Monday, May 19, 2008

The Confessional | Keith Freiman

Keith Freiman, Miami | Two things matter when in Miami Beach: what you wear and where you eat. The latter is easy: forget trends and go for the classics like Smith and Wollensky. In its kitchen, you will find Keith Freiman, the Chef (as cool as The City) who puts down the knives to enter The Confessional.

You’re a Chef at the delicious Smith & Wollensky. What’s the biggest food trend you’ve seen in the past 12 months? I would say that the biggest food trend Miami has been experiencing lately is the emergence of a wider variety of steak houses. I’m talking Brazilian and Argentinean steak houses with a buffet line of appetizers and side dishes with an all-you-can-eat steak concept. Very popular down here...

I can’t stand Rachael Ray. Which other Celebrity TV Chefs do you think are overrated? Many but Bobby Flay comes to mind…

The best meal I ever had was cooked by mom, in our kitchen. On the other hand, I once had dinner at Jean-Georges in New York and not only wasn’t I floored by the food but also, I almost past-out when the bill arrived. Why do you think people necessarily & erroneously equate high prices with good cuisine? I agree that people are fooled by thinking that since they are paying a lot of money for dinner that they are getting a better product. But I think that people who are willing to pay more simply have this expectation that by paying more they will or they have to get more for their buck. And we all know that is not always the case which leaves people disappointed in many instances. I think people have to realize what the high prices equate to and they are usually for the restaurant’s great ambiance, service and sometimes location and clientele, especially here in Miami. So the best meal isn’t always the most pricey one. It’s almost like paying for name brand clothing instead of the generic brand.

Name 5 ingredients every Foodie should have in their kitchen. Every kitchen should always have kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter.

What’s your signature dish (at home or at the Restaurant)? My signature dish at home would have to be good-old meat and potatoes. You can never go wrong with that! Grilled steak with some nice garlic mash potatoes and steamed broccoli followed by a seasonal dessert.

Angus or Kobe? Angus or Kobe??? I don’t think they are worth the money and most people can’t even tell the different. I think a good USDA Choice cut of beef is just as good.

In what ways do you think North Americans’ relationship with food should change? I think Americans have to stop worrying about eating the fattening foods and just concentrate on eating a well balanced meal. What I mean is dinner should include a protein, a starch and a vegetable, and don’t over do it: stop when you feel full! Americans also have to try to cut out all the snacks we eat all day long. I am guilty of that my self.

Every year, Wolfgang Puck cooks the dinner at the Governor’s Ball after the Oscars. What would be your ultimate gig? My ultimate gig would be to cook for the President of the United States in the White House.

I once broke up with a boyfriend because he didn’t have one epicurean bone in his body. As a Chef, could you be with someone who doesn’t fully enjoy food? Being a chef it is a little hard to be with somebody that does not enjoy all types of food with an open mind to try new things. I can tell you that my fiancée doesn’t have the passion to cook like I do and that’s ok because she loves food and is open to trying new things.

Around Valentine’s Day, women’s magazines are always filled with brainless “Love Menus” which, in my opinion, don’t stand on a leg. You are however a pro so enlighten us: what’s a never-miss romantic menu? Valentines menu need to be kept simple…you can’t go wrong with simple, fresh and healthy. I like to set the mood with fresh red roses, lots of candles and a bottle of champagne…Then serve a great appetizer like a nice ceviche and fresh baguette. For the main course, I like to go straight for the gold! The best of both Worlds with some surf and turf. Small filet with a lobster tail (be sure to take the lobster out of the tail, we don’t want anybody to get food all over their nice clothing). Then the fireworks start with some dessert. The dessert course should be for both people to share something so fresh chunks of fruit with white and dark chocolate fondue make a good choice.

Fill in the blank: “Miles Davis is to Jazz, what (blank) is to Food”. French cuisine is to great food

You are cooking the perfect dinner for friends at home. What’s on the menu, what music is playing in the background and what wine are you serving? My perfect meal for my friends is grilled food. It’s very healthy and won’t smell up the house. I like to start off with a nice fresh salad that has romaine lettuce, green and red peppers, cucumbers, green olives, sun dried tomatoes, carrots and some fresh feta cheese. For the main course, a nice London broil that has been marinating overnight in Italian vinaigrette cooked medium rare and sliced thin. To go with that , some grilled asparagus and some finger link potatoes baked with salt, pepper rosemary and garlic. Desserts stays seasonal, no need to go too big because people are full by now. I like to make crepes with a seasonal filling. The music in the back round I like to have on is smooth jazz...

What makes you mad? I would say what makes me mad is when people say they don’t like something without trying it.

You’re cooking the last supper for Jesus and the Apostles. What’s on the menu? Ummm…That’s a tough one. Perhaps some grilled fish and vegetables and of course bread. I think that would be appropriate. J Simple, fresh and something that was easy and popular during his time.

Smith and Wollensky in Miami Beach:


S. said...

Martine you need your own show... seriously. Very informative and entertaining interview. I must disagree about the Kobe: I know and love the difference. However, a good skirt or hanger steak is almost as fulfilling.

Great subject. Great job.

Martine said...

Thank you very much S.
I think Keith made a great point: Food needs to be kept simple and that's when it's at its best.