The Harry's Pizzeria Pop-Up Dinner series welcomes Chef Matt McCallister!

Jennifer Massolo joins MIAbites as a contributor with a professional resume that spans 20 years in the beverage industry. Her passion for craft spirits has led her to create The Liquid Projects , Spirited Sirens, and various CRAFT: Spirits and Beer events.

For the past couple of years, Harry’s Pizzeria, Chef Michael Schwartz’s slice of a spot in Miami’s Design District, has hosted a unique and dynamic pop up dinner series.  Rather than being given carte blanche, this pop-up welcomes visiting chefs to collaborate with The Genuine Hospitality group to create a casual, family-style menu, including a pizza.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended many of these dinners, interpreted by chefs such as Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, Marco Canora of Hearth, Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, Joey Campanaro of Little Owl and many more

Next Tuesday, July 1st marks Harry’s 24th Pop Up and welcomes Chef Matt McCallister, owner of FT33 in Dallas, who was recently lauded as one of 2014’s Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine Magazine.  Just over a month ago, I dined at FT33 in Dallas, also located in its Design District.  Opened in October 2012, the boutique-sized restaurant has an open kitchen like a stage from which the freshest of local ingredients are nudged into works of delicious art and accompanied by a cast of experts from the bar to the cellar.  It was one of the best meals I’ve had this year.  Chef McCAllister is all about the highest-quality products and treats them with respect. “I don’t print my menu until I know which ingredients are best that day,” he explains. “That should be the natural progression, rather than do the reverse, creating a dish and forcing whatever ingredients are available into it.”

When I heard Harry’s next pop would be the FT33 Pizzeria, it got me to thinking about the collaborative process of chefs and styles.  So, I posed some questions to Chef McCallister in anticipation:

Jennifer Massolo for MIAbites: You studied as an artist before becoming a chef and surely your dishes at FT33 reflect that, from the bespoke, earthenware plates to the meticulous presentation of the food.  Why did you decide to apply your artistic nature to a career as a chef?

Chef Matt McCallister: It just seemed to fit into who I am.  I spent a lot of my childhood cooking and gardening with my Mother, and worked in a traditional deli.  It was something that I have always been interested in.  To me, food is another outlet for artistic influences, but it just has a much smaller timeframe to enjoy it.  It is dynamic, and changes frequently. 

JM: What inspires you as a chef?

Chef: Changes in season.  I’m always looking forward to the changes in climate.  We always say that we can’t wait for the spring in the wintertime, but here we are in summer and I’m already thinking about the cool autumn months.

JM: What appealed to you when Michael Schwartz proposed the FT33 Pizzeria pop up in Miami?

Chef: Definitely cooking in a wood fired oven.  We used one when I worked with Stephan( Stephan Pyles of Stephan Pyles Restaurant in Dallas) , and I am looking forward to doing it again.  

Michael Schwartz is a badass, also.  I’ve been following him for quite some time.  Got his cookbook right when it came out.  We bumped into him in Aspen this weekend.  It was fun to meet him in such a special environment.

JM: Harry’s & FT33 are very different restaurants.  While fresh, seasonal ingredients are paramount to both, Harry’s Pizzeria is a casual, family-style pizzeria and FT33 modern and calculated.  What was the menu planning process like for the upcoming FT33 Pizzeria?

Chef:  It was very enjoyable.  We had several conference calls to talk about what will be available, and what is fresh.  They were all very receptive to what I had in mind for this dinner, and also guided me in the direction of what would be the best product available at the time in Miami.  At the end of the day, restaurants all have the same core vision.  We want our guests to feel comfortable, but also have the opportunity to see something new.  We also have guest chefs at our restaurant, and they are a lot of fun.  They energize the staff, and also give us a new outlook on how you approach a new menu item.

If there are any tickets left for the dinner, you can find them here:

But if you miss this dinner, Chef Michael Schwartz has more planned throughout the summer and the year and watch for news on MIAbites or check back on The Harry's Pizzeria website. 

Harry's Pizzeria 

3918 North Miami Ave. 

Miami, FL 

786 275 4963