The Season 13 champ shares his two new projects and the secrets to winning Top Chef.
Chef Jeremy Ford is making his biggest splash yet since winning Top Chef Season 13 with two new Miami restaurants: Stubborn Seed, set to open in early September, and Afishonado, following in 2018. Both restaurants come as part of Ford’s new partnership with Grove Bay Hospitality Group and each will show off a different side of Ford’s experience and style.
He describes Stubborn Seed as directly inspired by his time working for famed chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Dean Max—the varied menu will rotate constantly based on what’s in season. For example, two confirmed opening menu items are the five-second wahoo with buttermilk, jalapeño ferment, sea grapes and Florida peach and family-style suckling pig with charred turnip, spiced cherry jam and natural jus.
Throughout the development process, Ford was continuously surprised by the new ingredients he discovered around Miami, like Everglades tomatoes from Fort Lauderdale-based Harpke Family Farm’s, which he describes as, “gorgeous, tiny tomatoes that are like eating candy, so naturally sweet and the skin is so soft that it bursts like caviar when you bite down.”
At the heart of the Stubborn Seed, though, is Ford’s desire to harvest and grow new dishes from the ground up, a trait that directly influenced the name of the restaurant. “It’s our stubbornness about the products we use and where we get them from that guides a lot of the aspects of the restaurant,” says Ford. “As chefs, the search never ends and being stubborn about what we do means that the process of improvement never ends either.”
While little is currently known about the second restaurant, Ford did say that Afishionado will be located on the Miami waterfront in The Grove and that it will have a more rustic vibe compared to Stubborn Seed.
It has been a whirlwind 18 months for Ford since winning Top Chef Season 13, but the chef still thinks about his experience on the show and has some suggestions for future contestants as well. First, Ford believes that, “your cooking should be loud and stand out. Cooks need to remember that when judges are tasting 17 dishes, you need to do something that is going to make them remember you.” He also stresses the importance of cooking from your heart because if you don’t, it will show in the final product. Lastly, Ford believes that it’s important to pick up on the preferences of each judge in order to win their favor. “After a few challenges, you start to notice consistencies, like that Padma loves big spices and [Tom] Colicchio appreciates simplicity,” he says. “In time, you start to understand how to play the game.”