British ex-pats and locals alike are rejoicing. Award-winning British Chef Justin Brown has opened “The Chippy“, a pop-up at Balans Bar & Brasserie in Mary Brickell Village, serving authentic, home-cooked, classic English dishes. Balans, owned by a local British family, saw Brown on Instagram, reached out to him and offered him a job as Executive Chef. At the same time they offered a bonus: They would give him an opportunity to showcase The Chippy as a pop-up at their Brickell location. The pop-up’s name is the British slang term for a fish and chips shop.
After spending more than 15 years at the helm of some of the leading restaurants in the UK and Europe working alongside many famous culinary personalities, Chef Brown decided to relocate to Miami in January 2020. He wanted to explore South Florida’s burgeoning culinary scene and introduce his contemporary style of cooking to a region that is unfamiliar with modern-day British cuisine. His timing could have been better. However, he’s currently takeout and delivery at The Chippy, where he regularly sells out quickly, so call in early.
He’s received many awards in the culinary industry: Best Newcomer in the Great British Pub Awards; a winner of the best Pub Chefs of the Year Awards in the UK three Years in a row; Michelin Guide for 10 Years in a row; Best Fish and Chips UK, the Morning Advertisers Chef of the Year three years in a row; two AA Rosettes; and 6/10 Good Food Guide.
He is a Cookbook Author, penning Dining Through the Seasons, The Amsterdam Cookbook, The Henderson’s Relish Cookbook, and Tweet Treats. Brown has worked in some of the most recognized hotels and restaurants around the world, including The Landmark London (5 Star De-Lux, 1 Michelin Star); Montes with Jamie Oliver in Knightsbridge; The Carnarvon Arms with Robert Clayton (1 Michelin Star); The Harrington Club (Owned by Ronnie Wood); and Restaurant Amuse in Australia (3 Hats, Number 1 Restaurant in Western Australia).
Prior to moving to Miami, Brown lived in Amsterdam for five years where he opened various restaurants, including The Bao Bar at Karakter Baohuis and The Dirty Chicken Club. He consulted for food festivals and hotel groups, including Kriterion; The Juice Brothers; Conscious Hotels; The Ramen Festival and Taste of Amsterdam. Brown became Chef/Owner of Bao Buns Amsterdam and The Chippy, culinary concepts he plans to fully open in Miami post-Covid.
The Chippy was originally a concept created in Amsterdam that has become a huge success. What made you want to open in Miami?
My Wife is American so we always planned to move to Miami. The Chippy had great success in Amsterdam so I wanted to recreate that in a place that we wanted to settle down in permanently.
You came to Miami in January 2020. How do you feel about coming here and then having a pandemic hit just as you’re preparing to open a new restaurant?
It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but this is a pandemic, which has affected everyone around the world. It has of course had an impact, which is why I started The Chippy as a Pop Up to first see what the response was before looking at permanent locations.
You’ve worked in many places around the world. What location has influenced you the most?
That’s the good thing about my profession, every place I have worked influences me in different ways. My training in London helped me to learn the basics; working with Jamie Oliver opened my eyes to TV cameras and that side of things. And being able to travel doing a job I love gave me experiences all around the world, picking up bits of information from each place.
Comfort food is making a comeback. Do you think this is because we’re all stuck at home and can’t go out to dine in restaurants?
Comfort food will always be a front runner in the industry, I just think it’s definitely elevated more now because of the pandemic. People want a nice home cooked meal at an affordable price and that’s what I can offer. The Chippy is mainly a delivery concept anyway which is why there was no better time than now to bring a slice of England to Miami.
What are some of your classic favorites from across the pond?
The UK has so many classics; our entire eating habits are built on classics, which is what makes our food so good. Fish and Chips, a Sunday Roast, Scotch Eggs, Bangers and Mash, It really is endless.
As a newcomer to Miami’s gastronomic scene, what do you think of our cuisine, with its myriad influences, especially from Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as many other influences?
I love it, and its what excited me the most about Miami. I love Peruvian food, Cuban sandwiches, and tacos. The mix of cultures and cuisines is great!
What is your signature dish?
A double cooked shoulder of lamb, I won chef of the year in England making it and the recipe is in my first cookbook called Dining Through the Seasons. I also won “Best Fish and Chips in England” in 2011.
Did you create your own recipe for it?
The recipe is in my cookbook, Dining Through the Seasons. My website www.justinbrownchef.com also has my signature recipes available.
Tell us about your special batter recipe?
That’s a secret but it’s essentially a beer batter, and I am using local beer; all our suppliers are local.
Why is tangy lemon necessary in your Fish and Chips?
Lemon is a classic with all fish, to add acidity.
What are some of your other specialty menu items?
Besides Fish and Chips, our battered sausages and desserts are real classics. Plus we offer all the homemade sides like tartar sauce and mushy peas.
Do you think Miami’s influences will make their way into your menu items? (That usually happens.)
Never say never but at the moment I am sticking to British Classics, it’s what I do and it’s what people want, a real authentic experience.
What do you think about Miami’s vendors and food suppliers?
Trying to stick to a UK only concept in the middle of Miami has its challenges but all the suppliers have been great, I have made sure I support only local.
Has getting good products been a problem for you during Covid-19?
Yes, getting fresh food has been the hardest challenge and also delivery days and time from suppliers have been halved, it’s part of the reason we are only open 5 days per week to keep the quality and freshness perfect every time.
You mentioned Sarsons Malt Vinegar in your “Homemade Sides” on your menu. Why is it so special? Is it a British product?
Yes it is a British classic in all fish and chips shops, it a staple in the UK and a must with homemade chips.
What is “Pickled Egg?” Is it English?
A pickled egg is another classic, very popular in England which people enjoy eating with their Fish and Chips, another way to add some acidity into the dish.
Your desserts sound very unusual. I see you offer Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce, a traditional English dessert. Please tell us how “Battered Mars Bars” and “Battered Snickers” came to be English desserts.
Battered Mars Bar And Snickers are classics, which started in Scotland and the North of England. They are available all over the UK. Crispy on the outside and melted in the middle.
The Chippy pop-up at Balan’s Bar & Brasserie is now offering pick-up or Uber Eats delivery in Brickell only from Wednesday to Sunday between 4:00pm and 10:00pm. @TheChippyMiami