Interview with Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar


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Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar is a pleasant surprise. Tucked away in a shopping center in the heart of the Hammocks neighborhood of Miami, one would not expect it to be as nice as it is given its location. With a Martino Tire steps away and new shopping centers minutes away, one could easily miss this restaurant. The restaurant, however, proves to be a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The inside is all warm colors with a wall made of barrels labeled Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling and a bar lined with copper tiles and wine racks. The restaurant is decorated with pictures of Chef Adrianne Calvo, her travels to Napa Valley that served as the inspiration for her restaurant, and newspaper articles; all a reminder that the restaurant is a true labor of love that needs her today just as much as it did when Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar first opened in 2007.

Chef Adrianne’s resume is full of plenty of accolades and is a true testament to her skill and love of cooking. Despite all her accomplishments, which include graduating at the top of her class at Johnson and Wales University and two cookbooks (Maximum Flavor and Driven by Flavor Fueled by Fire), Chef Adrianne is thankful for the success of her restaurant and is acutely aware that she will never be safe in the ever-changing restaurant business. Over a Strawberry Shortcake dessert featuring Driscoll’s strawberries, Chef Adrianne discussed everything from being a chef-owner to tension with the critics.

How would you introduce yourself to someone who knew nothing about you?

If I was meeting someone for the first time and they had absolutely no idea of who I am I would just say, “Hey, I’m Adrianne. I love to laugh and I love to cook.” Let them figure out the rest on their own.

How would you describe your restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar, in five words?

Chef Adrianne’s Is Maximum Flavor Social#.

What is it like owning a restaurant and being the chef?

I’m a chef and a chef-owner. I’m not the only one that does it. I have the long hours, but there is nothing better than actually making a dish and then having your guests say, “Hey I want to meet the chef and say thank you for how awesome the dish is.” I go out to the tables and there is nothing more gratifying than that.

What is the process for creating the menu for your restaurant?

Creating the menu at Chef Adrianne’s is pretty funny because it’s really what I’m in the mood for. It’s what I’m currently obsessed about so it goes back and forth. Sometimes I’m really into Southwestern flavors; sometimes I’m really into Asian flavors. Whatever I’m into I really research and refine and then I bring that to my guests.

How often does the menu change at Chef Adrianne’s?

The menu changes when I get inspired.

Do you put the finishing touches on every single dish?

Well, what we are noted for here is that every dish gets an A before it leaves the kitchen. That is my signature. Nothing will leave the kitchen unless I see it.

What is your personal favorite thing to make?

My personal favorite thing to make…I don’t have that. I love to cook. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for because that’s how I go into it enthusiastically.

What is your personal favorite thing to eat?

My personal favorite thing to eat would be anything my mom makes.

What is your favorite thing your mom makes?

My favorite thing my mom makes, I think, is picadillo. In the Latin community that’s ground beef with a little bit of potatoes, olives, and raisins. I just love it.

What advice do you have for aspiring chefs?

What I would advise for any person wanting to become a chef is to not be afraid of hard work. It’s not a fairytale where you own a restaurant and have a TV show, you have to put in your 80 hours a week. You have to be willing to get your hands burned and wet.

What advice or tips do you have for encouraging people to give cooking and baking a try?

I would definitely encourage people to get in their kitchen and just cook. You don’t have to make a five-star chef dish or whatever; just make a simple pasta dish or a tuna sandwich. Cooking is a normal human act of nurturing one another and helping each other. It’s a simple pleasure. Make something delicious, make it together, and have a good time.

Since you have already accomplished so much at such a young age, what else do you hope to accomplish?

What’s left to accomplish? It’s funny because people ask me that a lot. I just want to keep on cooking and having my guests like it. Everything else that has happened has just kind of fallen into my lap and I am so grateful for that, for having such a great following. But, you know, if I could just keep on cooking. That’s it.

Do you plan on expanding or are you content now?

No, we plan on expanding. God willing, we’ll be expanding very soon.

In doing my research on you I came across two blog posts on the Miami New Times website written by Lee Klein. What do you make of the tension there?

He hates me because he thinks I’m fake. He’s labeled me “the fakest chef in the world.” He’s never met me, which is the funny part. I have a segment on NBC, a couple of cookbooks, and the restaurant so he thinks I’m just hungry for the limelight and I’m not a real chef, like I don’t cook. But if you see my arms, they are all burned up. I’m here everyday and I am literally here all the time. But he thinks the opposite and has labeled me all over the internet. It’s fine though, if you aren’t getting haters than you haven’t made it.

Tell me about your involvement with St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

I have a foundation called Make It Count. I lost my younger sister to cancer. Before she passed she wanted to make it mission to send out the message of making it count: every day, every second, everything. So then I made it my mission to help out the parents, the families, and especially the kids. We do events and we sponsor events. My staff from the restaurant and I go every year to St. Jude’s in Tennessee for the holidays and make a meal over at the hospital.

Now back to the Strawberry Shortcake featuring Driscoll’s Strawberries. Why make it now?

Because Strawberry Shortcake Day is June 14th. I use Driscoll strawberries in all my desserts here. This is a special dessert just for this week. This is all part of the flexibility we have with everything being made in house. Nothing is artificial.

Review of Strawberry Shortcake featuring Driscoll’s Strawberries

The strawberry shortcake dessert ($12) has all the basic elements: a “shortcake,” in this case made of shortbread cookies, strawberries, and whipped cream. Chef Adrianne ups the ante by adding a scoop of ice cream and making the serving size large enough to easily feed four. The use of shortbread cookies adds a buttery flavor to a dessert normally overpowered by the sweetness of the whipped cream and the tartness of the berries.

Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at 11510 SW147 Ave. in Miami, Fl. Restaurant hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11:00am-2:30pm for lunch and 5:00pm-10:00pm for dinner, Friday 11:00am-2:30pm for lunch and 5:00pm-11pm for dinner, Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm, and closed on Mondays. For more on Chef Adrianne Calvo and her restaurant, you can go to her restaurant website or Maximum Flavor Social# website.

-BY STEPHANIE DIAZ

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Maximum Flavor Essentials
Michael Beovides
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