Our Team

Rufino Bautista

Executive Chef

Ruffino BautistaOriginally from Intipuca, El Salvador, was raised on a farm just outside of the city. As a young man, he helped his father with the daily chores of tending to the animals and maintaining the fields. This is where Chef Bautista developed his understanding and passion for food. In 1996, Rufino moved to Washington D.C. where he found restaurant work as a busser. Looking for something more challenging he applied to Asia Nora, where he first met Chef Haidar Karoum. Rufino started out as the restaurant’s expeditor, one of the most demanding positions in any restaurant. Chef Karoum took notice of Rufino’s abilities and brought him into the kitchen full time, where he taught him the fundamentals of technique.

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When Mark Kuller and Chef Karoum opened Proof they brought Rufino along, first as a line cook and subsequently as Proof’s sous chef. At Proof, Chef Bautista honed his culinary skills, helping Haidar and the kitchen create one of DC’s culinary destinations. When Estadio opened, Rufino was tapped to be the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine, where he works closely with Chef Karoum to fashion and execute Estadio’s contemporary but classic Spanish menu.

Max Kuller

Wine Director

Max KullerMax 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.

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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 to not quite finish a masters degree in “art” and elevate his disc golf game to the professional level. Out of financial desperation, Max started waiting tables at Proof, figuring since his pops owned it he could get away with almost anything. To his chagrin, that was not the case. At Proof, Max enhanced his already burgeoning wine knowledge and developed a love for and expertise in craft beer. When Estadio was opening, Max was tapped to be Assistant General Manager and resident Beermolier. Someday Max hopes to integrate his many passions into a mega (or Max) theme park to include disc golf, a hops garden and brewery, waterfalls, yummy vegetarian food, a beer and wine store, a junkyard, catacombs, treehouse lounges, and much more. Till then you can find him most nights smiling, directing staff, and greeting guests at Estadio.

Adam Bernbach

Bar Director

Adam BernbachAdam Bernbach’s love of mixing began at age seven with the production of an egg cream. His career in hospitality began not too long after in the resorts and restaurants of his native Cape Cod. Upon moving to Washington D.C. at 16, he soon began apprenticing at a micro coffee-roastery near his high school. It was as an apprentice and, later, as a roaster, when he first appreciated the importance of tasting. Moving from estate-grown coffees to illicit sips of single-malt scotch, he fell in love with well-crafted spirits, laying the foundation for an interest in mixology, still a bit down the road.

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After stints bartending at a pool hall, a jazz club, and an art-house movie theater, Adam became the Bar Manager at CafĂ© Saint-Ex. At Saint-Ex, in addition to building an extensive whisk(e)y list, he took the opportunity to share in his employers’ interests and begin an education in wine and beer. In 2006, Adam became the opening Bar Manager at PS7s Restaurant. There, working under ChefOwner Peter Smith, Adam was able to experiment with unusual ingredients and preparations in crafting a constantly evolving cocktail list. Later, Adam’s portfolio expanded to include wine, as well. In 2007, Adam returned to the Saint-Ex family as General Manager of their sister establishment, Bar Pilar. At Pilar, Adam worked with Executive Chef Justin Bittner to maintain a level of constant creativity. It was in this process that Adam created the Tuesday Cocktail Sessions, gaining through it a reputation for obsessive experimentation. In 2009, Adam assumed the position of Bar Manager at Proof where he once again had the good fortune of working with respected colleagues who were already good friends. Adam works closely with Executive Chef Haidar Karoum to craft drinks that mesh well with Proof’s cuisine and uphold Chef Karoum’s strong tradition of seasonality. In June 2010, Proof owner Mark Kuller asked Adam to also lead the spirits program at his new contemporary Spanish restaurant, Estadio. Adam is in familiar company at Estadio, working alongside his Proof colleagues Executive Chef Karoum, Chef de Cuisine Ruffino Bautista, and Wine Director Sebastian Zutant. His cocktail program at Estadio complements the restaurant’s contemporary Spanish theme and includes refreshing claritas, frozen alcoholic slushitos and inventive takes on Sangria.

Billy Chou

Bar Manager

Haidar KaroumBilly’s first venture into the industry was back in high school as a busser and food prep for a pizzeria in New Jersey. It was there that he first realized he could eat at the restaurant for free! Billy next attended Ithaca College and waited tables at a couple of restaurants, mostly to earn money to buy beer and go wine tasting. After Ithaca, Billy moved down to Miami, where he worked at Tarpon Bend as a server, and then as bar manager. In 2010, Whisk Gourmet, owned by Kristin and Brendan Connor, relocated from Coral Gables to South Miami, and Billy, a regular, decided to join the management team, principally to have his favorite restaurant’s food for free every night! It was at Whisk that Billy met Kristin’s husband, Mark Kuller. When Billy relocated to DC, he joined the team at Estadio and has been gaining weight steadily ever since.

Our Partners

Grizform Design – Architect
Potomac Construction Services – General Contractor
Jason Pasch – Website Designer