As craft beer bubbles into South Florida's mainstream Ryan Sentz and the Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery in only two short years have risen to the head of the pack.
Maybe it's the Maple Bacon Porter that has craft beer enthusiasts packing their bar three deep. Maybe it's the speakeasy vibe of their Boca Raton spot that often includes live bands and comedians. Whatever the case Sentz has tapped into South Florida's long-repressed desire for good beer and community, and Buddha's cup overfloweth.
He and co-Owner Giani Rocha will soon move the brewpub from its humble, 2,000-square-foot home where it all started in 2010, to a nearly 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Oakland Park.
Some people aren't fond of change. It's easy to understand why, but when change means upgrading to a brewing system 20 times larger than the one that's producing some of South Florida it's hard to stand in the way.
The most influential person in my career has been...
I would three say companies; Short's Brewing, Dogfish Head and Cigar City. They're three awesome craft breweries that also have been known to push the limits with ingredients and bring culinary aspects into their brewing.
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...
A Manhattan. I'm also a scotch drinker.
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
You're asking a brewer so I'd say more breweries, and it's happening. There are a lot more craft breweries popping up and I think it's a good thing.
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
I would say probably fusion restaurants. It's annoying, pick a style and be good at it as opposed to blending three different cuisines. I could do away with that, and crappy beer.
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
I'm doing exactly what I want to do, maybe I'd have a bigger place, actually not even that. I'd build exactly what we're building now, I just wouldn't have to worry about the money aspect which would be nice.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd like to just keep heading in this direction as far as becoming a regional brewery, have our beer not only in South Florida but across Florida and maybe some other areas of the country."
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
Thom Yorke, Sigmund Freud, my grandmother Natalie Laeton, Mitch Hedberg, David Cross and Bob Marley.
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!
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