Chef Adrianne Calvo
My story begins in 1984. As a young kid growing up in Florida to Cuban born parents, I wasn’t running home after school to kick around a soccer ball or check out the latest video game, I was running into the kitchen to help my mom put dinner on the table.What I would learn later in life is these countless days spent watching her sprinkle a little bit of this and mixing in a little bit of that into sumptuous dishes that my family and I would relish in together is what inevitably started my drive to become a chef.
After a scheduling mistake in high school that landed me in a cooking class rather than a journalism class on THE day hospitality giant Johnson & Wales University came to do a presentation, my professional journey began. And yes…I do believe in fate! I entertained my competitive side with a slew of cooking competitions and was fortunate enough to be called upon by the Florida Marlins to cater the 2003 World Series. After graduating Johnson & Wales University I took a position with Five Diamond Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami where I learned first-hand from Executive Chef Patrick Lassaque the good, the bad and the ugly of the restaurant business. Shortly after, I landed in Napa Valley to stage with the great Chef Thomas Keller and Chef Cindy Pawlcyn. I still pinch myself that I was able to gleam even a sliver of knowledge from these remarkable chefs.
While some people thought a teenager had no business writing a cookbook, I had so many ideas, recipes, food memories I wanted to make a reality since I was a small child that a book seemed like a natural next step. I mustered together what I could and self-published my first book Maximum Flavor but the sales struggled. Did I bite off more than I could chew? Possibly. Then, as fate may have it, the phone rang and a producer with the Montell Williams show claimed to be on the other end (though I was convinced I was being pranked by a friend). They were doing a show on inspiring young entrepreneurs and wanted to invite me, the teenage cookbook author, on the show. I was blown away and humbled beyond belief and it was thanks to that appearance that I sold enough books to start a restaurant in the first place.
We opened Chef Adrianne’s in 2007 in a strip mall in Kendall. As a 22 year old just starting out, my resources were limited and this was where I could afford the four walls I needed to realize my dream. There were the obligatory naysayers that quipped about the location but as people started to eat my food and taste my passion on a plate, it was their opinion that mattered most. Soon Chef Adrianne’s began to be noted as a “hidden gem” or a “destination dining must” and that was good enough for me. We saw the restaurant through the recession with just me and my trusted Sous Chef, Eglis Siu, in the kitchen and came out on the other side and next year we will celebrate our 10th anniversary!
I still don’t know how some of these went from idea to printed word but I can now count four cookbooks under my belt. I know I have many people to thank including my hard working team and my incredibly supportive friends and family. The complete collection now includes: Maximum Flavor (2005), Chef Adrianne: Driven by Flavor Fueled by Fire (2008), #MaximumFlavorSocial (2014) and Play with Fire (2015).
And that’s my story in a nutshell. If you stop by Chef Adrianne’s for lunch or dinner, be sure to pop into the kitchen to say hi!