Young chef Adrianne Calvo’s wowing them down South

It’s not about notoriety for her. After all, 24-year-old Chef Adrianne Calvo opened up her Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in the middle of a quiet Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood. Her friends and confidantes advised her against it they said she was crazy to open up in a strip shopping mall in such a remote location. But Calvo likes to do things her way and went against all advice and opened up in her spot anyways, right where she wanted and it seems, her gut instinct was right. She’s got a winner.

But it’s no surprise, this gutsy chef and restaurateur learned in high school, completely by accident, that food would one day be her career. It was during her sophomore year at Braddock Senior High School when she was mistakenly placed in a home economics class. Not having chosen the course, she rolled with it and remained in the class. Everything changed though, when a group from Johnson & Wales University gave a class demonstration and Calvo found herself in awe of the mastery that the student chefs displayed in creating their dishes. She became fascinated with the world of cooking and jumped head first into the culinary world and shortly thereafter established a Future Homemakers of America Chapter solely for cooking at Braddock.

The natural progression from there was to enroll at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami where she honed her skills. She made her mark her freshman year, taking third place in the school’s “Taste Down Under” competition which gave her the opportunity to cook for world leaders at the United Nations. The next year she had her eye on the prize and as the finalist representing Florida took first place and again cooked in New York, this time for major food writers, among them renowned chef, author, contributing editor and radio and television expert Maureen Petrosky.

Immediately, Petrosky suggested Adrianne do a cookbook and receive some media training from the folks at Food Network. She headed to Massachusetts for an intense weeks-long training where she learned how to cook and speak in front of the camera which eventually led to her show “Maximum Flavor” on the local NBC6 station and her cookbook of the same name.

Her stint on NBC6 continues and her restaurant is going strong. Her taste in classic, no-frills decor is evident throughout her restaurant. She talks about the copper tiling behind the bar, lighting throughout and wine barrels displayed on the walls that were all brought from Napa. That’s where her mentor, chef/owner Thomas Keller runs The French Laundry, a restaurant inspired by his love of the 3-star country restaurants in France and much like Calvo’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, is in a remote location in Napa Valley that folks still flock to.

“He’s the one that taught me that no matter where you are if you’re passionate and you serve food you love, people will come,” she said. And she’s seeing this in her restaurant where her Dark Dining themed nights are a huge hit. It’s a dining concept that was first introduced in Europe she says and something she discovered while researching and reading up on the latest trends in restaurants, something that takes up much of her time.

“In Europe it’s done where diners eat in minimal like where they can barely see what the course is in front of them, forcing them to use all their senses when tasting the food.,” she said. “During our themed nights, guests come in and are not told what’s being served. They are then blindfolded and as each course is presented the reactions are based on everything but sight and the experience is ultra-sensory. It’s phenomenal.”

And what diners get is a veritable smorgasbord of delightful and carefully prepared dishes off an intricate menu that includes a luscious shrimp appetizer with basil aioli in a balsamic reduction, an entree of crispy wild mahi served over wilted spinach, creamy mashed potatoes and surrounded by a homemade chili sauce or the slow-roasted pork wontons with a guava glaze and queso blanco.

Calvo’s menu, much like her personality, continue to evolve and change as she finds new and interesting ways to present her food and please her customers so no matter how remote a locale, it’s worth a visit just to see what this dynamo will cook up next.

Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar

11510 SW 147 Avenue
Miami, FL 33196
P. (305) 408-8386

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