Bradley Kilgore began his restaurant life by cutting biscuits while working as a dishwasher. Later, he started Alter, his first restaurant; and, in 2016 and 2017, won a James Beard Award. Today, he is chef-owner of Kilgore Culinary Group, which operates several restaurants.
As chef at Alter, Kilgore has twice been a semifinalist for a James Beard Award as Rising Star Chef of the Year, in 2016 and 2017. This year, he is a semfinalist for the James Beard Award in the category Best Chef: South.
His background includes stints at Chicago restaurants Alinea, L2O with Laurent Gras, and Epic. In Miami, Kilgore established his growing reputation at the restaurants Azul and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill before opening Alter.
He answered some questions for Florida Food & Farm’s Tastemakers series.
Question: Tell us about your first kitchen experience.
Answer: My first kitchen experience was cutting biscuits while working as a dishwasher at the Sante Fe Cafe in Kansas City.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool and why?
A: A Japanese chef’s knife, because of the long-lasting edge on the blade.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
A: Driven, engaging, curious.
Q: As a chef working in Florida, what do you get most excited about?
A: There are always new people who are in town that come into the restaurants, and I enjoy listening to their stories and sharing our creations with them.
Q: What are some of the local farms you work with?
A: Harpke Family Farm and the Little River Cooperative.
Q: Who has helped you get to the place you are now?
My wife, Soraya Kilgore. We met in culinary school and have been together for the past 14 years. She has supported me throughout my entire journey.
Q: How would you describe the local chef community — and how are you involved?
Although chefs are naturally very competitive, the Miami chef scene is supportive of each other because we all wish for the local culinary scene to grow.
Q: Back to your restaurant — why should we love the restaurant, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to the restaurant and to you as a chef?
A: All of my restaurants (Alter, Kaido, Brava, and Ember opening in May) are each very unique to themselves are designed for you to enjoy at different times in your life. We are always trying to be creative and offer new experiences.
Q: Is there anything on your agenda that we should know about?
A: The wood-fired concept I’ve been dreaming about for a decade, called Ember, which will be opening in a few weeks in Miami’s Design District, right below Kaido.