Travel

Miami International Airport’s new Centurion Lounge will feature food from chef Michelle Bernstein

The welcome desk at the Centurion Lounge in New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
The welcome desk at the Centurion Lounge in New York’s LaGuardia Airport. American Express

Certain travelers flying through Miami International Airport will soon have the option of taking in a meal from chef Michelle Bernstein before boarding their planes.

American Express has tapped Bernstein to create the menu for its newest Centurion Lounge, opening early this summer in the airport’s North Terminal, which services American Airlines and Qatar Airways.

“I get to create salads and fun appetizers for those who just want to nibble as they work and main courses with vegetables and a heavier starch side with very little limitation,” Bernstein said to the Miami Herald. “As always, I just want it to be consistent, bold in flavor and make someone feel sated but not too full to board a plane and still have a good, relaxing flight.”

Miami International will be the fifth U.S. airport with a Centurion Lounge, following Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dallas-Forth Worth and New York-LaGuardia. The high-end clubs are accessible to American Express cardholders for $50 a day and free for those with AmEx Platinum cards, which carry annual fees of about $450.

All of the lounges feature complimentary food from big-name chefs, including Scott Conant (Las Vegas) and Dean Fearing (Dallas), as well as cocktails from Jim Meehan of New York’s PDT. The 8,000-square-foot Miami space will be ring-shaped, with tarmac views and, in a nod to South Florida’s coastal vibe, a floor-to-ceiling textural wall that resembles a wave.

“Miami is a top travel destination for our card members — it’s an energetic city with great food, entertainment and plenty of ways to relax,” said Lisa Durocher, American Express’ senior vice president of consumer charge cards and benefits. “The lounge reflects Miami’s vibrancy with our approach to amenities and features.”

Bernstein, a James Beard Award-winning chef, currently operates two restaurants in South Florida — Seagrape in Miami Beach and Crumb on Parchment in Miami — and is set to unveil her newly conceptualized Miami flagship restaurant next month. Last month she began a partnership to create healthy, flavorful foods for people undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Memorial Cancer Institute.

Bernstein also is part of Delta Air Lines’ roster of celebrity chefs, but she said her Centurion Lounge menus — not yet finalized — will have more freshly prepared elements than those served in the air.

“Cooking on the ground in the lounge gives us the opportunity to actually mix the salad in front of the guests, serve them a big cast-iron skillet of bread pudding that they can spoon onto their plate, or give them an individual serving of Michy’s creamy polenta with a just-poached egg,” she said.

“One thing I am very excited about making is my mother’s braised chicken thighs with pizza spices, braised greens and confit potatoes.”

Evan S. Benn is Miami Herald food editor. Follow him on Twitter: @EvanBenn.

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