Latin Beat

Chef Miguel Aguilar Cooks Venezuelan Empanadas at VeritageMiami

Chef Miguel Aguilar will be serving his ropa vieja chicken empanadas and his skirt steak grilled skewer with chimichurri at VeritageMiami’s opening event, the Craft Beer Tasting.




    The chicken empanadas made by Chef Miguel Aguilar of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar are his bestseller. The small ropa vieja empanadas are served with cilantro crema, and instead of the traditional half mooned empanada, these are diamond shaped, like Indian pastries.

    Aguilar will be serving his empanadas and his skirt steak grilled skewer with chimichurri at VeritageMiami’s opening event, the Craft Beer Tasting.

    VeritageMiami, formerly known as the United Way Miami Wine & Food Festival, kicks off Wednesday and runs through Saturday. It will benefit United Way of Miami-Dade. The event is expected to attract about 3,000 people during the four days of food and wine tasting.

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    In addition to the food from Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, guests will be able to sample dishes from other Miami restaurants including Bloom, City Hall, the Daily Melt, Joe’s Stone Crab, Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, Oak Tavern, Pride and Joy, Shake Shack and Timó.

    “We expect a lot of people, it’s for a good cause,” Aguilar said. “It’s a very unique event.”

    He is certain that his Venezuelan-style empanadas will be a hit, just as they are with his customers and employees.

    “Since my staff started eating the empanadas at work, they only eat the ones from here,” Aguilar said. “They’ve abandoned the ones from their cultures.”

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    The recipe for the empanadas comes from the years Aguilar lived in Venezuela. He spent various years as a high mountain range tour guide, and constantly cooked for his guest.

    “When I was doing the tours I did the out of the ordinary cooking,” Aguilar said. “I would go to the markets, where the food was organic, without pesticides."

    Aguilar has focused on serving plates that keep the cooking ingredients simple, without over-cooking. He said he prefers to have ingredients close to their original state versus making something decorative.

    “I’m going back to old cooking, true cooking,” said Aguilar, who transformed the menu at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar from an à la carte menu to tapas, or small plates menu.

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    The small plates are what he calls “global tapas” with influences from Spain, the Middle East and South America, but always with a “Latin flair.”

    “It’s a lot more fun to share and pass plates back and forth. We like that concept a lot more” Aguilar said. “When I go out to eat with family and friends, it makes it more intriguing.”

    Aguilar will be cooking about 300 empanadas and 400 skewers for Wednesday’s event. He will be at one of the tasting stations for the Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls.

    “My food is simple, but it speaks for itself,” Aguilar said.