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Sundial: Michael Schwartz influenced our tastes while mentoring the next generation of local chefs

Chef Michael Schwartz at his restaurant "Amara at Paraiso" in Miami. Schwartz is a James Beard Award winner and been nominated yet again.
Courtesy of Michael Schwartz
Chef Michael Schwartz at his restaurant "Amara at Paraiso" in Miami. Schwartz is a James Beard Award winner and been nominated yet again.

Michael Schwartz has been in South Florida long enough to see our appetites change.

He opened what you might call Miami’s original gastropub more than 15 years ago. His restaurant Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink earned him one of the highest honors for a chef: a James Beard Award for the Best Chef in the South.

Then the neighborhood changed. Miami's Design District became Rodeo Drive. A gastropub knockoff opened in every neighborhood.

Schwartz evolved with the industry's changing landscape, while also remaining true to what made him different. He worked with local farmers to grow the food he wanted. Florida fisherman brought him fresh catches right off the boat.

His peers noticed. Young chefs wanted to work with him. Then they spun off their own restaurants. Twenty-five years after he left Philadelphia, Schwartz influenced the future of Miami’s local restaurants.

That’s one reason he’s been nominated for another James Beard Award.

The Outstanding Chef award that Schwartz’s up for this year goes to one of only 20 chefs in the country. The award honors those who have mentored the next generation, recognizing an individual who hasn’t just spent his life in the kitchen but has changed the appetites outside of it.

On the Feb. 8 episode of Sundial, he joined us to talk about his career and South Florida's evolving food scene.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with retired NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders. He traveled all across the world, covering stories from all seven continents—swimming with sharks, hanging off cliffs and even covering wars and conflict.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Stay in touch with us via text by joining our Sundial text club. Send us your thoughts, ideas or questions by texting the word “join” to 786-677-0767. You can also email us at sundial@wlrnnews.org.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.