By Melanie Galarce
There’s a common misconception that to take full advantage of the Miami Spiceculinary program the experience should be over the top, lavish, and slightly outside your comfort zone. However, I’m here to share an experience that was quite the opposite. You might already be fully aware that both Mitch and I are slightly biased to a small, understated, and slightly under-explored wine bar on 8th Street called Lekoké. We could write a four-page love letter to this quaint wine bar, with a collection of quirky, antique household items and a floor-to-ceiling collection of booze, but it’s the food, and, specifically, it’s Miami Spice-inspired menu that recently gave me a new reason to brag some more about this small gem.
Francisco Anton, Chef/Owner, Cardón y el Tirano
A native of Isla Margarita, Venezuela, Chef Francisco Anton moved to the U.S. when he was 16 years old. After growing up between Louisiana and earning a business degree in Orlando, he decided to follow his passion for cooking and went to live and work in NYC. After stints in Brooklyn and Manhattan, he came into his own under Maximo Tejada who taught him how to merge his flare for Latin cuisine with French technique. After a few years, Chef Anton moved to Miami and, before opening Cardón y el Tirano, worked alongside Michael Shikany at SHIKANY and was also heavily recruited to work with Alex Chang at the Vagabond. Instead of continuing on a path of working for others, however, Chef Anton decided to follow his dreams and open his own restaurant, offering a contemporary take on more traditional menus from all over Latin America.
Let’s be honest here people. Contrary to popular belief, Calle 8 is not a hotbed of modern culture. Sure they’ve got some historical mainstays (i.e. Versailles), artistic activities (i.e. Viernes Cultural) and even some up-and-coming hotspots (i.e. Azucar Ice Cream Company), but those are few and far between compared to the joyerias, check cashing stores and peluquerías. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Calle 8 (and don’t want any hate mail), but the perceived hub of Latin society in our city could use an upgrade.