Soul Survivor

Miami's next top chef is in for the ride

You know you're in for a good conversation when your host immediately offers you a colada.

That's exactly what Sear'N Gears' Aleric "AJ" Constantin did when we visited him at his Design District abode where he and partner Camilo Blanco have been hosting the monthly Social Cena pop-up.

The experience is reminiscent of a Noche Buena-meets-art-collective, trading in abuela for artists of all mediums. "We want to break the tunnel vision barrier and preserve the integrity of a communal meal. It's been beautiful–everyone is talking across the table, becoming friends," the chef says.

In a city where chefs become mini celebrities and lose sight of their visions, Constantin has been on a journey to spread his passion for food, inspired by his Cuban upbringing and fitness background. Considering his eccentric meanderings–physical trainer, tattoo parlor apprentice and "fixie"–you wouldn't believe that he honed his skills in some of the town's most renowned kitchens (Eating House, NemesisMichael's Genuine, Mandolin Aegean).

You most likely know him as that ice cream bicycle guy that got arrested at Critical Mass. The time spent in jail was not wasted; Constantin stood up for a cause and simultaneously conceptualized both his business plan and the infamous Popo Pop. "People in Paris were talking about it! It was a blessing in disguise." He continues to pedal through his vision.

Alongside future collaborations with more local artists he plans on opening a restaurant in downtown Miami in time for Art Basel 2014, which will include Miami soul food essentials and speedy bike delivery service.

In the meantime, find him expanding his knowledge of curing and sausage casing at Miami Shore's Proper Sausage or converting his vending bike into a roving "hot box."

"I want to see us all come up together and help Miami in every sense of the artistic way."