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Chef de Cusine Richard Gras
Lifestyle

Richard Gras: Chef de Cuisine
J&G Grill at Saint Regis Bal Harbour

By Whitewall

December 4, 2012

The St. Regis Bal Harbour opened last March and Yabu Pushelberg’s design offers a modern take on the iconic luxury hotel. It is home to a contemporary art collection, curated in part with the local gallery Rosenbaum Contemporary. The resort also boasts J&G Grill, headed by Chef de Cuisine Richard Gras. We spoke with Gras about the restaurant’s menu inspiration, how he takes note of the seasons even in South Florida, and about the special black and white truffle experience he has in store for guests this week.

WHITEWALL: What kind of culinary experience did you want to create at J&G Grill for the St. Regis Bal Harbour?

RICHARD GRAS: I want to create a unique and memorable dining experience. We do this by offering Jean-George signature items, seasonal menus, seasonal ingredients (ie: White Truffles), local produce, fish, and meats. My main goal is to create an experience like none other in Miami.

WW: How does the location of Bal Harbour affect the J&G Grill menu?

RG: The location does inform the menu in some respects. We have a unique clientele which we of course want to cater to.

WW: How would you describe greater Miami’s food scene? Do you find inspiration in the city’s cuisine?

RG: Miami has a very young but energetic food scene that is constantly evolving. Recently we’ve seen a lot of New York Chefs coming to Miami, and with them they are bringing new talent to the area that might not have been here otherwise. I think this is only making the culinary experience in Miami stronger and more exciting.

I pull a lot of my inspiration from the seasons and I read quite a bit too. I recently have been finding inspiration in David Chang’s Lucky Peach as well as a wonderful culinary publication, Art Culinaire. There are a handful of restaurants in Miami that are really doing some creative cuisine and I do pull some inspiration from them. I feel it is important to be up to speed on what other chefs are doing, it keeps me on my toes!

I also look to the seasons for inspiration. I know that sounds a little funny for Miami, but I grew up in upstate New York, went to school and lived in California, where I was constantly inspired by the changing seasons, and this is something I’ve brought with me to Miami.

WW: Is there an ingredient you find yourself preoccupied with lately?

RG: Right now I love garnet sunchokes, which are more commonly known as Jerusalem artichokes. I absolutely love them. I have been using them for the last few weeks in a few different iterations, really trying to catch the essence of them. I think I captured it and you will see it on an upcoming menu!

WW: What is your favorite current dish to make on the menu?

RG: Right now I love to make the Butternut Squash Soup. It’s really fun and simple but it highlights the squash so well. I just love it.

WW: For those visiting from out of town during Art Basel Miami Beach, what would you recommend?

RG: If someone is visiting the restaurant for the first time, I always encourage them to have the truffle pizza. It’s a signature item and it’s amazing and definitely must have. If they have been here before, we are currently offering an incredible white truffle risotto. It has a parmesan essence and white truffle shaved tableside. It is absolutely amazing.

Plus, I will be offering a special black and white truffle experience during the week of Art Basel.

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