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Brad Kilgore on Alter, Pop Ups and Life After J&G Grill

Chef reveals what's in store for his new restaurant.

Just yesterday, Brad Kilgore announced he had left his post as the Executive Chef at Bal Harbour’s swanky J&G Grill in order to open his new restaurant, Alter. The restaurant is described as "progressive-American, with focus on local, seasonal produce," and is slated to open (tentatively) in February 2015. Not one slow down, Kilgore is planning to do a series of pop up dinners leading up to the opening of Alter starting later this month. 

Eater Miami spoke with Kilgore about his new concept, what guests can expect and if his popular Brad’s BBQ will be making an appearance.

How did Alter come about?
I teamed up with these two guys that have been coming into my last restaurant and asking me to cook them tasting menus, and sometimes they’d come in two nights in a row, and I’d give them a different experience each time. They kept coming back, bringing more and more friends and then over time I started to get to know them personally, then one day they asked if I would be interested in doing something together. We slowly started to talk about it. You know I wasn’t ready to move on from my position until I realized this could come together as a beautiful opportunity for all of us. When we decided to pull the trigger it was go time.

These two people you are referring to are Javier Ramierz (also known in the food community as GourmandJ) and Leo Monterrey? 
Yes. They are childhood friends and have known each other for many years. Both of them love the industry in different ways. Leo is heavily into wine and does some distribution of wine on his own and Javier is a food blogger and a gourmand in general. It just felt like a perfect fit.

So what can diners expect from Alter?
It’s going to be something new to put out in the neighborhood of Wynwood. We want to showcase beautiful cuisine but we are also going to have different aspects of the restaurant. It’s a relatively small space inside but we also have seating outside and they are going to be similar experiences but different at the same time. The menu inside won’t be fully available outside. Outside will be more cocktail focused, stay open a little later than the restaurant, but also out there on the terrace it’ll have my organic garden where I’ll be growing heirloom tomatoes, vegetables, herbs, flowers and things I’ll be using for the restaurant.

Once you’re inside we’ll be offering an a la carte menu using seasonal products, and local products working closely with some farms because I can’t grow all the vegetables and needs for the restaurants. The experience inside is going to be something I’ve been wanting to do my whole life. Very artistic presentations, four-seat chefs table that can accommodate two couples or a party of three or four based on the night, and it’ll be theirs table for the evening. It’ll be a tasting menu, that one [the chef’s table] but eventually it’ll become an omakase experience where you’re just there all night and it’s many, many courses, but I am going to let the client grow on that aspect and let them tell me what they want. 

You mentioned a bar program, have you figured out who will be handling that yet? 
No we haven’t deemed someone yet. Definitely working on that extensively, doing research, talking to a lot of people, and when we announce that it’ll be extremely exciting. 

Why’d you choose the Wynwood neighborhood?
It’s such a great neighborhood and it’s a young neighborhood and it’s an artist supportive neighborhood and it’s a place where my cuisine will fit it. It’s all about building from the ground up and people are acceptant of themselves and their artistic ability. I think the food we’ll be doing will fit perfectly over there. 

You had a great run at J&G Grill, recently getting a 4-star review. Was it a tough decision to leave?
Absolutely. I’d be lying to say this was the only thing on the table. There’s always opportunities being presented to me and all were very quick decisions to disregard. This one wasn’t an easy decision either. It was a long process even before I decided to take a step in this direction, just because it [J&G Grill] was a great place to work and to be a chef and so many great things happened there. It was definitely bittersweet, but the sweet is being able to become the chef I really want to be. 

Alter isn’t opening until Spring 2015, until then you’re doing these pop up dinners. Can you tell us about those?
Starting November 20 the dinners begin. The ticket sales will be through Brown Paper Tickets. We are going to do four courses for $59 with an optional wine pairing for $29. We want to be able to showcase some food I’m thinking about putting on the menu, some new items and just have fun and start being part of the neighborhood. The pop up will be at Miam Cafe on 27th and 3rd Avenue, in the heart of Wynwood in the Wynwood Building. The owner Lexi is working closely with us and is extremely accommodating and he has a beautiful cafe and it looks like it’s going to be a really good time. The dinners are going to be two turns of 15-20 guests, not every single night and we are going to be doing some brunches as well, just to have fun and to play around with the whole brunch facet.

You also have some special pop up dinners planned during Art Basel. What do you have lined up?
During the week Art Basel it’s going to be amazing. We’re going to have guest chefs including Diego Oka from La Mar, Giorgio Rapicavoli, we’re bringing in an artist from NYC one night and it’ll actually be a reveal of her new series and I’ll be plating on top of her work and as they eat the food it’ll reveal her new prints. We’re having custom made plexiglass frames made for it so I can plate on top of it. We’ve got a lot of cool ideas for Art Basel as well.

Speaking of pop ups, you had your short lived but very popular Brad’s BBQ pop up before going to J&G Grill. Will any of those dishes be making a return on your new menu?
Not on Alter’s menu, no. Not that I won’t steer away from putting some smoke on our meat at any time but you know we are going towards the more progressive, American modern approach for our cuisine, but the BBQ is definitely not lost and Miami can look forward to that hitting the streets — eventually.

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