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Pablo Fernández-Valdés on Barcelona's Gastronomy, Miami Sunlight and Opening Klima

Everything you could ever want to know about Miami's Beach's new Spanish restaurant, Klima.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your partner Yago Giner.

Miami is becoming a very important gastronomic city

We are originally from Barcelona in Northern Spain in the Mediterranean, very close to France. For many years we've been not only in the restaurant business but also in the hotel business. Our background is in both of them, 50/50. And we've been managing a very successful company [Grupo Tragaluz], I am a CEO myself, for many years in Barcelona. It's a Barcelona-based company but we had 22 restaurants all over Spain and also internationally, we owned some restaurants in Mexico and in Colombia. Once we achieved all our personal objectives Yago (he was my COO) and I decided to come to the United States and build our first restaurant starting here in Miami, with the idea to grow into other concepts that we want to develop here in this country, if we are successful enough with the first one. We are fairly young, very young in spirit and we decided to come to Miami because it's got this multicultural perspective. It's the Latin American people combined with all the people from Northern United States ... that gave us a huge interest in what the city of Miami could represent for our business. We thought it would be easier to start here because it's become such a huge destination for travel and leisure. Miami is becoming a very important gastronomic city, we believe. We really wanted to be part of it. We bought the lease of the former restaurant that used to be called Tosca and we refurbished the whole thing. Our attention to detail forced us to take on a huge renovation of the space, so when you think of Tosca and see this, you will see that there is a very different approach. Our ideology is in everything, the way we built it and the way we will present it, the materials we select, etc. It's about the way we were educated especially coming from Barcelona, which is a very special city with very peculiar architecture and with its own cultural values and that's what we have tried not to replicate but to bring the knowledge we have gained over the years. Hopefully we are open by the end of November, if things go right we should be able to make it.

Tell me about the concept.

Since we are from the Mediterranean, we love the light and the sunlight.

The concept is architecture ... you are going to see that the interior design that we have developed ourselves for our first venue, I think it hasn't been seen yet in Miami. Not because there aren't beautiful places because there are so many and so successful, it's just because I think that coming from Barcelona and working for this very prestigious group for so many years leaves something in the way you understand the business and the atmosphere, which is the most challenging thing that we want to create. I think it's going to make us worth visiting. We use very novel materials, we try not to change the way they look in nature, we are very respectful with nature. Since we are from the Mediterranean, we love the light and the sunlight. That's why we opened up some sky lights in the new roof that we have. We are searching for that natural light. We want to show the atmosphere of the restaurant even from the street, you'll be able to see what's happening in the venue. You will be able to see the bar where we will hopefully have some nice activity.

we would travel thousands and thousands of miles to find this kind of spot

There we will serve half portions of what will be served in the main dining room. After the main dining room there is something we call "pergola," which is very Mediterranean, it's something that protects you from the rain, where there will be plants on a new structure we have created and then there is also outdoor seating. There's a small garden with two beautiful trees, so you can also have the experience of dining under the sky. Basically, we have created a very wide and very open concept. It'll be very easy for the associates to move around. We have put a lot of attention into interior design, architecture, graphic design at the same level as music, the food that will be served and all the other small details. So, although it's casual because of the menu we will have and the look of the venue here in the U.S. it could be considered fine dining, but in a cool young way. Very fresh. It's going to be fun. We're creating a place where we would love to go, we would travel thousands and thousands of miles to find this kind of spot. We put all of our souls here and all our creativity and this is basically a very passionate project.

Tell me about the chef.

He does not mask with so many ingredients, it's easy for people to understand what he does

David Rustarazo, besides that he's part of our business, and the business is part of our lives, he is the head chef. But let's say the "top chef" that has been in my family for years is Albert Ventura he owns already a few restaurants in Barcelona. He started very small, by himself and worked his way up. Before opening his three venues he has now and being very successful, he was head chef of two of the best restaurants in Barcelona and that gave him a very special perspective of the business. Also being born and raised in Cataluna in Barcelona, which has its own gastronomic culture, that made an impact. What he does is so honest in the way he approaches the produce and treats the produce. He is very direct. He does not mask with so many ingredients, it's easy for people to understand what he does. I also brought the maître d' from Barcelona, he's been with us for the last 11 years. We wanted to really bring in our culture. What we are very good at is creating very strong teams and we hope that they will help us grow here in the U.S., but also have in mind that we want to adapt to the U.S.

What does Klima mean?

The sunset ... its just unreal for us, we were shocked and we still are every day

Klima, in English could be translated to climate, but with a "k." Why the k? Because we thought that this letter gives a stronger image to the name. It's "klima" because we were so impressed the first time we came to Miami. First of all, the light is so special, the sunlight. Second, the changing weather. The good atmosphere. And also related to our business because we want to create a very beautiful "klima" in the restaurant. An experience where you feel great and leave happy. We were so impressed with the climate here in South Florida. The sunset ... its just unreal for us, we were shocked and we still are every day.

Tell me about the cuisine.

It's very fresh, light.

Well we are from Barcelona. We have in our culture this Mediterranean diet that is known world wide because it's very healthy. We use local, seasonal products. This helps us to create a very wide range of different dishes. We wanted to create a more open concept so there's also international dishes that are going to be included in the menu. Obviously, it will be very Mediterranean. You will see this because of the different herbs and the way we combine things. It's very fresh, light. Mediterranean and international. You could find some crudos or some tataki along with other very classic dishes. We ourselves also want to interpret local dishes or dishes from the U.S. and give them our personal touch.

Anything specific you're working on yet?

Yes, we have a good selection. We're going to start with not a very long menu. Our main priority is to first of all understand what we need to do and deliver quality. We're going to sacrifice having a very long menu and just try to aim to do things well and perform and deliver good quality so the message is well-received by all the customers. Later on we can complicate ourselves. We have a lot of dishes in our minds. It's quite eclectic. For example, we have this salad that's fennel, burrata, kalamata, dried tomatoes and basil; then you can also find tuna tartare with avocado and fleur-de-lis; and also vegetarian dishes like tomato tartare. We'll also have some oysters with ponzu, with miso.

Gastronomy is culture and it's rich and we are so in love with it.

We also have the salmorejo, it's like a gazpacho but more creamy, with lobster and egg yolk. We also have this beautiful avocado cannelloni with king crab, mascarpone. We have some pork gyozas.There will also be chicken wings with soy sauce. And also some very classical things from back home like fried eggs used not as breakfast, but as an appetizer. We'll also have a variety of pastas. We want to be very dynamic and have many specials once we're on track because we have such a wide variety of different dishes that we want to incorporate. So it's a broad, open concept with different produce not from specifically Spain or the Mediterranean. Gastronomy is culture and it's rich and we are so in love with it.

What do you think will make Klima stand out here?

If we can be honest with ourselves and to our origins, I think we will stand out. Also, being with our head down to earth, having the ability to adapt our culture to the culture of this country and being humble. Creating good memories for the customer ... We're so proud of what we've learned and our culture and our produce that we use daily. This is just a very small and very humble message we want to send to people. Hopefully the will have a good time with us.

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