This week’s Chef in the Spotlight is the quietly talented Aussie, Simon Stojanovic Executive Chef of Altamare on Miami Beach. Stojanovic has racked up the experience miles on his resume having paid his culinary dues in countries most people only dream about visiting; his native Australia where he realized his cheffage calling; England where he began to build his foundation, France where he embraced the classic cooking techniques and the Caribbean where he discovered the Bajan culture, learning a respect for using locally sourced product, fish, spices, fruits and vegetables. Once the gastronomic wanderlust faded Stojanovic landed and planted himself firmly in what was to become a culinary hotbed of world class restaurants and talent, Miami. Stojanovic made a name for himself in local kitchens such as Nemo, Michael’s Genuine, and [opening] The Setai South Beach. Slow and steady wins the race, and over at Altamare, Chef Simon has patiently, classically, and diligently served exceptional food, plate after plate. This type of talent and hard work is rewarded with growth and expansion; continue reading our interview with Simon Stojanovic and find out how he and his business partner Claudio Gordano will further tickle (TIKL) our taste buds.
South Florida Food and Wine: In addition to being the Executive Chef at Altamare in Miami Beach you and your business partner Claudio Gordano will be opening TIKL raw bar & grill in the Brickell area of Miami very soon, tell us about your new concept and where the idea came from?
Simon Stojanovic: TIKL is going to be a small plate raw bar and grill with the menu being local ingredient driven whenever possible, is going to be totally separate from Altamare, different menu , different food. TIKL is going to be a dream come true as I’ve wanted to do a small plate restaurant like this since I arrived in Miami 12 years ago. The small plate concept is a style of dining that is gaining momentum in Miami and is a trend that is getting popular with the younger demographic
South Florida Food and Wine: When we spoke you mentioned your day off, and then you said sometimes you “come in” on that day. I think you’re going to have trouble answering the last question in this interview; but tell us Chef, you’re already working 6.5/7 days a week, how are you going to juggle cheffing at two restaurants in two heavily trafficked and different parts of town?
Simon Stojanovic: Well, I think the hardest part will be being in 2 places at the same time, as that will be impossible; I will have people in place I can trust and that I know will run the kitchen the way I want them run. I have already hired a chef to run Altamare when TIKL opens, he is starting with me this week, and we will work together for the next 3 months so he is up to speed. The same will go for TIKL people will be in place to run that kitchen as well.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where does your culinary inspiration come from?
Simon Stojanovic: My main inspiration comes from the local farms depending on what they are growing and what fish the fishermen catch, so my menu changes on a daily basis. I also look at what trends are trending and decide whether they are worth following or not.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite item on the Altamare menu?
Simon Stojanovic: I have two favs right now the first is the seared local flounder dish which I pair with a roasted butternut squash sauce, Swank Farms baby carrots, and their micro herbs. The Asian culture is one that uses everything in cooking, nothing is wasted. I have taken that philosophy and applied it to my cooking at Altamare. That being said the second of my favorite dishes right now is the oven roasted cobia collar with Vietnamese bok choy salad.
South Florida Food and Wine: Give us a hint about your new menu at TIKL raw bar & grill, any new favorites there?
Simon Stojanovic: I have written the menu for TIKL, several times. Let me tell you this, I have featured some of those dishes at Altamare to test them out and the response has been great. Other than that I don’t want to let too much out until we are open. Yes and I do have some favorites.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite dish to make at home? (when you’re there, because we know you’ve got that work-a-holic thing going on)
Simon Stojanovic: You know, the last thing I want to do when I’m home is cook! But I do. We try and eat healthy, I like to make stir-fry’s just because they are quick to make and the kids love it.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Simon Stojanovic: Meat pie from home
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would love to cook with and why?
Simon Stojanovic: I think I would like to cook with David Chang; He has a different view of food that is quite unique, very down to earth cooking utilizing everything that he’s got, a lot of simple techniques that really highlight the food.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Simon Stojanovic: Chocolate
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Simon Stojanovic: Citrus, I love the kick it brings to my dishes. Plus I love discovering new citrus fruits that I’ve never used before.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who would you most like to cook for? And why?
Simon Stojanovic: Jeff Bridges, he’s been one of my favorite actors for the longest time, since the original Tron movie.
South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at? (other than your own)
Simon Stojanovic: The Federal
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Simon Stojanovic: Well when I have some free time I like goof off with my kids. I am also restoring an 89 BMW e30.
Altamare 1233 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida 33139 (305) 532-3061
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