“I always knew, no matter what I made, it had to be important for me as well as others. And everyone is connected through food.”
If you’re thinking of dining at Prey’s new pop-up restaurant at 1 Hotel South Beach, a fair warning: the gorgeous rooftop view of Miami’s skyline and fresh seafood is not all you’re signing up for. There’s a story behind every creation, from the Lionfish sashimi to the crickets in brie cheese. Taste, health, and ecology combine on a single plate, and to celebrate opening night, Chef Bun walked us through the history and meaning of every bite.
As chef-owner of Miya’s—a second-generation restaurant in New Haven—Bun is bringing the world’s first eco-sustainable cuisine to Miami. He is a food culture innovator, his articles featured in scientific American Magazine and Harvard Design Journal. And his aim is to make good food accessible. Amongst dancing geishas, an open bar, and music by GOLDROOM, guests tried unusual flavor combinations and learned firsthand about Bun’s creations.
While crafting a variety of surprising and delicious dishes, Bun also transformed guests into an audience. He described the story of how the Queen of Sheba honored King Solomon with spices. “King Solomon had never before experienced cumin, chili, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon, or allspice. By sharing with him the tastes and smells of her homeland, the Queen of Sheba offered him the very essence of her people. We take inspiration from this story. Our cuisine utilizes the technique of sushi as a medium to explore what it means to be human,” concluded Bun.
The first item on the tasting menu that night was Mugwort Onigiri. Wrapped in traditionally made rice, the plant is high in nutritional value and has a salty, chewy texture. It’s very basic composition is an homage to the beginning of sushi. “If you were going on a journey, you’d wrap some pickled fish in rice and the food would be good for a while,” explained Chef Bun. Mugwort is also an invasive species in North America, so eating it helps diminish the damage it makes to the native plant life.
Texas antelope, Asian carp, feral hog topped with quail eggs and cheese and curry. All delicious and served up with spicy sake are also invasive species. And unlike over-farmed, genetically modified tuna, for example, they can be caught in the wild. Bun himself plans on supplying his eatery’s fish by hunting and diving, from Long Island Sound to the Everglades, aiming to rebuild the relationship between the predator and prey.
His hands on approach could come from growing up in Connecticut, where he was surrounded by nature. His scientist dad and nutritionist mom taught him to use what was available and healthy. “I never thought of it as environmental,” he said, “I always knew, no matter what I made, it had to be important for me as well as others. And everyone is connected through food.” And true enough, our relationship with what we eat doesn’t begin and end at the table. It extends beyond the kitchen, to the farm, and takes us out into the wild.
Coinciding with Miami’s Wine and Food Festival, the restaurant will be open to the public from February 24th through April 30th