You might recognize Aleric Constantin as the guy who carts around all sorts of goodies on his food bike, or the man behind the Social Cena pop-up dinners, or as AJ, the line cook at Michael's Genuine (he's a man of many hats), but soon you'll know him as the owner of a new restaurant called Decorated Slang. Still in the process of looking at properties, Constantin's hoping to find a space he can turn into a hip and casual 50-60 person seater. We caught up with the chef to talk about all his plans and hopes for Decorated Slang, once it's up and running. Here's the scoop:
Why are you calling the restaurant Decorated Slang?
The name, pretty much breaking down the two words, decorate, is obviously to embellish in a certain way, and then slang is one's personal vocabulary or lingo depicting their surroundings, their environment, their lifestyle so to speak. So, our language is food and that's our slang. We wanted to in some way dress it up and presented in a way where people can be surrounded by our lifestyle, our slang.
Who else is on board for this opening?
My partner Juan [Carlos Murillo], he's my front of house manager. He's had a lot of experience being a server, a maitre d', things like that. So him and I talked about the idea during one of our pop-ups and taking it to the next level, and we came up with an investor, he's also a very likeminded individual who's a whole lot older than us, but has been in the industry for a long time and was very intrigued with the idea. So, he's on board. Our mixologist is named Douglas [Cruz Jr.], his nickname is Biju. He's over right now at Blackbrick and Soyka. He's a really cool dude, really hippie, out there looking. He was actually brought on by Juan and we just meshed so we decided to bring him along as our mixologist/drinking guy.
What are you planning for the menu?
Dinner service for starters. As far as the menu, it's, like I mentioned, it's slang, an expression of my form and representation. It's pretty much eclectic style of cuisine. It's flavor profile based. I'm big on regions and things that grow, I love growing food, so if I know that something grows in a certain region .... I like to play around with different forms of cuisine. I wouldn't necessarily call it fusion because it's not so polarized like this is Asian, this is Cuban, this is Italian; it's a little bit of everything. At the same time, it's fun and interactive and sometimes unexpected.
Are you pulling inspiration from what you've been doing at your pop-ups?
Yeah. The pop-ups were my first actual way of expression. I started of with the cargo bike and it pretty much came to notoriety for serving sweets and ceviches and things like that and I wanted to step outside of that image and cook full on. So the pop-ups became a social collaboration amongst Miami's art scene as a whole. There's food, music, mixology, art. Once a month I bring various people from those fields and we go into the kitchen and host a dinner together. It gave me a venue to do what I wanted to do without any limitations or a chef telling me, "no it's not this, it's not that" .... it's nice. It's definitely been a sample of what's to come. It's my style, it's my energy, it's what I want to do. As long as the people are happy and eating and having a good time, which is pretty much what food to me is supposed to be about – it's a social atmosphere, it's supposed to be a communal experience.
For those who aren't familiar with you, tell me a little about your background in the food industry.
Originally I started out in the front of house as a server, so I was always around food. I've actually been in the kitchen since I was a little kid. Both my grandparents were very involved in exposing me to food, exposing me to ingredients, always eating everything, never saying no to food. I've always been intrigued by it. Then I went to school for something completely different and later on in life realized that food was actually what made me happy and peaceful. I went to UM for sports medicine and pretty much just didn't feel it after a while. I've worked at Eating House — I went to high school with Giorgio [Rapicavoli] — I was there for the whole pop-up conception period, I worked at Mandolin, Nemesis Urban Bistro, Proper Sausages and Michael's Genuine.
· All Coverage of Aleric Constantin on Eater [EMIA]