You are unlikely to encounter a more fantastically body-conscious bunch of people anywhere outside of the fantasy island enclave of Miami Beach. The pavement café catwalks of Ocean Drive are awash with taut blondes and shirtless muscle boys. It's all paid for, of course. Miami may have given us the South Beach Diet, but it would still rather airbrush itself than give up its fries and shakes.
Restaurateur, nightlife mogul and celebrity dentist Dr Tim Hogle is as much a part of the Miami Beach scene as palm trees and having your picture taken on the steps of the old Versace mansion. His latest venture, Afterglo, is an earnest attempt at reinventing the way we eat. Hogle's new concept, "beauty cuisine" (already trademarked) is essentially a mix of every significant healthy eating movement from the last two decades, from the Montignac method to the raw food movement. Everything has a low GI, is highly alkaline (which reputedly helps regenerate cells) and packed with enzymes, minerals and antioxidants.
It's a far cry from Hogle's famous Miami institution, Tantra, where the desperate-to-be-seen still fight for a table to order $97 (£55) surf and turf from its aphrodisiac-cuisine menu. Afterglo's interior is all eastern flourishes and Egyptian frescos, but the food belies any suspicion that you're in theme restaurant territory. Ingredients are either wild (mushrooms, venison, pheasant, sockeye salmon) or raw, and invariably organic.
So far, so health food. But the presentation and direction is anything but: grilled rib-eye of grass-fed bison with beet and goat cheese napoleon; sirloin of antelope with vegetable and pignoli faux ricotta tartlette, house-dried onion and tomato; are just a couple of samples from the menu.
"I've avoided the term healthy because it's the kiss of death," explains Hogle. "The presentation and décor are a deliberate attempt to get way from the idea that we might be serving rabbit food." The overall impression is of something gourmet and resolutely salad-free. The best dessert is a molten chocolate plate doused in extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with Celtic sea salt. It's innovative, and indulgent as it is, apparently, good for you.
Afterglo's ethos is similar to Michel Montignac's - that you can lose weight by careful selection from the menus of the best restaurants. Nothing here would look out of place at Ducasse or Robuchon.
"I read David Wolfe's book, Eating for Beauty, which details the healing properties of raw food," says Hogle, "and I thought it was amazing. But I wanted to explore things further."
From Wolfe's book, Hogle went on to discover the work of the physicist Erwin Schrödinger, a peer of Albert Einstein and author of What is Life? Key to Schrödinger's work is the concept of entropy and negative entropy (or syntropy). Put quite simply: syntropy is good energy, entropy is bad. Absorb the good from the right foods, and avoid the bad which is, essentially, killing you.
"Syntropy is order, or beauty," says Hogle. "We have lost the ability to see the syntropy in our food. The addiction to the American diet has made us obese. What I am doing with Afterglo is developing a new kind of eyesight, the ability to see the positive energy in the food."
Accessibility is the problem, of course. Afterglo is an oasis, where bread substitutes are crafted from dehydrated pistachio nuts and the meat has lived in herds and never seen the inside of a commercial slaughter house, but the rest of Miami is sodden in foie gras burgers and pizza. So what to do?
"Easy," says Hogle. "I am all about functional food. Food is overrated. I am 100 per cent strict about what I eat and if I can't get access to the right food for a while then I won't eat anything. Your body adapts. Hunger passes. It's just an alarm to tell you that your blood sugar is going down. So if you can't get the right food, just don't eat."
Afterglo, 1200 Washington Avenue, Miami, Florida, tel: 001 305 695 1717Reuse content