Chef Adrianne Calvo finds roads where none exist and starts building. A passionate Latina with a flare for thinking outside the box, she has earned countless awards and acknowledgements along with praise from the media, fans, and peers. I sat down with Chef Adrianne recently to talk about how her passion for food first began, her experience as the youngest person to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s kitchen, and how she plans to expand the Chef Adrianne brand through the rest of 2013.
Born in Chicago and raised in Miami, Calvo experienced the full-force of Latin culture at a young age. This would lead her to a fateful day at the age of 16 when she discovered she could turn her love of food into a full-fledged career.
“Growing up in a Cuban family exposed me to many celebrations for birthday, holidays, any excuse really to have a party!” Chef Adrianne said. “There are a million reasons to celebrate and they all have to do with food. This is how my passion for it began. Soon after Johnson & Whales visited my class, I started competing. It was the Latin flavor that I infused into my food that helped me win, thanks to our unique range of ingredients.”
Calvo went on to attend Johnson & Wales University in North Miami in 2002 and after graduation she became the youngest chef to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Downtown Miami. This is where she mastered the art of pastry under Patrick Lassaque.
“I wanted an internship at a five diamond property, so I reached out the Mandarin Oriental,” Chef Adrianne said. “They didn’t have such an internship there at the time but I begged Tom Parlo, who was the executive chef at the time [for an opportunity]. He told me no at first because of my lack of experience but in the end, he admired my bravery and persistence so he took me under his wing. After three months as an intern, they hired me.”
Even though most of her official experience transpired during her time at the Mandarin, at the age of twenty-two, Chef Adrianne opened her first restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar. There you will find “five-star cuisine in an approachable way.”
Next, Calvo takes us into the world of dark dining…
Known by her fans for her catch phrase, “Maximum Flavor,” Calvo is a committed lifelong student of the culinary arts, finding inspiration from her fans and travels around the world. To stay ahead of trends, she scours the globe for ideas to bring back her largely Hispanic clientele at her popular South Miami restaurant. This is how her idea for “Dark Dining” came to fruition. During the once-a-month event, diners are blindfolded and treated to a themed menu.
“When we started doing Dark Dining four years ago, no one in Miami had done it,” Calvo said. “I had been following food trends that were coming from Europe to America and Dark Dining was one of them. I thought it was an amazing concept!”
Credited as the first chef to bring the concept to Miami, the fiery haired Cubana provides diners a surprise menu from varying regions of the world. This helps expose her Latino customers, once a month, to fare they might have found out of their comfort zone. In the past she has featured menus from Argentina, Cuba, France, California’s wine country, and Italy, to name a few.
“First we think of a theme, which is really based on a mood swing,” Chef Adrianne explained. “Do I feel like visiting Spain, Italy or Australia this month? Once I have decided, I do three weeks worth of research on that region and then I make up a sample menu and test out recipes.”
Looking ahead, there is no slowing down as she has plans to release a third cookbook this year and is working on opening a second restaurant in the Coral Gables/South Miami area in the near future. Fans can also tune in to the local NBC affiliate show “6 in the Mix” where she has a segment entitled, “Rock My Recipe.”
Next, get a taste of what Calvo is dishing up with her recipe for Grilled Gaucho Steak with Chimichurri Sauce…
Grilled Gaucho Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 bundle fresh flat leaf parsley
8 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
-BY ROSY CORDEROREAD IT AT THELATINKITCHEN.COM
Maximum Flavor Essentials