Chef Gilberto Smith Alvarez, newly arrived from Havana on his first visit to the United States, is standing in the maw of American capitalism at its most voracious.

Next door, Brickell City Centre, a $1-billion, nine-acre development, is consuming the heart of the Brickell financial district, a hustle of hard hats and dust swirling in the street as three teal-glass towers sharpen toward the sky.

"It's good," Alvarez says, nonchalantly, of Miami. He is not here to sightsee.

The 36-year-old chef has come to South Florida as part of an entrepreneurial exchange program created by the not-for-profit Cuba Study Group, with support from the Knight Foundation. Alvarez is one of four chefs, from some of Havana's most successful privately owned restaurants, who spent a week working shifts with their peers in nine popular Miami kitchens to develop solutions to challenges they face in Cuba's evolving dining scene...



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