In South Beach, a Moke America beach buggy can be a chef’s best friend

Chef John Kreidich cruises South Beach in a Moke America buggy. Photograph by Nick Garcia.
Chef John Kreidich cruises South Beach in a Moke America buggy. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Our wheels are getting raves on South Beach. I know this because as we turn the corner at Ocean Drive and Fourth Street, the crowd on the terrace at Local House stops and stares at us.

We’re driving one of the only Moke buggies to make it to these shores. Originally a mid-20th-century British army vehicle, the Moke America has been refashioned to be electric, silent and eco-friendly.

Then again, John Kreidich, who is in the driver’s seat, has turned a few heads in his 35 years, with or without a hot car. The handsome and athletic chef’s tan complexion speaks to his daily routine: a morning walk for coffee followed by a swim in the ocean or workout at Muscle Beach. Kreidich eventually finds himself in front of the pizza oven at The Alley restaurant, where he crafts some of the beach’s best Neapolitan-style pies.

Chef John Kreidich of The Alley at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

The Moke is Quiet Enough to Hear What’s Happening Around You

It’s a routine we replicate in the Moke. “The drive is so quiet,” Kreidich observes as we cruise our way to South Beach’s newly upgraded gym on the sand at Ninth Street. We’re in a car, yet outside, right in the middle of things.

“It’s strange to so clearly hear the music from the hotels and restaurants, the wind through the palm trees,” Kreidich says, then adds an aside that pegs him as a true local: “… and those annoying squawking birds!”

Life almost went another way — a decidedly less alfresco way — for Kreidich. In college, he majored in advertising and communications, and even became an ad exec. But it was his college minor in culinary arts that brought him briefly to Tuscany, where he learned to make pasta. The gastronomic itch didn’t end with that sojourn.

“For six years I cooked as a hobby, working weekends for friends who’d opened restaurants. Then one day it just dawned on me. It’s a Saturday morning and I’m rolling gnocchi in a basement with a ceiling so low I can’t even stand up straight,” says the 6-foot-2 chef. “There I am, working for free and I’m loving it, dreading my office job. That was my epiphany.”

Behind the wheel of a Moke America beach buggy. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Secrets to Work and Life: Consistency and Contentment

That indelible moment a decade ago led him to last November: opening The Alley at The Betsy Hotel with none other than famed chef Laurent Tourondel, who oversees all of the hotel’s dining venues. The founder of the BLT and LT brands handed Kreidich his prized pizza recipes, including the sublimely decadent funghi and tartufo pie.

“Laurent taught me that, for consistency, every step in making pizza dough is important,” Kreidich says.

To watch him spinning dough as one of Miami’s most talented pizzaiolos is to witness real expertise — and true happiness. And the chef’s ride to work today reminded him anew of why he loves this delicious life.

A pair of pizzas created by Chef John Kreidich of The Alley in South Beach. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

More: A local’s guide to a staycation at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach