The Future of Miami’s Food Scene


By Lee Brian Schrager | January 30, 2018 | People

The term “foodie-in-chief” belongs to them: four icons who revolutionized the culinary scene in the 305 and transformed the city into an international dining destination. We gather at the Mondarin South Beach to chat about the past, the future and why iPhone don’t belong at the dinner table.


From left: Shareef Malnik, Michael Schwartz, Lee Brian Schrager, Henry Delgado and Cindy Hutson at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel.

Without question, Miami’s dining scene is expanding at lightning speed and has transformed into a garden of culinary opportunities. But to truly appreciate the city’s rapid growth as a culinary destination, I rounded up a few of the original influencers of our beloved South Florida food culture for a special roundtable conversation—a walk down memory lane and look at just how far we’ve come in the past 25 years. Cindy Hutson represents the original Mango Gang, a group of chefs responsible for championing a dining revolution here in Miami in the 1980s, and Michael Schwartz is widely recognized for leading a culinary crusade in Miami’s Design District. Also joining us is longtime Smith & Wollensky’s general manager Henry Delgado, who just led the waterfront hot spot through its 40th-anniversary milestone and renovation, and Shareef Malnik, who grew up flipping hash browns in The Forge’s kitchen and eventually took over operations from his father in the 1990s.

What are your most vivid memories of your earliest days on the dining scene in Miami?
Henry Delgado: It was just the Clevelander in the early ’90s and the News Cafe. Then we came down for Smith & Wollensky’s, Nemo’s and Joe’s, of course, and that was it in my neck of the woods.


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