The Traymore Restaurant and Bar at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach
The MBVCA sat down with Chef Juan Loaisiga, chef The Traymore to discuss why he loves Miami Beach and what it is like being a chef in the city. See what he has to say and check out his restaurant, Traymore Restaurant at 2445 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.
What did it take to make the Traymore one of the most highly-acclaimed restaurants in Miami Beach?
We feel The Traymore Restaurant and Bar has always been one of the most approachable and relaxed dining experiences in South Florida. We pride ourselves on not being the typical South Beach “see-and-be-seen” establishment, but more of a place you can speak with the person you’re with and be heard without having to talk over thumping music. The Traymore is a soothing place to dine that has an air of sophistication and romance. Our cuisine compliments this ideology rather well and has been the driving force behind the restaurant’s popularity.
The Traymore has been referred to as “not your typical Miami Beach restaurant.” What would you say makes it different?
The relaxed environment and clientele we attract is what sets The Traymore apart. Our hotel guests are always a priority, but locals also love our intimate setting and unpretentious service that has a traditional approach. We don’t set aside private tables for celebrities, bring out sparkling bottles of champagne or turn up the electronic music after 11pm. ‘Silent Luxury’ is the message we like to abide by for the property and The Traymore reflects COMO Hotels’ wellness philosophy that can be enjoyed through our COMO Shambhala cuisine, Gin Bar and wellness juices for example.
How do you find inspiration for new flavors to incorporate into your dishes?
Miami has such cultural diversity that always gives me inspiration for new flavors and ingredients. Trying new ideas from other cities or simply stumbling across an unusual herb at a market can spark creativity. I’m always looking for new ways to be inspired, whether it’s during my travels or when hearing stories from family and friends about new and exotic places they’ve discovered. The newly published COMO Shambhala cookbook with a worldly array of recipes and techniques also gives me some great inspiration. I keep it next to me when I’m in the kitchen at home and at work.
How does working in Miami Beach compare to where you’ve worked previously?
Miami runs at a far higher pace than most people imagine. Restaurants in Miami like to have a high turnover every evening that often makes people feel uncomfortable, as though they are being rushed to make way for the next group of guests. We like to adopt a far more relaxed and friendly approach, whereby no table is ever encouraged to leave when they’ve finished eating and we don’t bring the check to the table until it’s requested. This is how restaurants operate in the most sophisticated cities and this is how we like to treat our guests as well – with utmost respect.
What dishes, or flavors, resemble the energy of Miami Beach the most?
Our seafood plates reflect the coastal energy of Miami Beach. From the Octopus and fish to our fragrant Seafood Stew – we live in a beach town and therefore the produce caught in Florida’s waters is primarily what can be found on our menu. I enjoy bringing a contemporary layer of flavor, and sometimes even spice, through the herbs and seasonings added to both the seafood and meat dishes that we offer. Some of our dishes are also special additions or can be found on certain days of the week, so that we are always fresh. Some of our small plates also resemble the energy of Miami Beach and we have also been known to collaborate with our resident mixologist at The Traymore Gin Bar to offer “Gin inspired” appetizers in the past, such as Ceviches from around the world, and even gin-infused sorbet.
Why is it important for your food to be locally sourced?
We offer the best seasonal products from local farmers. We are committed to supporting our local economy as we showcase the finest crops our Florida land produces and the fresh fish our oceans bless us with. The menu at the Traymore is focused on showcasing fresh, seasonal ingredients from Florida and other regions of the United States. We buy as much local and organic produces and products as possible. Our focus on local ingredients stems from our dedication to sustainability, giving back to our surrounding community and providing only meals of the highest standards to our guests. We like to showcase ‘excellence’ from the region, from the seafood in Florida’s waters to the fruit and vegetables grown by Paradise Farm in South Miami’s Homestead area.
Our fish, shellfish and crustaceans are sourced from small-scale, reliable, sustainable
fisheries from Florida and around the United States. We receive our fish in less than 24 hours from the time it was caught. Then, we are able to skillfully prepare it and serve it with pride.
How would you describe the experience of eating at the Traymore on Miami Beach?
The Traymore Hotel which reopened as the COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach in March
of 2014 was originally designed and built in 1939 by leading Art Deco architect Albert Anis
(1889-1964), the “father” of Streamline Art Deco. The hotel’s fortunate location between Lake Pancoast on the West and the Atlantic Ocean on the East granted almost every room a water view;1940’s postcards from the hotel describe a “Private Beach and Cabana Club”, still present
today, as well as a “Continental Dining Room” and “Blue Angel Cocktail Lounge” both of
which have been redesigned by Paola Navone as our own Traymore Restaurant and Bar. I would describe the experience at The Traymore as calm, rejuvenating and with every attention to detail taken care of.
Any unique dishes for Miami Spice?
Our Miami Spice lunch menu features Swordfish with garden vegetable ribbons, toasted pine nuts and Florida citrus, and the Steamed Mussels with bouillabaisse and prawn chips. For our dinner menu, I’m particularly keen on the Trout with baby bok choy and yellow tomato coulis, the Squid Ink Linguine with seafood sausage and the Soft Shell Crab with savory corn bread cake and aji Amarillo aioli.
What do you have up your sleeve for the fall and winter menus at the Traymore?
We’re going to have a very down-to-earth menu for the new Fall and Winter season ahead. I’ve decided to introduce some root vegetables to the menu, mushroom inspired dishes, some additional lamb and chicken plates, while bringing an array of interesting smoky flavors to the way we cook and prepare our fish dishes.
About Juan Loaisiga
Juan Loaisiga, 30, was born in Nicaragua and moved with his family to Miami, Florida in 1992. Juan always aspired to be a chef during his teenage years, after helping his Mother with their family restaurant in
Nicaragua. She became a lifelong inspiration for his work in the kitchen.
After graduating from Miami Senior High, Juan took his diploma at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Miami, where he started his formal training as a chef in 2008. His first job took him to Grove Isle in Coconut Grove at Gibraltar – a restaurant specializing in seafood, a cuisine that would soon became his specialty. Over a three and a half year period, Juan became a line cook shortly after proving his capabilities as an intern.
A friend studying at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University saw an attractive job opening for Juan and notified him of the opportunity. In January 2014, Juan became a line cook under Executive Chef Jonathan Lane at the newly opened hotel, COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach, the inaugural U.S. property by COMO Hotels and Resorts. Juan joined the team for what was to become a world class seafood destination at the hotel – The Traymore Restaurant and Bar. Under the tutelage of Chef Jonathan, Chef Juan honed his skills to develop an expertise in locally sourced seafood fare to the delight of repeat restaurant patrons. Chef Juan progressed to become Junior Sous Chef for a year, before becoming the restaurant’s Sous Chef. Six months later, Juan took over at the restaurant’s helm as Chef de Cuisine, a position in which he currently resides.
Chef Juan enjoys the locally produced seafood ingredients harvested from the Florida waters, while adapting to the seasonal trends and experimenting with the fresh and rich variety the market has to offer. He admits to seafood still being his favorite cuisine by way of its “delicacy” and the precise cooking techniques he adopts for locals and visiting hotel guests.