Behind every great restaurant, there’s a creative, talented force that brings forth passion, dedication and excellence to every bite. The partnership between Chef Sean Brasel (38) and co-owner David Tornek exudes such dynamic force that after 12 years together they continue to create the hottest see-and-be-seen restaurants in the business, by virtue of Brasel’s exquisite cuisine, Tornek’s innovative concepts, and their combined talent for exceeding diners’ expectations. Their latest creation, Meat Market – a sizzling contemporary American steakhouse with a NYC vibe that has taken the city by storm.
Born in Colorado, Brasel dreamed of being a chef as a young boy. He got his start as a sous chef at Cliff Young’s in Denver, taking the helm shortly thereafter. The talented chef soon won a prestigious scholarship to Madeline Kamman’s School for American Chefs in Napa Valley, beating out more than 2,000 applicants. Upon graduation, Brasel returned to Denver to start a restaurant-consulting business, and it was while he was working at an Italian concept, that he met his future business partner, David Tornek. In 1994 they opened several successful restaurants in Colorado, then relocated to South Florida, launching Touch in the heart of South Beach on Lincoln Road. The restaurant went on to garner acclaim for Brasel’s ambitious contemporary American cuisine as well as a well-earned reputation as a see-and-be-seen hotspot by virtue of its sexy ambiance, celebrity diners and offbeat entertainment.
As Touch restaurant quickly gained notoriety, Brasel became a go-to talent for off-site catering, eventually leading to the creation of Touch Catering in 2005. A wildly successful venture from the get-go, Touch Catering has drawn big name clients (the Super Bowl and BMW to name a few) and positioned Chef Brasel and David Tornek as superstars in South Florida’s catering circuit. Now, the duo recently launched an exciting new division Glatt Kosher Touch – Touch Catering’s new full-service, high-end kosher division. “Finding kosher catering is one thing, but finding impeccable, delicious and well-presented kosher catering is another,” says Brasel, who hand tailors events for any taste or budget – from breakfast spreads for busy execs to weddings, Sabbath dinners, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and lavish affairs.
After taking an amazing offer and selling the building where Touch restaurant was situated, Brasel and Tornek focused much of their work on bringing the contemporary American steakhouse into the 21st century with Meat Market. “Touch had such an amazing run and remained successful since it opened in 2000, but it was time to bring forth a new, fresh concept to the South Florida dining scene,” says Tornek.
For Meat Market, Brasel has created a menu that embraces the staples of a classic steakhouse – a variety of prime cuts, generous portions of innovative seafood, amazing sides and appetizers, top notch wine list – but infuses it all with an artful, contemporary spin. “We want to appeal to those looking for a more ‘traditional experience’ as well as more adventurous diners,” he says. To that end, Meat Market also features a posh Crudo Bar, an eclectic, sumptuous raw bar featuring seafood delicacies, as well as an affordable bar menu ideal for a light bite or dinner, with a perfect perch for people watching. Menu standouts include tropical braised “fatty” brisket with coconut, mango, Cuban sweet potatoes and wild mushrooms; Kobe skirt steak with lemongrass, ginger and roasted local chili; buffalo tenderloin steak with a chili and espresso rub, topped with bittersweet chocolate mole butter; and a wild African pheasant roasted with tamari and braised chicory. Sides also delight with truffle creamed corn, lyonnaise potatoes with blue cheese gratin, wood roasted hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, summer squash cobbler, brown butter popovers, and green chili cheddar corn bread.