The Art of Plating: Chef Bradley Kilgore of Alter

Miami is still recovering from the over 50,000 art enthusiasts who clogged the roadways, causeways, buses, Metromovers and trolleys during this month's Art Basel and Miami Art Week,  and made getting even a simple dinner reservation next to impossible.

The creativity and art seemed to be everywhere and even though many of the talented artists may have packed up now and left the area, one artist has remained and set the bar pretty high during Art Basel / Miami Art Week for his creativity and artistic ability…in creating food!

Chef Bradley Kilgore, all of 27 years old, garnered some excellent reviews for his unique PopUp Dinners hosted at Miam Café and Boutique in Wynwood.

Chef Kilgore, formerly Executive Chef at J&G Grill at The St Regis in Bal Harbour, will be at the helm of Alter, Miami’s new casual chic restaurant planned to open in February 2015. 

The Alter PopUps, an intimate dinner hosted by Chef Brad, boasted a list of chefs in collaboration, which included Nina Compton, Chef Bee from Oishi Thai, George Rapicavoli from Eating House and Bret Pelaggi from Uvaggio.

In dining with Chef Kilgore at one of the PopUps, one couldn’t be impressed at not only his ability to create delicious dishes, but also his talent in constructing beautiful art…in the form of creative pairings and plating.  

The plate being his artist’s canvas, he has an eye for not only combining flavorful ingredients, but also colorful and decorative ones.

More than once, we overheard attendees utter the word “artist” associated with his creations, and numerous Twitter and Instagram posts from PopUp attendees referred to him as that as well. 

If you missed the dinners, enjoy the beautiful photos from the evenings and a quick You Tube video of his plating alongside Giorgio Rapicavoli of Eating House.

And watch for Alter opening in 2015.

MIAbites posed a couple questions about how he prepares for these dinners and what is his inspiration.

MIAbites:  How do you prepare the menu for these PopUp dinners?

These dinners were selected from a pre opening menu that I create for Alter. I chose different dishes from this menu to create a 4 course tasting menu that would be cohesive. Although Alter will be all la carte we will have a Tasting Menu option. 

MIAbites: And the creative plating?  What is the process? Do you sketch or write down the various steps?

Sometimes I sketch the platings and others I allow to come naturally.

MIAbites:  Do you practice the dish to make sure it comes out right and looks correct? 

There really isn't always a lot of practice that goes into each and every plate. Over my career I have developed techniques that are consistent and apply them to new items in different variations. A lot of time new dishes are the first time I have created it. We will spend time before the opening of the restaurant tasting and tweaking the dishes. Also when we are open every single dish will be practiced and each recipe weighed out to the gram so small adjustments for seasoning or acidity can be adjusted as necessary. 

MIAbites:  Many of your dishes require a lot of preparation ahead of time… how much time do you spend getting ready? 

This is a tough question. Some specific components can take days to develop, others much less time. It’s all about organizing your kitchen so you can keep the preparation feasible. 

MIAbites:  What was your favorite menu (or dish) this past Art Basel weekend, and can you describe the steps you went thru.

My favorite dish is either the "soft egg with bruleed scallop mousse, gruyere, chive, and truffle pearls" ( pictured below ) or the "pot au creme" with cajeta, tamari-soy and milk chocolate gelato, apricot jam, and candied nori"

The egg dish is like the 7th version that I have done and it keeps evolving for the better and the "pot au creme", was really fun to watch people eat it. It is a sweet dessert with savory and umami elements.

MIAbites: Unlike an artist, your creations are destroyed ( i.e. eaten ) every time… does that bother you?

Never! That is why I do this. Its how I express myself. My mother’s side of the family is all artists. I can’t draw a recognizable stick figure so I guess I have found my medium.

MIAbites:  What inspires you?  Is there a chef, living or dead    (or even an artist) that is an inspiration to how you cook or create?  

Many things can inspire the food; nature, colors, paintings, flavors, techniques. The possibilities of specific inspirations are endless.

MIAbites:  Any other thoughts or comments you want to share? 

We are very excited to open Alter in Wynwood, I am excited to see how far the clientele will let us go. We want to be able to provide a delicious, responsibly sourced, well thought out, and artistically presented, at an approachable price point. Highlighting Floridian products.