MILA Group, the Miami Beach restaurant concern, has announced the culinary team for its upcoming Winter Park restaurant, Ava MediterrAgean, which will occupy the former Luma on Park space.
Hung Huynh, the season-three winner of the cooking-competition show Top Chef, will be the executive chef. Huynh, who was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but raised in Pittsfield, Mass., is a 2002 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. (He earned money for his culinary training by working at a teppanyaki restaurant in Puerto Rico where he had to fake an Asian accent.)
Huynh’s resume included stints at New York’s Lespinasse and Per Se and the Las Vegas Guy Savoy. Following his 2007 win on Top Chef, he led the kitchens at Catch NYC and The General.
Ava’s culinary team also includes Daniel Garner and Erick Melendez as MILA Group’s corporate head chef and corporate research and development chef, respectively. Garner was previously senior sous chef at Nobu Malibu and Melendez was with Zuma in Miami, New York, London and Rome.
MILA Group also released renderings of the interior, which is designed by Olya Volknova, who also did the design for the group’s Miami Beach restaurant, MILA.
Volknova had the same constraints of the lounge area, pictures at top, that plagued Luma, in that a massive column, necessary for holding up the rest of the building, hampers a free-flowing bar. From the rendering, it appears she has moved the bar top, in front of the column, essentially creating two shorter seating areas on either side. At Luma, the bar top flowed in front of the column, forcing whoever sat there to stare at it.
But another of the renderings appears to show another bar in the main dining area.
And as with Luma, the restaurant will feature an open kitchen.
The downstairs space – originally a bank vault but used by Luma for private dining – will be known as The Lounge, with its own bar, a DJ, and premium bottle service, for members only. (Best of luck with that; Miami Beach this ain’t.)
Although an opening date for Ava has not been announced, “early 2022” is the promise.