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John Kulhanjian

John “JK” Kulhanjian has his work cut out for him. The director of restaurants for Adena Foods is not only in charge of the day-to-day goings-on of Gulfstream Park’s Adena Grill & Wine Bar {900 Silks Run, Unit 1740, Hallandale Beach; 954.464.2333}, but also its next-door neighbor, Frankey’s Sports Bar, also under the Adena Foods umbrella. DiningOut caught up with JK to discuss his current role, the unique farm-to-table concept of Adena Grill, and what’s in store for the Adena brand in the future.

1. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in the restaurant world? 
I am American-born, raised in Miami, and of Armenian descent. Our family life revolves around food and the next great meal. My grandfather, father, godfather, and three uncles were all in the restaurant business, so it was naturally in my bloodlines. My first restaurant job was working for my father during the summers in fast food fried chicken concepts.

2. How long have you been with Adena?
I have been with Adena for two years.

3. Why did you want to be a part of this concept?
I share a lot of the same philosophies with Frank [Stronarch, owner] and Giovanni [Arias, chef], having spent many years working for high-end steak restaurant chains. The Adena brand is all about something new and fresh that no one has done to this scale. The chance to bring a brand alive from ground level was most intriguing.

4. Describe what a typical workday is like for you.
A typical day is about 10 hours working in all facets of the restaurant to make it successful: building inspection for cleanliness and organization; making sure we do not run out of anything; meeting with chefs and the management team; mentoring employees; mingling with guests; doing quality checks of food and beverage; doing inventory; balancing labor and sales; planning out reservations, parties, and events; discussing marketing ideas; spending a lot of time working smart and not hard; and always trying to improve an area within.

5. What might surprise guests about Adena Grill?
Adena Grill is owned by Frank Stronach and he has personally designed the restaurant and picked out all of the accessories and furnishings. He is also a foodie and has a strong influence on the menu and recipes.

Adena Grill

Adena Grill Main Dining Room

6. Tell us about Adena Grill’s overall menu and its farm-to-table approach.
The menu is very similar to a steakhouse menu with some of our house specialties like roasted Bone Marrow. All proteins come from our farm [Adena Farms, which has approximately 90,000 acres in Ocala, Florida] handled by our employees, and delivered on our own truck to our restaurants; this has never been done before.

7. Do you have any personal favorite menu items? Or, what is a must-try for first-timer visitors?
Some of my favorite items and must-tries are the Bone Marrow, the Celery Purée, the Cowboy Steak, and the grilled Cauliflower Steak.

P3. Cowboy Steak Adena Grill

Cowboy Steak

8. Tell us a little bit about the restaurant’s wine program.
We feature an array of very affordable wines from around the world from over 12 countries mixed with some rare finds and unique vintages. There is something for everyone. There is a half-price “captain’s list” on Wednesdays and we try to bring in a few new wines every quarter to keep it interesting for our regulars.

9. What’s in store for the future of Adena Grill?
The plan is to open many more locations up the Eastern seaboard. We are also developing retail stores and butcher shops to feature our farm-raised proteins.

10. What is one guilty pleasure food you can’t live without?
Crème brûlée without the sugar on top—and sour cream and onion Pringles!

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

gulfstream park

Gulfstream Park {901 South Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach; 954.454.7000} is celebrating the holidays a little early this year by hosting a progressive dinner to benefit its annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Thanks and Giving Campaign. The dinner will take place tomorrow, December 3, from 7-10pm, and will begin at Pottery Barn with drinks and appetizers provided by Brio Tuscan Grille and Bomba Tacos & Rum. Next, guests will head over to Williams-Sonoma for live music and entrées by ROK:BRGR Bar + Gastropub. The evening will end on a sweet note with desserts and espresso at West Elm. Each store will have special product demos and guest appearances, including Telemundo star Federico Diaz and more.

To RSVP, register in store with a donation of $30 or register at the door at the start of the event. Click here for more information.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Chef Danny Elmaleh

It’s finally here! SBE’s highly anticipated new hot spot Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails {111 South Surf Road, Hallandale Beach; 954.699.0901} has officially opened its doors. Set on the sand in this up-and-coming neighborhood just north of Miami, Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails encompasses 10,000 square feet over three levels, including three full-service bars, private dining spaces and meeting rooms, a boutique retail store, a members-only rooftop area, and more. Its three distinct dining areas will be overseen by Chef Danny Elmaleh, the culinary mastermind behind many of SBE’s renowned restaurants, including the award-winning Cleo. Here, we talk with the experienced chef about his latest culinary venture.

1. Tell us a bit about your background. What made you decide you wanted to be a chef?
I’m originally from Israel. I moved to Japan when I was 9 and lived there for more than 20 years. Both my father and the original Iron Chef in Japan inspired my decision to go to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York.

2. How did you end up working with SBE? What drew you to the brand?
I joined SBE to help with the Katsuya brand seven years ago, and my role within the company has grown over the years. At the time, the innovative brand was reinventing the hospitality scene and that really drew me toward working with them.

3. What about Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails made you want to be involved?
The fact that it is a ground-up property right on the beach; it’s a rare opportunity to work on a project in such a great location.

4. Tell us about the overall menu concept.
The concept is new American, featuring great seafood classics that one can expect at such a location as well as exciting small plates and twists on traditional dishes that will leave guests yearning for more.

5. How do the menus differ from floor to floor?
The first floor serves a great breakfast from our Skinny Phat menu from 7-11am, offering healthy options as well as decadent over-the-top menu items. From 11am-6pm, we have our beach shack offering for guests who are looking to have a meal on the beach or at the bar. These are great options for families and groups.

The second floor is definitely the culinary highlight of the property, offering the full experience. Here, we offer great raw bar and crudo options as well as fresh pastas and pizzas and an incredible view. All of our seafood and meats are grilled over charcoal in our Josper ovens. There are also lots of exciting small plates options.

The third floor is our exclusive members floor with a small menu to enjoy by the pool and bar.

6. What are your personal favorite items on the menu?
The Pumpkin Butter Rolls! They are brioche rolls baked with butter, brushed with butter, and served with a side of butter. Nothing goes better with seafood than butter, so these are a great pairing for our seafood platter, and the perfect way to start the meal. The twist offered by the pumpkin and spice makes them one-of-a-kind.

7. What do you hope will surprise visitors when they dine here?
I hope people can experience new flavors they haven’t ever had before.

8. Do you have a favorite cooking show on TV?
I love watching Japanese cooking programs.

9. What local chefs or celebrity chefs do you admire?
Michael Pirolo of Macchialina; he always has great food.

10. Do you have a favorite food or food guilty pleasure?
In-N-Out Burger!

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Looking for ideas on where to eat this upcoming long weekend? From rooftop parties to new restaurant openings to Miami Spice specials, we’ve got you covered.  Here are Miami Labor Day 2015 happenings.

Friday, September 4:

Gale South Beach

Gale South Beach Rooftop

Bubbles & BBQ at the Gale South Beach
Kick off the weekend right on the rooftop of the Gale South Beach {1690 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.673.0199} for a Bubbles & BBQ soiree. The party starts early—at 6pm—which means you’ll be there to watch the sunset while sipping a glass of Veuve Clicquot accompanied by delicious barbecue bites. Sounds from local band Psychic Mirrors and DJ Michelle Leshem will be bouncing off the rooftop pool until 11pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.

Saturday, September 5:

Torrijas Piripi

Torrijas from Piripi

Brunch Espectacular at Piripi
Merrick Park’s newest restaurant Piripi {320 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables; 305.448.2423} has now expanded its popular Sunday Brunch “Espectacular” to Saturdays. New Executive Chef Angelina Bastidas shows off her culinary prowess with a twist on traditional Spanish cuisine, offering a three-course prix-fixe brunch menu for just $27 per person. In keeping with the true meaning of Piripi (Spanish for “tipsy”) you can also enjoy bottomless sangría and mimosas for an additional $17 per person.

Cheesecake from Oceanaire

Cheesecake from The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Dinner for two at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Head to Mary Brickell Village for dinner for a romantic evening at The Oceanaire Seafood Room {900 South Miami Avenue, Brickell; 305.372.8862}. For a limited time, the restaurant is offering a special three-course dinner for two plus a bottle of wine, all for just $75. Still full from brunch earlier in the day? Not to worry. This special is available from September 1-7.

Sunday, September 6:

american social

Sensation Sunday Party at American Social
Toast to having Monday off of work at American Social Brickell {690 Southwest First Court, Brickell; 305.223.7004} while enjoying tunes spun by DJ Madd Linx. Be sure to rock your best white attire, as it’s technically “unacceptable” to wear white after Labor Day. The party starts at 9pm, when ladies wearing all white will receive a complimentary glass of Champagne.

Monday, September 7:

Goat Cheese Salad from Brasserie Azur

Goat Cheese Salad from Brasserie Azur

Lunch at Brasserie Azur—Now Open
Brasserie Azur {3252 Northeast First Avenue, Midtown; 786.800.9993}, the highly anticipated sister restaurant to Miami Beach staple Villa Azur is finally open! Become one of the lucky firsts to experience a plethora of options, including a rotisserie station, a seafood bar, a massive wine list, a foosball table, hookah, and more. Oh, and the restaurant is offering a Miami Spice lunch menu, too (just $23 per person).

HYDE beach kitchen + cocktails

Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails

Mojito Monday at Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails—Now Open!
More brand-new culinary adventures await this Labor Day at Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails {111 South Surf Road, Hallandale Beach; 954.699.0901}. Mondays are dubbed “Mojito Mondays,” when you can enjoy $8 mojitos all night long. If you don’t make it in time for a table, you can enjoy your mojitos beachside. Watch the final sunset to the long weekend and toast to a delicious Labor Day weekend and the fall season ahead.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor