MIAMI BEACH, FL – It was a December first to remember. The kick-off to the most exciting week in Miami was punctuated by a Michelin star tour-de-force collaboration between four of the globe’s greatest chefs, culminating in a lavish display of the culinary arts. The masterpieces of chefs Massimo Bottura, Mauro Colagreco, Alex Atala, and Antonio Bachour were presented during the opening of Miami Art Week to an elite group of 300 connoisseurs at the Once Upon a Kitchen dinner — an extraordinary, seven-course, wine-paired epicurean extravaganza.
Produced by GR8 Group, the leading international agency for distinctive VIP travel and luxury events, the ultra-high-end Dec. 1 soiree, which moved to the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center concert hall in South Beach for its third edition following two consecutive years in New York, was entwined with a unique call-to-action as all four chefs leveraged their internationally renowned mastery to highlight important social and environmental causes — including ocean pollution.
“Once Upon a Kitchen has become the ‘it’ culinary event for the global elite,” said Barnabas Carrega, Founder and CEO of GR8 Group. “This dinner is not only one-of-its kind as it pertains to the collaboration, but it’s a truly revolutionary event in terms of the unbridled ingenuity that goes into the experience of each individual course. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors, especially Ca’del Bosco, S. Pellegrino, Château d’Yquem, W South Beach and Rolls-Royce Miami, for making this year’s Once Upon a Kitchen such a bucket list event.”
With a stunning program orchestrated by Cirque of Life, each dish was a jaw-dropping take on the traditional – amplified by multi-sensory elements, including vibrant video vignettes, booming sound effects, earthy scents, mood lighting, and live narrations by actor Jacopo Rampini.
Chef Mauro Colagreco — whose restaurant, Mirazur, in Menton, France, earned the No. 1 spot on the 2019 “World’s 50 Best” list — created the first course, a “Stone Crab, Citrus Jelly.” The dish, which immediately began trending across social media channels, was presented on a plate spattered with single-use plastics (including actual bottle caps and Q-tips), underscoring the jarring reality that plastics are not only polluting our oceans, but are also now being found in our foods.
Chef Alex Atala — whose restaurant, D.O.M., in São Paulo, Brazil, was rated the fourth-best in the world in 2012 and was a recent star of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” — fashioned one of his two courses, “Sweet Potato, Hierba Mate Bernaise and Toasted Herbs from the Forest,” around the fire-ravaged Amazon rainforest in his home country. Gripping video of the inferno, set to heavy metal rock music, played just before the dish was presented to guests – once again emphasizing the devastation of climate change and deforestation.
Chef Massimo Bottura — one of TIME magazine’s “most influential people of 2019,” and whose restaurant, Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy, topped the “World’s 50 Best” rankings in 2018 after previously being named No. 1 in 2016 — was joined on stage throughout the night by his fellow chefs for demonstrations and explanations about the origins of the dishes. Bottura has been participating in Once Upon a Kitchen since its inception in 2016. His not-for-profit cultural organization, Food for Soul, which was created by him and his wife, Lara Gilmore, was the charitable partner of this year’s event. Throughout the night, Bottura put an added emphasis on creating and sustaining community kitchens worldwide and feeding people in great need. He served two of his most iconic dishes: “Caesar Salad in Bloom” (adorned with colorful blossoms) and the widely lauded “Modenese Tortellini with Parmigiano Reggiano,” complete with 36-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano and shavings of Angellozzi white truffle from the Sibillini Apennine Mountains.
To conclude the festivities, pastry chef Antonio Bachour — who was recently named by ESQUIRE magazine as the best pastry chef in the U.S., as well as “best pastry chef in the world” at “The Best Chef Awards 2018” — crafted a “Gianuja Chocolate Mousse” along with petit fours. Bachour worked with Valrhona Chocolate for each dessert and highlighted efforts being conducted in the Dominican Republic by the revered chocolate-maker to establish schools in the cacao fields there and further the education of young farmworkers.
“These chefs are at the pinnacle of their craft,” continued Carrega. “To have the unbelievable opportunity to see just one of these gentlemen cooking in-person is a rarity…but to be in the same room with all four is the experience of a lifetime. It’s why so many ardent followers will fly across the world to take part in our dinner…knowing full-well that it’s a gathering that simply cannot be missed.”
Adding to the uniqueness of the night, the chefs were assisted (and periodically joined on stage) by a bevy of local and international chefs — friends and admirers of Bottura, Colagreco, Atala and Bachour – including Carlos Garcia, Diego Oka, Santiago Gomez, Victor Moreno, Charles Thomson, Jose Gamez, and Michael Hunter. Each dish during the dinner was paired with the globe’s most prestigious wines, including those by Ca’del Bosco, Château d’Yquem, Gaby Cuvée, and Movia. They were individually approved by internationally renowned winemaker Roberto Cipresso, who also arranged a special wine experience before the event — along with acclaimed alchemist Alex Ott, who wowed event-goers with the wonders of mixology during the cocktail hour.
Once Upon a Kitchen was endorsed by Forbes Travel Guide — the only independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas — and the Fine Dining Chapter of YPO, the premier global leadership organization. In addition to having W South Beach as its hotel partner, and sponsors including Inedit Damm, La Prima, Lavazza, Rolls-Royce Miami, S. Pellegrino, Valrhona, and Vista Alegre, the dinner was aligned with the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority.
About GR8 Group
GR8 is a top-of-the line international team of creative professionals, dedicated to designing and customizing the world’s most exclusive experiences. The agency has the proven expertise to bring the most ambitious dreams to life while giving its clients the best possible gift: An unforgettable experience to share with friends, family and loved ones. From attending the Olympics to privatizing a noble Venetian palace, GR8 Group works with its worldwide network to propose and execute the unexpected and tailor each experience to meet an individual’s specific needs and passions. Visit http://www.thegr8experience.com/.