Sweet and spicy brown sugar-crusted salmon

Sweet and spicy brown sugar-crusted salmon (Courtesy / October 9, 2013)

Name: Adrianne Calvo

Title: Chef/owner

Location: Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, 11510 SW 147th Ave., Miami; 305-408-8386, ChefAdriannes.com

Age: 29


Pictures: Oktoberfest in South Florida

Time at this location: Six years

Style of food prepared: Eclectic

Background: Calvo grew up in Miami in a Cuban-American family with strong traditions.

"Anything was a reason to celebrate with food — birthdays, holidays, etc. Someone learning to tie their shoelaces was reason enough to roast a whole hog, get the large pots and pans ready, because everyone was coming over," she says. "It was important to make everything incredibly delicious and 100 percent from scratch — a motto I use today.

"Even though I always loved food, it wasn't until I was 16 that I realized I wanted to be a professional chef."

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University's culinary program, she worked at the Mandarin Oriental Miami for six months before opening her restaurant in Kendall at age 22 with earnings from her first cookbook, "Maximum Flavor." Her cookbook got a boost on "The Montel Williams Show" in 2005, and her second one, "Chef Adrianne: Driven by Flavor, Fueled by Fire," followed in 2008.

In addition to her Cordon d'Or Culinary Academy Award for Florida this year, Johnson & Wales and Miami Magazine honored her with a Zest Award for Reader's Choice Award Best Restaurant.

She hosts a TV segment, "Maximum Flavor Live," at 11:30 a.m. Thursdays on NBC's "6 in the Mix."

Q: What's your best attribute when it comes to work ethic?

A: I'm real. I may be on TV and stuff, but I'm at my restaurant almost every single night cooking for my guests. I really do create the specials I put on my social media outlets, and I'm at the helm of my stove making it for them.

Q: What are your other passions?

A: Writing and music. Writing is exactly like cooking for me: completely based on inspiration, and when done well, should be a reflection of yourself.

Q: Where do you like to go for culinary travel?

A: Napa Valley, or really just wine country California. That's where I got inspired to open Chef Adrianne's when I was 19. It's like America's little Europe. The connection between the food, wine, and people there is out of this world.

Q: What are your two favorite dishes on the menu?

A: The 24-hour braised short ribs ($40) because they are outrageously delicious, fall-off-the-bone tender, simple perfection. And the crispy goat cheese, fig and truffle ($16) because nothing speaks wine country louder than that.

Q: Name an ingredient you feel is underappreciated.

A: Kosher salt, even in desserts. Sometimes, as cooks, we get all crazy with different flavors and combinations and forget to realize that without the appropriate amount of a good quality salt, it would all be horrible.

Q: What's been your proudest moment?

A: I had promised St. Jude Children's Research Hospital $10,000 if I won "Chopped" on the Food Network. I came in second place, so that didn't happen. However, I didn't give up on my promise. But seven months later, as it turns out, I won $20,000 in the National Master Holiday Chef Challenge and was able to give St. Jude's what I once promised them.

Q: What do you consider your all-time masterpiece?

A: The lamb dish I created for a cooking contest called "Taste Down Under" when I was 17. It was for scholarship money for Johnson & Wales University. To this day, I use my same recipe for lamb at Chef Adrianne's. It's bold and rustic with bits of a good quality thick salt ($41).

— Susan Bryant