Max Evan Kuller was born in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. At age 3, Max and his family moved to Maryland. With his mom’s great home cooking, and his dad’s penchant for finding the tastiest food wherever they traveled, Max’s palate was soon spoiled, and his expectations swelled to unreasonable heights. In high school, Max founded his high school’s ultimate Frisbee club and, against all odds, became a vegetarian.
He spent two years attempting to gain admission to Brown University. When finally accepted, he arrived in Providence, Rhode Island, created a funhouse called “telephone” and helped revolutionize the world of toy music. After Brown, Max found that none of the big philosophy companies were hiring, so he managed to scam his way into a job at Al Forno, a wonderfully innovative and delicious Mafioso hangout that reputedly invented wood-fired grilled pizza.
In 2005, Max relocated to DC and began waiting tables at Proof. It was there that he enhanced his already burgeoning wine knowledge and developed a love for, and expertise in, craft beer. When Estadio opened in 2010, Max was tapped to be Assistant General Manager and resident Beermolier, developing a strong passion for Spanish beverages.
In August 2013, Max joined the opening team at doi moi located at 14th and S Streets, NW in Logan Circle. Serving as wine director of the new Southeast Asian restaurant provided a great challenge for Max, who was able to explore a range of eclectic wines to pair with the fiery regional cuisine. Managing the wine programs at both doi moi and Estadio keeps Max’s dance card quite full, and you will still find him some nights smiling, directing staff, and greeting guests at the restaurants.
A Cape Cod native, Bernbach’s restaurant career began at an early age in the resorts of his Massachusetts hometown. A move to DC, when he was 16 found Bernbach furthering his passion for hospitality by apprenticing at a coffee-roastery near his high school. Eventually he traded sips of estate grown-coffee for single-malt scotch and a few bartending stints later, became the Bar Manager at Café Saint-Ex, where his extensive whiskey list showcased his passion for well-crafted spirits.
It was in 2006 as Bar Manager at PS 7’s Restaurant that Bernbach began laying the foundation for a career in craft bartending, while simultaneously furthering his wine education. With encouragement from Chef/Owner Peter Smith, he began introducing unconventional ingredients and culinary techniques to his cocktail menu.
One year later, Bernbach returned to the Saint-Ex family as General Manager of their sister establishment, Bar Pilar, also located on DC’s 14th St. It was during this time that he debuted and developed a cult following for his “Cocktail Sessions,” where every Tuesday he would debut five original drinks on a handwritten menu.
In 2009, Proof’s owner Mark Kuller tapped Bernbach to lead the bar at the award-winning modern American restaurant. At Proof, Bernbach demonstrated an unerring eye for crafting cocktails complementing Executive Chef Haidar Karoum’s seasonal cuisine.
In 2010, Bernbach returned to 14th St. as the opening Bar Manager for Estadio, Proof’s sister restaurant and a contemporary Spanish themed establishment led by Chef Karoum. Bernbach’s cocktail menu at Estadio showcases the flavors of Spain through inventive sherry cocktails, gin & tonics and seasonal frozen alcoholic “slushitos,” a runaway hit gaining mentions in notable food publications such as Food & Wine, The Washington Post and Serious Eats. In 2012, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington awarded Estadio “Best Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year.”
With the opening of doi moi in September 2013, Bernbach teams up for the third time with Chef Karoum. At doi moi, Bernbach creates drinks complementing the restaurant’s Southeast Asian cuisine. Located at 1800 14th St. NW in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, the basement of doi moi houses 2 Birds 1 Stone, a curated cocktail bar. At 2 Birds 1 Stone, Bernbach’s hand drawn menus once again find a home, this time featuring a weekly mix of classic and contemporary cocktails demonstrating a wide array of culinary-driven ingredients and innovative techniques.