Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s plans to turn their Estefan Kitchen restaurant into a social and entertainment hub in Miami’s Design District is set to get one of its biggest workouts Friday.
Estefan Kitchen will be the site of a Tribute to Puerto Rico, a celebration of the island’s musical, culinary, fashion and artistic contributions on Friday.
Post-Hurricane Maria, “this will be the first time in two years something fabulous is happening for one of the largest communities in South Florida,” said Susana Baker, the chair of the arts of the Puerto Rican Chamber and one of the event’s organizers.
She hopes this first Tribute to Puerto Rico will turn into an annual event at Estefan Kitchen and its grounds.
Expect the true flavors of Puerto Rico, organizers promise.
Chef Jose Mendin of Pubbelly and the new La Placita, a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef, Southeast (and recently one of People magazine’s “sexiest chefs in America”), and Chef Brian Dominquez, managing director of Casa Borinquen, teamed to prepare the menu.
There’s a lobster ceviche appetizer, marrying lobster, lemon, coconut milk and yuzu — a pickled pineapple served in the coconut by Mendin.
The entree, dubbed a Boricua Flavorful Tower, features pork shoulder picnic, pastel, and pigeon pea rice served on a shredded plantain nest.
The dessert is creamy coconut pudding served with a passion fruit sauce.
Musical performers include Lefty Perez aka “El Salsero” and Plenatrium’s Bomba y Plena percussion outfit.
Perez plans to perform a tune or two from his album, “Mi Puerto Rico.”
Gloria and Emilio Estefan won’t be performing.
This is, after all, a tribute to Puerto Rican culture.
But the Miami couple — Gloria was the first Cuban-American to earn a Kennedy Center Honors distinction in 2017 — have long championed the culture in South Florida, where a reported 400,000 Puerto Ricans call home.
“We cannot thank enough Estefan Enterprises for their generosity, not just on July 12th, but for the Estefans’ generosity since the beginning to ease the devastation of Maria, from filling up planes continuously to sending much-needed supplies to the devastated island, they will always be remembered by the Puerto Rican community,” Baker said in a statement.
Art and fashion
Fashion designer Lisa Thon, of San Juan, will bring her models in for a stroll along the catwalk just outside the restaurant.
In 2006, Thon was the first Puerto Rican designer to feature a design at New York’s Fashion Week. She has also showcased at Miami Fashion Week.
Cherilyn Marrocco, artistic director of MAD Performing Arts promises 30 performers — ages 8 to 18 — from her North Miami academy in a performance called “Carnival de Barrio.”
And Puerto Rican visual artist Erni Vales will showcase his famed graffiti art, including his painting of Gloria Estefan. Vales developed a three-dimensional graffiti style. Vales also designed a series of watch faces for Invicta.
Honoring Maurice Ferré
An emotional highlight of the event: an award presentation to recognize the lifetime achievement of former Miami mayor, Maurice Ferré.
Now 84, Ferré is expected to attend to accept his honor, Baker said. His wife Mercedes will also be there and his son Carlos, “who looks identical and sounds like him,” just flew in in from Boston for the occasion, Baker added. Miami’s current mayor, Francis Suarez, will be there, too, she said.
If you haven’t booked your seat at one of the restaurant’s tables you might have to savor the $50 three-course menu’s aroma from your neighbors’ plates.
“Every chair, every nook and cranny has been booked — within two hours,” Baker said, excitedly.
The musical performances, the art and fashion displays and shows, are all free, spilling out of the restaurant’s doors and into the large open-air mall’s courtyard.
If you go
What: Tribute to Puerto Rico
When: 6:30-midnight July 12
Where: Estefan Kitchen at 140 NE 39th St., in Miami’s Design District.
Information: Call 786-843-3880 for info.