacoDuring September, Chef/Partner Patricio Sandoval added a special taco created by Chef Andrew Balick - chef de cuisine at The DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach - to the menu at Mercadito Midtown to benefit Share Our Strength. This is part of  Tacos for Strength —a national campaign which connects 12 acclaimed chefs nationwide with Mercadito restaurants in New York, Chicago and Miami.

Chef Balick's taco marks the twelfth chef-designed creation in as many months, and the third featured at Mercadito Midtown (previous guest chefs included Michelle Bernstein of Michy's and Sra. Martinez and Michael Schwartz of Michaels Genuine).

Chef Balick's taco with braised lamb shank, curried Greek yogurt, pickled minted-carrot salad and crispy shoestring potatoes will be available throughout September at all Mercadito locations nationwide. The cost is $16 for an order of four tacos. Five percent of sales generated from his taco will be donated to Share Our Strength, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger by 2015.

Mercadito Midtown in Miami's Midtown district,  3252 NE 1st Avenue is open seven days a week for Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Dinner from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 5 to 11 p.m. Thursdays, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Saturday  and Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. www.mercaditorestaurants.com/midtown/ (786) 369-0430

 


Just as personal chefs have carved out a noticeable niche in the small business realm in recent years, schemers are getting better and better as technology empowers the smarter ones with ease of access into tons of citizens’ personal information.

If you’re a personal or private chef like I am, you may be the next victim of email swindlers who have suckered many a culinary professional into unintentionally giving away thousands of dollars.


I was given a referral last week to a man named “Luis Correa” who wanted private chef service for his family while “vacationing for seven weeks in Coral Gables.”  While the email was written in imperfect English, typical of fraudulent emails, Mr. Correa explained he was “an independent Mechanical Engineer by profession,” and that he was born and schooled in Colombia.  He was contacting me from “Stirling in Scotland,” where he was apparently on contract.  Furthermore, Mr. Correa stated that I might have trouble understanding his accent, because “Not quite long [he] started learn English.”  Fair enough.


Mr. Correa continued by stating he wanted to hire someone “good and friendly so we can have a better relationship and understanding.”  To make it sound even more believable, he concluded by posing questions that a legitimate client should ask, such as “Do you have liability insurance?”; “Do you have any references?”; “What is your cooking background?”; and “Are you affiliated with a professional organization?”

These questions didn’t come off as red flags per se.  So I decided to respond to the e-mail, careful about what I disclosed.  I would answer only his relevant queries and mention my areas of expertise, hoping to see where it would lead.  I also made a point to mention that my prices were based on a number of different factors, and I asked him what he was expecting to pay each week.

Mr. Correa began his next reply with, “I went through the menu with my wife, it is okay by us and your charges is [sic] okay by us as well...”  Funny, but I hadn’t included any specific menu items in the previous email, only the various cuisines I am well-versed in.  The skeptic in me was screaming not to take this any further.  The businessman in me rationalized the weirdness to be a product of the language barrier.

In the same email, Mr. Correa said he assumed I would need “some kind of money (deposit) to secure my services,” but mentioned that I would be unable to cash a check from overseas in the US.  He also had “an issue” with his credit card.  Apparently, someone had sent Mr. Correa “spammed email,” he “ignorantly provided [his] credit card information, [his] bank discovered it and [he] had them put on hold [his] credit card.”  Aww, poor guy.  To get around these financial hurdles, Mr. Correa explained that one of his “clients,” who is in the United States, would send me a check for $1,500 for the initial deposit, and he assured me all future payments would be from him in cash, at the beginning of each week.

At this point, Mr. Correa’s credibility should have been slightly diminished, but the $1,500 deposit had such a nice lilt that it was too much for me to resist in this bleak economy.  The master-manipulator he is, Mr. Correa had tapped into something deep within my psyche, and now I was the one ignorantly sending my personal information to some spammer across the globe.  I gave him my home address and told him to have his client cut me the check so I could get started with grocery shopping, even though it seemed ridiculous that a supposedly wealthy engineer would only carry one credit card.

Included with this email, I sent over my standard client questionnaire so I could gauge his family’s food preferences, if, in fact, they turned out to be real.  Instead of filling it out, Mr. Correa started his next email by saying he had his wife list the foods his family typically eats, broken down into different categories.  This included fruits, vegetables, and the the “DIARIES” [sic] category, which included “Low Fat Cottage Cheese, Whipped Cream Cheese, Cream Cheese, Condensed Milk, Fat Free Cream Cheese, Colby, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese Curd Parmesan, Provolone, Fat Free Yogurt, Soy Milk, Buttermilk, Gruyère, Explorateur.”  I was also informed the Correas do not eat “pork meat,” either, but they enjoy most fish and poultry.

To conclude his email, he warned that he “personally dislike[s] Chinese foods, Mayonnaise, Asparagus, Soft drinks, Beets and Arugula,” and that “[w]e don't eat British cuisines as much, we will enjoy Mexican cuisines (almost the same with Barbados ones), French cuisines, Italian and American Cuisines.”  He instructed me to develop a sample menu for the first week, an exciting prospect for any chef and I started Googling some recipes for Barbados’ cuisine.  Meanwhile, I was already imagining what the scenic drive to his luxury vacation home would be like each morning.

After sending him a sample menu I put some time into constructing, I went to sleep, confident and excited about the possibilities this new, big-shot client would bring me.  But, the following morning, all of that positivity was down the drain:  Mr. Correa’s next message was so sketchy I was finally convinced this had to be a hoax.

He began by asking me for “a cell phone number where [he] could reach [me] anytime (24/7).”  That’s odd -- he should have already had it from the signature lines in my previous emails.  He went on to give me some urgent spiel about how the US client who would be paying my deposit just informed him he was going out of town the next day, and he had asked this client to make a check out to me and also to a chauffeur.  As Mr. Correa emphasized, “Every business requires deposit for commitment.”  Since he had not yet found a suitable chauffeur for the job, he wanted to see if he could have his client cut me one big check for an amount that would cover both my deposit and one for the chauffeur.  Then, “trusting in me,” he wanted me to be responsible for paying the chauffeur-to-be once he found a suitable choice.

Wait a second...what?

Obviously, this message was a major buzzkill,

Up until this point, I had only done minor due diligence on this Correa fellow, with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn yielding little to no results.  But since I just joined a national organization for personal chefs, I decided to peruse the message boards for anything I could find.  As soon as I clicked in the forum for “Email scams and alerts” I found a post entitled “Scam?: Luis Correa.”  My heart sank as I clicked the link. It was now being official that I had been reeled in close to the edge by an Internet “phisherman.”

The way this scam works: the con man makes contact with a chef and gains his or her trust.  Then, he offers to pay by check, but somehow finds a way to overpay (in this case, Mr. Correa’s chauffeur story).  The check, which is counterfeit, would then, ideally, be deposited into the naive chef’s bank account.  When the check eventually bounces a few days later, the chef is left to foot the bill for the difference he withdrew to make the “payback.”

At least six chefs on the message board had been contacted by “Luis Correa,” with others receiving similar emails from fictitious persons such as “Paul Klee” (who is actually a dead Swiss-German painter) and “Clement Mycio.”  Somebody on the forum copied the email they received from Correa, and it was verbatim to the one I got, just with a different city involved for the “family vacation.”

Chefs, be careful out there.

If ever you are contacted by somebody looking for chef service, do as much background checking on them as possible.  If you can’t find any information online about the person in question, request that they send you some, if possible.  And, don’t, under any circumstances, give away any of your personal information to these people -- ever.  You never know what they’re going to attempt to do with it.


* Erik Mathes is a Personal Chef, In-Home Cooking Instructor,  blogger of  “Rantings of a Chef” at kitchencoach.tumblr.com.  and  founder of www.kitchencoachFL.com . He can be reached at kitchencoachfl@gmail.com

 

Food & Wine Talk Radio

 GELATO WORLD TOUR, RIMINI 2014, ITALY
 
Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
and Gelato Artisans:
James Coleridge, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
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Matthew Lee, Austin, Texas
Ahmed Abdullatif, Kingdom of Bahrain
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Wine On Harvest Moon-Spirits, Spells & American Lore, Sat 10/24, with Veronica Litton,Crown Wine & Spirits, Chef Julia Ning, Station 5 Table and Bar  

 
 

Chef Scott Conant: Scarpetta

 
 

Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect, The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

 
 

Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  

 
 

Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue

 
 

Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 

 

 

 

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