One of the best chefs in the American South is in Miami.
Brad Kilgore, chef and co-owner of Alter, in Wynwood, has been named one of six finalists for the James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef: South, the committee announced Wednesday. He's the first Miami-area finalist for the award since Jeff McInnis made the so-called shortlist in 2013 after helping found Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in 2013. Winners will be announced May 7.
Kilgore now attempts to become the first James Beard Award winner since Michael Schwartz was named among the Best Chefs in America in 2010 for his landmark restaurant, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, which helped revitalize the design district. Kilgore was one of eight local restaurants and chefs named to the long list last month.
“We do something creative and outside the box. And it’s nice to know people recognize our hard work,” said Kilgore, a Kansas City native who has lived in Miami the past seven years. “Our city is a young city, but it’s a worldly city. To be part of this growth is really something.”
He has been on the James Beard Foundation's radar since he opened Alter in what was still an up-and-coming Wynwood in 2015. A Miami Herald reviewer gave his restaurant four out of four stars (Outstanding) months after opening that year.
It was only the beginning. Kilgore took over the high-end restaurant at the Arsht Center for the Performing arts, Brava by Brad Kilgore, and opened it to regular diners, not just theater goers. And he has been tapped to open not one but two new restaurants in the Design District, alongside world renowned chefs Joël Robuchon and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. There, he'll be sharing space with his wife, Soraya Kilgore, the pastry chef at Alter who opened a soft-serve ice cream parlor, MadLab Creamery.
Kilgore's cuisine delights in elegant, elevated gourmet dishes. His chef's tasting menu at Alter is a gustatorial playground with items such as his Soft Egg (sea scallop foam, truffle pearls, Siberian caviar) and duck grilled over South Florida pine cones to show off his skill and highlight local ingredients.
FOOD WRITER ALSO HONORED
Miami Herald Food Editor Carlos Frías also has been named a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award, recognizing excellence in covering the food industry.
Frías is one of three national finalists in the category of Local Impact for an award commonly referred to as the Oscars of the food world. Winners will be announced at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City on April 27. Frías is nominated for a body of work that comprises three stories.
“Farm to Chapel” told the story of a young Miami-born man of Indian and Muslim descent who started an organic farm at St. Simon’s Episcopal Church in Westchester. A second story highlighted a post-Hurricane Irma cookout in west Coconut Grove, where a high-end restaurant cooked for impoverished locals rather than let its supply of high-end inventory go to waste. Frías also chronicled the rise of Zak Stern, a secular Jewish baker who became the kosher king of Miami as Zak the Baker.
Miami Herald Staff