Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NO WINE WHINE AT ZED

By Bill Citara
Dec 12, 2008


I had dinner last weekend at the new ZED451 in Boca. It’s a modern American take on the Brazilian churrascaria, with an impressive roster of appetizers and side dishes on several “Harvest Tables” and white-jacketed cooks threading through the dining room bearing skewers of variously marinated meats and poultry. The food was actually pretty good. Nothing on the Harvest Tables (it makes me feel kinda silly to say that but that’s what they call ‘em) looked or tasted old or tired, and for the most part the meats, poultry and occasional seafood item were well-cooked and tasty. I’ll have a lot more details in the March-April issue, but what I wanted to blog about here was ZED’s wine list. There are certainly wine lists that are larger and more comprehensive, encyclopedic tomes full of haute producers and ancient vintages, with prices to match. But ZED’s list is a good example of the tight yet broad selection of wines carefully chosen to partner nicely with the cuisine, also one that sprinkles a few lesser-known jewels in there and offers diners the chance to experiment without breaking the bank.

First, there’s a selection of six wine flights, from Champagne and full-bodied reds to off the drinkin’ path wines and interesting blends. Flights consist of three two-ounce pours and cost from $11 to $15. There’s also a roster of more than 25 wines by the glass, as well as about 75 different bottles. By-the-glass prices range from $5 to $22 and bottle prices from $20 to $1,500 for a 1998 Chateau Latour.

What I like about this list is that many of the really cool wines are available by the glass or in a tasting flight. For some reason this is the exception rather than the rule in local restaurants, who wines by the glass tend to be mostly all the usual suspects pours about as interesting as cold cream of wheat. So what are some of these cool wines? I hear you ask. There’s the terrific 2005 Bearboat Pinot Noir, a wine that’s everything I want in a California (Russian River Valley) Pinot—fruit that’s more generous and immediately drinkable than many Burgundies but with lighter body, more complexity and a distinct terroir, yet none of the over-oaked, overripe, overly alcoholic character of far too many California Pinots these days. In the same style and equally delectable is another of California’s finest Pinot Noirs, the 2005 Bouchaine. Don’t miss either the 2005 Bouchaine Chardonnay, an exquisite blend of lush fruit and steely acidity.

There’s also the 2004 Veramonte Primus, a robust blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere, the national grape of Chile and one that gives a lovely smoky-dusky edge to its fruitier partners. Other wines you don’t see every day and are worthy exploring are the 2006 Bonterra Viognier, 2005 Clos du Bois “Marlstone” and the elegant, Bordeauxstyle 2005 Justin “Isosceles.”

They’re all good. Check ‘em out.

Bill Citara's article will be published in the March/April issue of BOCA Magazine and on his blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

LUNCH BUNCH

After a stroll through Mizner Park with all your shopping behind you, stop into ZED451 and dine until your hearts content. Starting tomorrow, we're open for lunch so be sure to come on in and see what we're serving...

A sneak peek at the lunch menu for Wednesday, December 10:
prosciutto wrapped grilled jumbo shrimp salad 16
seared rare ahi tuna salad 16
linguica sausage sandwich 12
grilled, marinated portobello mushroom sandwich 12
451 blue cheese burger 12
ahi tuna steak burger 15
pei mussels 15
fondue 15
short rib sliders 15
ocean harvest 65
fried sweet potatoes 2
potato salad 2
wild rice salad 2
spicy fruit salad 2

Thursday, December 4, 2008

OUR DOORS ARE OPEN

What are you doing for the holidays? Be sure and join in on our fun whether it be a gathering with friends, family or co-workers....we've got you covered all season long.

LUNCH (begins December 8, 2008)
Monday through Saturday from 11:30am-2:30pm

CHRISTMAS EVE
serving lunch from 11:30am-2:30pm
dinner from 4:30-10pm
lounge open until midnight

CHRISTMAS DAY
serving from 3:30-10pm
lounge open until midnight

NEW YEARS EVE
serving lunch from 11:30-2:30pm
dinner from 4:30-11pm
lounge open until 2am

Enjoy dinner for two which includes a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Champagne for $150 a couple. Indulge in lobster bisque, snow crab claws, oysters on the half shell, Tobiko caviar, assorted mixture of miniature desserts and much more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

WORD OF MOUTH

It's been two weeks and the buzz continues.

In conversation with event extraordinaire, Angela Colicheski, she gave me an update on what's been going on at ZED451 in Mizner Park. She is getting calls for private events and people are booking their holiday parties without even having seen the space. More updates are as follows:

Guests' favorite dessert: Butterscotch Pudding
What they're saying: Guests love the concept as there is no place in Boca where you have the attention of a table side chef. "You get so much food and it's such a great value," says many return guests.
Bar scene: people are coming out of the wood works. Younger people are congregating in the bar as they didn't have a cool, hip place to go before. ZED451 is attracting a younger, hip crowd.
Decor: Everyday there is something new; the outdoor patio is donned with Persian rugs, lanterns, Asian benches and tufted cushion-side tables. There are colorful pillows and tables out front made of recycled tires. The decor is reason enough to come and hang out here!
Who's coming by: Apparently Tony Bova of Bova, Mario's and Bova Prime has dined at ZED451 3 times in almost one week. Guess that speaks volumes, or is good word of mouth?

Join us this week for Thanksgiving. If not Thursday, we'll see you over the weekend for your favorite cocktail.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

HEAR WHAT THEY'RE SAYING...

video

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"The Scoop" by Rebecca Coleman

SouthFlorida Society.com: November 10, 2008

The latest addition to Boca Raton's restaurant scene took over the town this week! A series of grand opening celebrations at ZED451 in Mizner Park, benefited several local charities including the Boca Raton Museum Art, Tri County Humane Society and the Junior League of Boca Raton. Wednesday was press preview day and Bryan Lockwood, president of Tavistock Restaurants, took Cary and I on a personal tour. The Boca ZED451 is the first one to open outside of Chicago. Orlando is next. Tavistock owns luxury golf course communities in the Orlando area and Tiger Woods is a resident!

The cuisine at ZED451 is described as "modern upscale grilling." Fire grilled steaks, ribs, fish, poultry and game are served tableside by the chefs who created them! The restaurant has its own vocabulary too. Try "Harvest Table" as far from the usual salad bar as you can imagine! The design of the restaurant pleases the eye too-- contemporary uses of traditional woods and clever lighting with a secret-which I won't divulge-see if you guess! Don't forget to check out the romantic tout-door patio and the heavenly cocktails. Blueberry/thyme martinis and blackberry mojitos were my favorites--perfect Florida concoctions! And finally, a wine room with a fireplace is the perfect venue for corporate meetings--yes imagine that--a meeting room with windows! ZED451, located in the former Cartoon Museum building at the south end of Mizner Park opens Monday, November 10th. Call 561-393-3451 for reservations.

Sun Sentinel: Try everything in one evening at ZED451

Forum Publishing Group/Dave DiPino November 12, 2008

At ZED451, a restaurant with revolutionary ideas taking root in Boca Raton's Mizner Park, don't expect the ordinary.

ZED451 has no menus.

What they do have is perhaps the best display of ambience — the chandelier over the center round bar cost $33,000 — and some of the most unique cuisine creations from harvest tables, chef selections, market-side dishes and drink creations, combining the popular South Florida juicing craze with finest spirits.

Starting with the menu, a prix-fixe dinner is $55 and includes unlimited offerings from the Harvest Tables stocked with premium Italian meats and French cheeses. A nightly special list of chef's selections ranges from Tandori chicken to roasted lamb, or features seafood selections such as Scallop Ceviche, Kona (Hawaiian fish) Ceviche, lobster, crab, and really whatever the chef has whipped together that day with the best organic and high-quality ingredients the world has to offer.

Restaurant patrons who choose the prix-fixe dinner can also enjoy Market Side Dishes, such as soups: lobster bisque, mussels with white wine and garlic, Braised Short Rib Sliders with fried onion straws, and a wide variety of meats, vegetable creations and salads. "The beauty of our menu is that there is no risk," said Steve Byrne, director of culinary operations. "You can try something new like antelope or wild boar sausage and if you like it, have more. If not, move on."

To dine solely from the Harvest Table it's $33, and dinner for children 6 to 10 years old is $27.50; under 5 years old is complimentary.

For drinks, try a trip to the wine cellar located in the central interior of ZED451. More than 100 wines and champagnes are available. A trip to the bar is also well worth it. The bar has all the spirits but doesn't display them flamboyantly like "common themes" at other area bars. Instead it's a juice bar, where the bartenders juice your drink creations to order. Try a Pineapple Martini or Blackberry Mojito. Trust me on this one, you won't be disappointed. Each dish and drink at ZED451 is hand-crafted to perfection by trained culinary and beverage staff.

I feel like for $55, I got to try everything. The Braised Short Rib sliders were tender and cooked to perfection, the lobster bisque was different because instead of loading the bisque with sherry cooking wine they introduced fine brandy liquor giving the bisque a more distinct taste that woke up taste buds that may have become a bit board with local cuisine. Dishes such as Scallop Ceviche, shrimp creations featuring rock shrimp, tiger shrimp, seafood doused in fine ingredients and tasty five-star cuisine sauces tickle the taste buds. For desserts, Dirty Banana Sundae, Key lime pie, Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream or Chocolate Tartlets with Cabernet Caramel are available for $10.

A brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays is $33 per adult or $22 for children 6 to 10 years old. ZED451 originated in Chicago. Today, they've expanded to Boca Raton with future sites in Orlando and Boston. This is dining where you pick the price, take control and eat what you want.

Now, go and spoil your taste buds!

Prix-fixe menu: *****
Wine and spirits: ****
Desserts: ***

Monday, November 10, 2008

AN EVENING TO REMEMBER










DRUM ROLL PLEASE...

The day has arrived and today is the GRAND OPENING of ZED451 Boca Raton.

The days leading up to today have been a whirlwind of planning, organizing and making sure everything is in place. People from all over the country flew in to experience what is about to "hit" Mizner Park. The space is chic, the people are young and hip and the food is flowing. The energy is high and everyone we spoke to while in Boca seemed eager for the opening and to have a new place to hang out. Whether it be for cocktails, a light bite or the full dining experience, ZED451 is sure to be the place where Floridians will congregate on those warm Florida evenings.

A preliminary review from Chowhound
ZED451, Boca Raton Mizner Park, November 2008
...headed out on a cool florida evening to explore the newest addition to mizner park . . . zed is extremely well appointed, reminiscent of a resort with great attention to detail throughout. fine woods, polished concrete, stainless steel, rock salt candles, unique ambient lighting, fountains, and flowing water surround you while a very audible eclectic mix of music fills the space. drinks at the lovely outdoor bar first, bourbon ginger lemonade and a blackberry mojito, fresh and light with all juices freshly squeezed. a very friendly service staff aside from some of the numerous hostesses who were a bit flustered at times. a good selection of food is available at the bar. i saw the impressive seafood sampler presented at the bar; crab claws, oysters, mussels etc. . . more than enough for two . . . perfect to start the evening with a glass of champagne! it's new so they were not offering everything on the menu yet but they will offer flights of wine along with their extensive wine list. a beautiful glass wine room is visible from the indoor bar area, perfect for intimate tastings. as we sat we were directed to the 'harvest tables' which are filled with fresh breads, charcuterie, an assortment of cheese, grilled vegetables, and a number of beautifully presented sides. i sampled the grilled mushrooms, asparagus, squash, tomato and mozzarella, focaccia, roasted beets, tomatillos and perhaps a few others i can't recall. everything was perfectly fresh and well seasoned. upon returning to the table our 'sides' were presented; a moist and flavorful corn bread, tender sauteed spaghetti squash and rich goat cheese scalloped potatoes. now the real food begins to arrive, delivered by 'chefs' . . . top sirloin, moroccan chicken, mahi mahi, seared tuna, grilled wahoo and salmon along with various other items. everything was perfectly cooked and simply seasoned. prices will be about $55 for the full experience plus drinks and dessert, around $35 for the 'harvest tables' only plus drinks etc. more than enough food for anyone as you may return to the harvest tables as often as you wish and enjoy as much of the freshly prepared items brought to your table as you like. it's a beautiful space with excellent food although I will need to become accustomed to retrieving my own food at the harvest tables.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A FEW MORE WEEKS

The wine is being loaded in and the restaurant is shaping up. The exterior looks great and all the fine details are being honed in on for the upcoming opening. The revolution continues as MODERN UPSCALE GRILLING is making it's presence in the Florida market. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

ZED451 TO OPEN IN MIZNER PARK, DOWNTOWN BOCA RATON

BOCA RATON, FLA. (October 14, 2008) - ZED451, a revolutionary restaurant concept of original cuisine and delivery, service intelligence and unprecedented design, will open on the southwest corner of Boca Raton’s trendy Mizner Park lifestyle shopping center on November 10, 2008. ZED451’s launch will mark the official opening of the newly developed Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.

Boca Raton is the first location for ZED451 outside of Chicago, where the critically acclaimed flagship restaurant is located in the heart of downtown. “Boca Raton is home to some of the nation’s most sophisticated diners, which is why we selected this market as our first foray outside of the Chicago area,” said Chief Operating Officer Bill Bartlett.

The concept behind ZED451 is considered revolutionary in that it takes the three core attributes of the restaurant experience – cuisine, service, and environment – and reinvents them simultaneously. ZED451 is intended to feel more like attending a party in someone’s home than dining in a restaurant.

Original Cuisine
Dining in the round. The cuisine at ZED451 – modern upscale grilling – includes fire grilled steaks, ribs, fish, poultry and game served tableside by the chefs who created them. At any time, guests are invited to help themselves to several Harvest Tables, featuring seasonal soups, composed salads, artisan cheese and charcuterie. The fixed price is intended to inspire experimentation and discovery. “The beauty of our menu is that there is no risk,” says Steve Byrne, Director of Culinary Operations. “You can try something new like antelope or wild boar sausage and if you like it, have more. If not, move on.”

ZED451’s prix fixe dinner menu of $55 includes unlimited offerings from the Harvest Tables, Chef Selections and Market Side dishes. Desserts, including Dirty Banana Sundae and Key Lime Pie, are available for $10. For those who wish to dine solely from the Harvest Table, the price is $33. Children age six to ten are $27.50; and ages five and under are complimentary. Brunch is served on Sundays, from 11:30 am until 2:30 pm for $33 per adult, and $22 for children age six to ten. Lunch service will begin in late November.

Service Centered on Guest Interaction
ZED451 breaks down the barriers between the front-of-house and the back, thereby fostering the relationship between the chef and the guest. Instead of servers and runners, dishes are delivered tableside by the chefs who created them. By selecting which foods to sample from the various offerings, when to sample them and how much, the guest is able to control the pace and portions of their dining experience.

In addition, the staff at ZED451 is trained to serve as a concierge by helping customers make reservations at other restaurants, lounges and bars following their meal. A ZED451 shuttle is available to pick up and return guests to their hotels or take them to their next destination.

General Manager of ZED451 in Boca Raton is Tim Fannin, and the 20-member team of chefs is led by Executive Chef Armando Galeas.

Unprecedented Design
ZED451 in Boca Raton is a 14,000 square foot space designed by renowned architect Chris Smith (ZED451, Chicago; Buddakan, Philadelphia and New York; Grayz, Restaurant 81 and Haru, New York; OLA and Strike, Miami; and Charlie Palmer Steak, Las Vegas.) ZED451 is Smith’s first Boca Raton project. RCC Associates is constructing the 338-seat restaurant.

A rich landscape of natural elements with a highly stylized, contemporary edge makes up the look of ZED451 in Boca Raton. Unlike most restaurant designs with a single main dining room, ZED451 breaks up the space, offering guests many options from which to choose. Anticipated to be one of the most popular areas of the restaurant is the 3,000 square foot patio with an indoor/outdoor bar. Guests will be able to choose from a number of different cozy seating options surrounded by a water feature, or in front of the fireplace. The indoor lounge features a glass-enclosed wine cellar and tasting room with a live edge wood table and custom wine glass chandelier. Another focal point is the large communal table in the center of the restaurant, which is surrounded by the completely open kitchen and lavish Harvest Tables. There are several private dining areas throughout the restaurant, including a glassed-enclosed wine room with a fireplace. Wood floors, stone accents and artistic lighting provide a sense of comfort, which are contrasted by the clean lines of the white leather seating. “Guests have described the space as ‘rustic and sexy,’” says Chief Brand Officer Daniel Harf. “The most common response I get when I give someone a tour is, ‘Wow!’"

The name, ZED451, was derived from the combination of the last letter in the British alphabet and one of the degrees Fahrenheit reaches combustion. The name reflects the experience: Zed, “the end,” represents the culmination of the owners’ experiences, and 451, “fire,” symbolizes how the experience begins.

ZED451 in Boca Raton offers dinner seven days a week beginning at 4 pm. Reservations can be made by calling (561) 393.3451; through the restaurant’s website, www.zed451.com, or via email at bocaraton@zed451.com. The restaurant is located at 201 Plaza Real in Boca Raton’s popular Mizner Park outdoor lifestyle center.
# # #

Monday, October 13, 2008

NO BONES ABOUT IT

Instead of going back and forth trying to understand what ZED451 is and how it differs from what many are calling a "Brazilian-style" of service, I thought I'd go straight to my sources. I spoke to Daniel Harf, Chief Brand Officer of Tavistock Restaurants, this afternoon to help us understand how ZED451 is changing one's dining experience.

JK: So tell me about the evolution of the ZED concept? I know it started off as Sal & Carvao in Chicago but can you explain it a bit more?
DH: The only thing we kept from the Sal & Carvao concept was the prix fixe menu and the service style, that's it. We wanted to give guests something more familiar - like dining in ones home rather than in a typical restaurant environment. It's like when I have friends come over, I want to provide them with a really comfortable experience where we can interact and learn something new together. We engage in conversation, talk to a bunch of people and I always like to expose my guests to something new, whether it be a new song on my iPod or trying a new and different ingredient. It's all about experience. I want people who leave my house to feel more fulfilled than when they got there, and that's exactly how we want guests to feel when they leave ZED451.

JK: What has been the biggest challenge you've faced with people understanding what ZED451 "is" and what "it is not?" You must keep hearing people refer to ZED451 as a Brazillian Churrascaria.
DH: Funny. Our guests "get it." The second they walk into the restaurant, they understand that the food, the style and the service are all about making their dining experience more unique than ever before. It's really the media that has a hard time grasping the concept. They're the only ones still using the "B" word.

JK: How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
DH: We strive to create our own space and we didn't want to compete in the steakhouse or fine dining waters. We set out to create something truly unique. The style of dining - the guest controlled experience as we call it - is risk free and full of adventure. There's uniqueness in the design, the food - which we describe as Modern Upscale Grilling - and the positive use of space and the environment. It's a combination of all of these elements that make us unique.

JK: The space is clearly gorgeous and very refined. What's the thought behind the design?
DH: I think the most important thing to understand is that we wanted to create synergy amongst the music, the food, the service and the space; we wanted to strike a balance between comfort and adventure. A little edge. A little surprise. We play music that is familiar, but then you may hear something that you like but you can't place the song or artist. It's the same with the space. Every time you turn a corner, you may discover a new texture or element. There's dark wood, stone, fire, white leather - all design elements that remind you that we've put great thought into all the details. To guests, these seem effortless and provide them with a sense of comfort.

JK: The food? People in Chicago rave about the grilled meats, fish, poultry and the uniqueness of the Harvest Tables. What is the deal with the menu?
DH: We constantly change the menu and in fact, we change it everyday. The food and drinks are driven by seasonality, not because it's a trend, but because it just tastes better. When you eat food fresh in season, the costs are kept low and the offerings are at the highest. We want to provide guests with the best possible ingredients and we can do that by choosing produce in season.

JK: Can you tell me about your marketing efforts here in South Florida?
DH: One thing that is important to note is our ZED bus. The branded bus will pick you up and take you back to your hotel, office or convention center. We want to make it easy for you. The driver of the bus is just as much part of the dining experience as is eating your meal. Other efforts we're currently participating in include: travel related publications, we're teaming up with local charities and we're looking to create solid relationships with local hotels and convention centers. Building brand awareness and creating word of mouth is key. We are always asking guests their thoughts and encourage them to spread the word to their friends.

JK: Sorry to keep you Daniel, but one more question.........what would you want guests to know about ZED451 if they haven't been there yet?
DH: ZED451 is truly an experience that encompasses 3 important key elements: service intelligence, unique food and delivery and unprecedented design. With the combination and consistency of these three things, we are excited about the expansion and growth of the ZED451 brand. Essentially, the service makes you feel good about us, and the experience makes you feel good about yourself and if we achieve that, then we've done our job.

Julie Kaminiski
Echo Point Communications


ZED451 Boca Raton opens to the public Monday, November 9, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON

The buzz has started and the doors are about to open in Mizner Park on Friday, November 7, 2008. The final details are coming together for this innovative MODERN UPSCALE GRILLING revolution - something south Florida has yet to experience. Below is a recent article written in Chain Leader magazine to help explain what exactly does this all mean......

ZED451's World View: ZED451 evolves from Brazilian Churrascaria into an international steakhouse focusing on the guest experience.
By Maya Norris, Managing Editor
Chain Leader, 10/1/2008

Although ZED debuted in 2007 in Downers Grove and Schaumburg, Ill., the Chicago unit, which opened in April, features the prototype the company will use as it expands. The modern, rustic decor includes hickory and walnut floors, a circular fire pit, wood slats on the ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows.

ZED451 has broken away from its Brazilian churrascaria roots in favor of a concept that focuses on international flavors and guest-focused hospitality. The three-unit steakhouse chain hopes the makeover will position it for national expansion.

In 2005, Emeryville, Calif.-based Tavistock Restaurants bought Sal & Carvao, a Brazilian steakhouse with three units in Illinois. But it soon realized the red-meat focus and basic salad bar didn't appeal to women and triggered a veto vote. In addition, the segment was becoming crowded with competitors such as Brazzaz and Texas de Brazil. So Tavistock spent two-and-a-half years redeveloping the concept into an international, upscale steakhouse.

STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
ZED451 debuted in June 2007 at the Schaumburg and Downers Grove, Ill., stores and in April at the Chicago unit. The only element the company kept from Sal & Carvao was the prix-fixe menu and service style. For $49, guests receive unlimited portions of meat, fish and poultry cooked over a fire pit as well as items from the salad bar, which ZED calls the Harvest Table. Instead of servers dressed in gaucho outfits, chefs clad in chefs' whites now present and carve the proteins tableside.

The menu now features global flavors and has been expanded to include poultry and fish. Popular items include Citrus Salmon, Buttermilk Marinated Bottom Sirloin and Mediterranean Chicken Breast. The Harvest Table features seasonal soups, breads, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, spreads and side dishes such as Steamed Baby Bok Choy with a sweet orange and chili glaze. Guests can order the salad bar only for $26.

"It's a superior guest experience," says COO Daniel Harf. "They get to control the pace and the portion. It's that unlimited sampling. That sense of adventure."

GUEST FOCUS
Unlike the previous design, which had only a dining room, the new prototype breaks up the space to give guests different dining experiences. For those dining with a big group, the restaurants have communal tables and couches on the rooftop patio. Guests who prefer a more intimate experience may hang out at the cabanas on the patio, circular banquettes or smaller dining tables.

For an interactive experience, customers can dine at the chef's counter to talk with the chefs as they cook the food or at the wine bar to learn more about the 75 to 95 varietals on ZED's global wine list and watch the bartenders make ZED's seasonal specialty cocktails.

ZED seeks to enhance the guest experience before and after the meal, too.
The staff is trained to act as a concierge by helping customers make reservations at other restaurants, lounges and bars following their meals. The company has a shuttle bus wrapped in ZED advertising to pick up and return guests to their hotels or take them to their next destination.

TRAVEL PLANS
The next step in ZED's evolution is expansion. ZED is looking for urban areas that have locals, businesspeople and tourists. It will open in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2008, Orlando and Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2009, and Boston in 2010. The company expects at least 30 units nationwide in five years.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

WE'RE IN THE HOME STRETCH


video

Thursday, August 7, 2008

GRANDMAS - THEY ALWAYS KNOW

Armando Galeas is the guy you need to know. Why you ask? Well, not only is he the one making your food, but he's one of the ones who makes the new ZED451 in Boca come to life. When hearing that Armando has been in Chicago training these last few months with the already established ZED451 team, I wanted to get an insider's view on what makes Armando Armando. Here's a glimpse from our conversation.

JG: So Armando, what is your background?
AG: I was actually born in Honduras. When I left and had the chance to come to the US, I moved to New Orleans. I started off in restaurants as a dishwasher 7 years before learning and moving my way up at Nola, one of Emeril's restaurants. I was hungry to learn everything I could and being under the wings of Emeril, I feel so lucky to have had such a great mentor showing me thr ropes.

JG: Wow, you were in New Orleans? Were you there during Katrina?
AG: I actually left at 8am, the day the hurricane hit. My girlfriend and I went to Gainesville, Florida where she was from and I got a job
at Tchoup-Chop.

JG: Then what did you do?
A: Well, I was in Gainesville for a short while and then we moved to South Beach, FL where I helped open Emeril's. I learned everything about the business from him; he is and was so inspirational for me and my career.

JG: Wow, what was he like to work with?
AG: Yea, he's just like he is on television. He's fun, warm, personable and extremely caring. He's a down to earth kind of guy who has the patience to teach you all he knows.

JG: What else would you like people to know about you?
AG: Well, I feel very fortunate for all my experiences. I never went to culinary school, so everything I've learned is from those around me (especially Emeril) who have been willing to teach me. I learned how to make pastries, strong sauces and I learned about the management of restaurants both in the front of the house and the back.

JG: Then what...
AG: After working for them for about 10 years, I was ready to move on and try something different. That's what led me to ZED451. I love the concept. The philosophy. I also love working in different cites learning about different types of cooking. There's something that makes me feel alive opening new restaurants, and being involved with a bit of that organized chaos. It's a true adrenaline rush; being here has and is a great experience.

JG: What are you most excited about when it comes to working at ZED451?
AG: Working on a concept that's never been done before, that's exciting. I met Tim (the new GM for Boca) on the same day I interviewed in Chicago, and I knew that we'd make a great team. In fact, I couldn't do this unless it were for he and John. We're all close, like family, and having the ability to openly communicate is what's going to make this place a success.

JG: So when you're not at work, what do you like to do?
AG: I love to read! Since I never had a formal education, my mission is to absorb all I can. I love reading fiction, anything related to food, the industry or the kitchen. I can relate to it. It's my life.

JG: What are you currently reading?
AG: Heat by Bill Buford. It's great if you haven't read it.

JG: Who would you say inspires you in the kitchen?
AG: Hands down, my grandmother. I was raised by her. My mother lived in a small city (La Ceiba, Honduras) far from where I was, so my grandmother took care of me. She actually lost her eyesight in her late 30's or 40's and she was such an inspiration. She never depended on anyone to help her get around. She also grew her own her fruits, herbs, you name it in a garden next to her house. Despite not being able to see, she knew where everything was, it was amazing! She inspired me to cook and learn everything I could in the kitchen. She used all fresh, flavorful ingredients and from then on I knew I wanted to be a chef.

JG: How will you infuse some of those ingredients into your menu at ZED451?
AG: I love using fresh herbs (that are bright in color) in our distinctive cocktails. Being influenced from cooking in New Orleans, Honduras and South Florida, there's always an opportunity for me to add some of my own Latin flare. I love that!

JG: Before we sign off, what else would you like people to know about you?
AG: I want people to know that I'm approachable and friendly. I'm always open to advice and I think of myself as a good listener. I also like to try new things; after all, that's how I've gotten to where I am today. I want to help others like others have helped me. I feel fortunate so I like giving back.

Jen Gurvey
Marketing Manager


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GETTING ACQUAINTED

In a recent conversation with the new GM of Boca, I had the opportunity to speak with Tim Fannin about his experiences at ZED451 thus far. Here's what Tim had to say:

JG: What have you learned about the brand and company since being in Chicago? (Tim's in Chicago these days absorbing all he can so that when he 's back in Florida, Boca will be blown away.)
TF: Gosh, I've learned so much. The warmth and approachability of the concept for the guest and the reaction that people have when they see the space, try the food and engage with the staff really encompasses all that ZED451 is to me. These are the reasons you get into the business in the first place, right?

JG: Where are you originally from?
TF: Jacksonville, FL

JG: Oh, you must be a Gator fan?
TF: Well, at one time I was but then I moved to Louisiana and quickly became and LSU fan.

JG:
What's your background?
TF: After graduating from college, I worked in the insurance business for almost 11 years (never overly happy with that). When I realized that wasn't fulfilling and I started wondering what I wanted to do when I grew up, I took a position at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse as a server. I climbed the ladder into management and have been hooked on the industry ever since.

JG: When you're not working, what do you like to do?
TF: I love spending time with my kids (I have a 16 year old daughter and a 14 year old son), going the beach, spending time outdoors and catching a game any chance I can.

JG: What are you most excited about in taking this great new concept to Florida?
TF: I'm really excited about introducing it to South Florida. There's nothing down there like this. When people arrive and see the place, they're going to be shocked as it's nothing like anything they're ever seen before.

JG: Anything else you'd like to share with us? What's your favorite thing to eat at ZED451?
TF: Oh gosh - I love the beef short ribs. They're amazing! We also just started doing a new bison dish. There's nothing like this in Florida so having an exotic meat on the menu is really cool. I also love the Cucumber Sage Martini and new Pineapple Martini. We're using fresh squeezed pineapple juice and it's like biting into a fresh pineapple. Another thing I love are the people. I've been meeting with the senior management team on a regular basis and it feels so good to work with a group of people who have a similar philosophy as I do; their energy and mindset just speak to the kind of people they are and it only reinforces my decision to work here everyday.

JG: Thanks Tim....it was great talking with you and I look forward to working together.

Jen Gurvey
Marketing Manager
Tavistock Restaurants





Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GREETINGS

Hello Boca! I can't tell you how excited I am to introduce you to ZED451! As I told Bryan, it has been a REALLY long time since I was excited about getting to the restaurant in the morning!

Friends and family have been asking me to describe ZED451...what's the food like? The atmosphere? The people? I have to tell you that there is truly nothing like ZED451 in Boca. The culinary team goes to great lengths to provide our guests with some things that are comfortable, and perhaps something that you haven't tried before. The food and drinks are amazingly fresh and seasonal. As for the cocktails, we have created a Liquid Market that is also fresh and seasonal...you will want to try everything, I promise! How about a Cucumber-Sage Martini? Or a Bing Cherry Bourbon Lemonade? How to decide, now that's the problem.

Keep checking back for updates, pictures of the construction progress and comments from me and Chef Armando.

Bill, Daniel and Bryan...thanks for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to introduce Boca to ZED451!

Tim

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SNIPITS, MOVIES AND MORE

Have you ever been on You Tube? We're thinking we should add some video clips to the blog to showcase the build-out of the new space. People want to know what's going on, and what a better way to see it first hand.

Check back soon to get a glimpse at ZED in progress. In the meantime, the photo here is something you should get used to seeing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

TIM, THE NEWEST GUY IN TOWN

You've been on board for just a few days and who knew you'd be blogging before you served your first meal. The way to start a new gig is to dive in head first. Just let us know when you come up for air. This is going to be an exciting journey and we're glad you're on board. Hope things are going well while you're in Chicago; just soak it all in until the opening of Boca. We're all looking forward to working with you and we hope you are too.

By the way, tell us a little about yourself Tim. After all, the new kid on the block always goes first...
 
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