James Beard nominated chef/restaurateur Jose Mendin, co-founder and creator of the Pubbelly restaurant group and its family of innovative restaurant concepts, along with partners Sergio Navarro, Juan F. Ayora and Maximiliano Silva, has announced the launch of Food Comma Hospitality Group (FCHG). Under this new banner, Mendin, Navarro (Development Director), Ayora (CEO/President) and Silva (Chief Operations Officer) are gearing up for one of their most ambitious projects to date: the November 2017 launch of Habitat, a new restaurant at 1 Hotel South Beach. In addition to creating and operating Habitat, FCHG will oversee in-room dining and breakfast for the acclaimed beachfront property, located at 2341 Collins Avenue. The same team remains in charge of the operations of Pubbelly Noodle Bar and Pubbelly Sushi.
“We are excited to work with an all-star culinary and operations team who has such a strong stake in the Miami market. At 1 Hotels, we seek to align ourselves with organizations/companies that benefit the community at large so this just seemed like a natural fit for us,” said Matt Erickson, President of Food & Beverage, SH Group.
“The formation of Food Comma Hospitality Group was the natural evolution of everything we started with the Pubbelly Boys,” noted Mendin. For Habitat, the chef is assembling a team of powerhouse chefs from around the world, all dedicated to delivering a genre-defying concept that will provide the perfect complement to the eco-conscious 1 Hotel’s sustainable ethos. Parlaying longtime friendships, the team has tapped internationally renowned, Michelin-starred Spanish chef Angel Palacios to serve as chef de cuisine. The relationship goes back more than 15 years, when Navarro first worked with Palacios as an intern at La Broche (2*) in Madrid and was part of the team that opened an acclaimed Miami version of the heavily lauded restaurant in 2002. Now, Palacios’ Miami return as a seasoned Spanish superstar is great news for foodies who mourned La Broche’s departure. Created after extensive research here and in Europe, the menu fuses culinary creativity with comfortable dining. Habitat’s menu will embrace all of the excitement and innovation that has fueled Spain’s culinary ascendancy while at the same time taking into account what it means to be a Miami Beach mainstay; something Mendin has down pat.
Says Mendin, “The opportunity to do something groundbreaking in Miami is one that we are very excited about. Habitat and many other ventures that Food Comma is currently developing are in many ways a big departure from what people think of when they think of Pubbelly. We’ve traveled the world, experiencing all kinds of food and assembled an incredible team of talented, professional chefs. We are ready to open people’s eyes to what we are capable of and to what restaurant dining can be – without pretense or BS, but something new using fresh simple quality ingredients and flavors.” Completing the Habitat team will be a dynamic duo behind pastries and pours. Acclaimed pastry chef Patricio Larrea from Spain, a protégé of world-renowned pastry chef Oriol Balaguer, will deliver the sweet side of Habitat with wildly-talented Mexican mixologist Pedro Sanchez overseeing its bar program, which will be elevated yet accessible.
“Miami is the crossroads,” adds Ayora. “For Habitat, we want to create something that embraces the region’s internationalism but is very much of this place and time. Flavors, hospitality, service and comfort will be the foundation of it all.”
Perched off the lobby of the gorgeous hotel in the former Beachcraft space, Habitat delivers a new meaning to the concept of “health food.” Masterful technique and an embrace of an open fire and wood-baked cookery will be the cornerstone of all hot dishes with an abundant raw selection encompassing everything from ceviches, tartares, tiraditos and shellfish from across the globe as well as vegetables and salads.
“Raw means more than ‘raw bar,’” quips Mendin. Tableside salad service will be redefined by the Habitat culinary team. A roaming salad cart will be a unique concept element, with a “salad sommelier” working with guests to handcraft unique salads to their taste made tableside or dish up menu specialties.
Habitat’s design reflects both FCHG and 1 Hotels’ commitment to sustainability with all-natural materials and craftsmanship. The feeling is both comfortable and unpretentious, soft blues and browns evoke the sea with hand-dyed textiles, natural woods, stone and warm lighting.