Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sneak Peek- the Latin side of George Formaro

As if the zombies weren't enough of a clue, now it's obvious- he is going to take over the world!!!! The culinary world in Des Moines, Iowa, that is. Who is he? Chef George Formaro, Des Moines native, horror film enthusiast, restaurant genius. Founder of several outstanding and successful restaurants in Des Moines and partner of Orchestrate Management, he has added another feather to his cap, this time with a Latin flair- Malo. Back in 2012 I sat in on a cooking demo of George's at the World Food Festival in Des Moines. He prepared barbecoa and hinted at a new venture with a Latin flair. Starting mid-May, we will all get to experience the new Malo.

The old saying "It's all about who you know" really does hold a lot of truth. I happen to know the manager of this brand-new, not-yet-opened restaurant and today was treated to a tour of the restaurant. Of course The Chef and I said YES! I have never worked in nor opened a brand new restaurant. I've been in a couple kitchens over the years (of course The Chef has opened and worked in MANY kitchens) so for me this was a particularly exciting tour. Malo is housed in the old Des Moines Fire House #1. 

Just needs some outdoor signage!

The patio and trees will soon fill the sidewalk
Malo shares the building with The Des Moines Social Club, which is another fun-filled nightspot many locals love. Inside Malo's expansive dining room are very few reminders of the old fire station, but the hole in the ceiling where the pole once was is still visible. 

The main dining room is enormous. Bench style seating lines a dividing wall and has beautifully designed upholstery in muted versions of the bright ceiling tiles suspended above and crocodile embossed seating.

West End Architectural Salvage designed much of the accents in the dining room, repurposing interesting materials to give the walls some texture. The tables are beautifully finished wood, and the bar-side seating features plenty of high-top and large-group tables, interesting artwork, and unique lighting. 

I LOVED the light fixtures. The hostess station was also designed by West End Salvage and is surrounded by amazing artwork.

But the kitchen........oh the kitchen. All the stainless steel appliances, sixteen burners, ovens, stacks of gleaming saute pans, stainless steel utensils lining the racks. 

Something I have never seen before, a state of the art tortilla press, sits ready for house-made tortillas. Walk-ins as big as my HOUSE. Part of the kitchen is "open" to the bar area, and there is an expansive prep area behind that. I can just imagine the energy in the room when the restaurant opens and the staff is juggling tickets and making it all come together. 

In addition to all the indoor seating Malo will also feature a large patio street-side and a large courtyard in the back with seating for dining and an outdoor movie theater. Large banquet facilities are on the second floor of the old fire house. It's truly an amazing location.

Sorry about the burry snap- I was just too excited and in awe!
Because my "in" at Malo is the new manager, my daughter Laurie, I am looking forward to the preview friends and family tasting- I can't wait to check out the menu and see the finished space and all the amazing dishes created by George and his chefs. If it's anything like the's going to be killer!

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