Tastemaker 17 is Marc Falsetto, founder and CEO of ROK:BRGR Burger Bar and Gastropub in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
You've probably noticed that gastropubs serving up craft beers and hand-crafted burgers are pretty popular these days. And for good reason - craft burgers and craft beers are two of the greatest things to ever have the word craft put in front of them.
What you may or may not know, is that ROK:BRGR and its founder Falsetto were at the head of the crashing tidal wave that is the gastropub trend.
Instead of just slinging plain beef patties and fries washed down American lagers, Falsetto's burgers are culinary creations made from Kobe beef with toppings like fried eggs and lobster. And instead of just fries, how about a helping of poutine? Nowadays, every bar in town is expanding their craft beer selection but they most likely wouldn't be if ROK:BRGR hadn't lead the way, giving locals a thirst for more than the average six pack.
The most influential person in my career has been...
The most influential person in my restaurant career has definitely been my father. He is my mentor, business partner and best friend. He has showed me everything about this business from the ground up. He has been in the restaurant industry for over 45yrs and still puts in 60hrs a week, you have to admire that! I have never met anyone else with his dedication and commitment.
When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
When I am not eating one of my award winning burgers my guilty pleasure is pasta. I am Italian so I am a sucker for my homemade sunday gravy with short ribs, sausage and meatballs over rigatoni and a scoop of ricotta. What is better than that!!!
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
Rok:Brgr was the first gastropub to open in Broward county and we have come along way educating the consumer on farm to table and high quality and sustainable ingredients, craft beers and fine spirits. People told me I was crazy for serving American Kobe from Snake River farms or using pork belly and exotic ingredients on our burgers but the reaction was just the opposite. People love us and want more outside the box items! I would like to see more restaurants that are chef driven like us and focus on fresh, local and high quality ingredients that also have a specific theme or cuisine. Too many restaurants in Broward and Palm beach try to please everyone and are scared about taking the culinary leap to the next level. Once we do this we can create a dining scene similar to New York, Chicago and now Miami. I am determined to make this happen with my vision and one of my new concepts!!
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
Chef's using foam! There is no need for it on dishes and it is plain stupid. It definitely has to go away for ever. My opinion.
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
Hmmm...Let me see. My dream is own a ultra high-end restaurant. With unlimited funds I would love to revitalize the American Steakhouse with a more modern and comfortable approach. Chef and mixologist driven boutique style steakhouse with only 15 tables serving only the highest quality meats available in the U.S. We do everything in house from Butchering to dry-aging and using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. The best of the best. After dinner you would go downstairs to my speakeasy and sip one of our handmade cocktails and sit on a plush leather sofa's and relax. I would call it THE BUTCHER & THE BARTENDER, that fits perfect.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That's a tough one. You can never plan the future in this industry but I see myself managing my chain of Rok:Brgr's with new locations in Delray Beach, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. Also growing one of the new concepts I have been working on. Oh yeah.. Being on the food network would be a plus. Outside of work I see myself married with two beautiful children living somewhere near the beach!
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
Wow. So many options on this one! I guess I would like to eat with all the people that have influenced me in business and in my life. Okay lets go for it: Steve Jobs because he is the ultimate visionary. Michael Jordan the greatest athlete of all time. Jay-Z because he started from the bottom and is on top, Al Pacino my favorite actor. Anthony Bourdain because he is the ultimate foodie and a loose cannon, and Jennifer Love Hewitt because she is my high school crush and we need some eye candy at the table. Now lets EAT!!
New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous 2013 Tastemakers are listed below.
22. Vaughan Lazar of Kapow!