Some of the country’s best plays come to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and now, so will some of the country’s best cuisine.
Chef Brad Kilgore, whose Wynwood restaurant Alter put the hipster haven on the national stage with his elaborate and beautiful cuisine, will take over as culinary director of the Arsht’s restaurant, renamed Brava by Brad Kilgore. It will be open to the public, not just ticket holders, on the second floor of the Ziff Ballet Opera House every night of a show beginning Sept. 30.
“They have world class facilities and they put on these amazing shows and now they want the full experience,” Kilgore said.
One look at a dish Kilgore has created is reason enough to understand why the Arsht Center wanted him to conceive its menus. When a plate arrives at a table at Alter, it’s OK to gasp. Kilgore’s dishes are a work of art — layered and stylized, bursting with flavors and presented on simple, white plates where the food is the star.
Now that star plays the main stage.
“Food can be theatrical,” said John Richard, president and CEO of the Arsht Center. “He has a strong point of view and that’s the exciting part of eating out or coming to a show.”
There will be two seating the night of a show, one for ticket holders before a performance, and another for the general public at 8:15 p.m., after the curtain goes up, Richard said. Dishes will be á la carte, as opposed to the previous restaurant concept, the fixed-price Prelude by Barton G.
Kilgore said he will oversee every dinner service at the Arsht, since it is 15 blocks from Alter, where he will return for the second half of service. Kilgore has contacted the former executive chef at Brickell’s Toscana Divino, Jeff Maxfield, to oversee his cuisine at the Arsht. Kilgore will also design pastries and baked goods sold before and after the show with the help of his pastry chef at Alter, his wife, Soraya. He will also design the Arsht’s catering and special events.
“I think we’re going to see something quite special,” Richard said.
Diners certainly have. Long before Kilgore was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant and Rising Star Chef at Alter, he had been learning under chefs whose skills border on visual and performance art. He created dishes at Chicago’s Alinea under Grant Achatz, where each course is like an act in a play.
In Miami, he continued a long tradition of star chefs at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental (James Beard honorees Michelle Bernstein, Clay Conley) and ran the kitchen for Jean George Vogerichten at J&G Grill at the St. Regis Bal Harbour.
For all the technique that goes into his cuisine — “food with no boundaries,” he calls it — it remains playful and simple, like the neon that spells out Alter at his industrial space tucked down a side street in Wynwood. It’s a rose amid a crack in the sidewalk.
And that’s the kind of meal he wants to prepare for show goers at Brava, which was redesigned 18 months ago. Reservations can be made online at www.arshtcenter.org/Brava or by calling 305-949-6722.
“We don’t want it to be stuffy,” Kilgore said. “We want you to have the full experience of how beautiful the arts center is, how well-thought-out the building is, along with a well-thought-out meal.”