New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's culinary all-stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city a unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
The Forge is part of Miami Beach's history and the story of Shareef Malnik is forever entangled with the iconic restaurant.
After all, the restaurant was in the family for probably as long as Shareef has been alive, with his father Al purchasing the supper club in 1968. The senior Malnik demolished the already decades-old club and started from scratch to make The Forge the most opulent restaurant in Miami.
For the next two decades, The Forge lived up to its reputation and became the place for politicians and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Richard Burton, and Richard Nixon, to dine. Then, in 1991, a roof fire closed the restaurant and the next generation stepped in to once again have The Forge rise like a phoenix.
See also: The Forge Miami Beach In Pictures
Shareef Malnik reopened The Forge in November 1991, and less than one year later, Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida, causing severe damage to the restaurant's wine cellar to the tune of millions of dollars. Malnik, determined to succeed, didn't give up on the restaurant -- a gamble that paid off as The Forge remains one of the best loved restaurants in Miami Beach.
In addition to The Forge, Malnik was also involved with Cafe Nostalgia, Jimmyz, Cuba Club Glass, and was a partner with Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone, Jason Binn and Craig Robbins in the South Beach legend Bar None.
A graduate of the University of Miami's Business and Law School, Malnik is also passionate about a number of charitable organizations. Since 2005, he's served as gala chairman for the InterContinental Make-a-Wish ball and also serves on the board of the Miami Beach Police Athletic League.
Something of an "action figure", Malnik has run with the bulls in Pamploma; ice climbed the Cascades; hosted a safari in Tanzania; and is a licensed helicopter pilot. Not only that, Malnik is an accomplished ballet dancer, as evidenced in this video with Gabrielle Anwar:
In His Own Words
"The Miami food scene has historically been voluminous, but is now embarking on a journey of quality. In order to stay at the forefront, we all have to up our game -- there are better restaurants, chefs and food than ever before. At The Forge, we always keep an eye on the future in order to stay relevant."
Miami Food All-Stars
25. Dewey LoSasso
24. Mark Soyka
23. Jason Starkman
22. Lorena Garcia
21. Barton G.
20. Mike Hampton
19. Chef Creole
17. Cindy Hutson
16. Jack Homes
Let your voice be heard by voting in our Readers' Poll. Visit readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com by June 4. Then check out the 27th-annual Best of Miami issue, available online and in print Thursday, June 19, to see if your favorites won.