Over the years, Miami-born adventure seeker Shareef Malnik has been eager to take chances in pursuit of excitement, exotic experiences, and learning how to master arduous sports. He has ice climbed the Cascade Mountains, run with the bulls in Pamplona, and become a black belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s appeared in several films, including Just Cause and The Blackout, and executive produced a documentary. He also holds a law degree and an MBA from the University of Miami, and now he’s tackling his latest challenge: the reopening of The Forge, a Miami Beach staple that’s attracted celebrities and locals alike. The son of The Forge founder Alvin “Al” Malnik and his first wife, Debbie, Shareef Malnik took over the elegant farm-to-table restaurant in 1991. For all his professional commitments, Malnik notes that he makes his well-being a priority as well. “I want to be a better person,” says the 62-year-old from his circa-1924 Coconut Grove home shaded by 100-year-old trees. “I want to be stronger, more athletic, have better health, and improve my spirituality every single day.” His fast-paced life in cities like Miami, New York, and London would run most people down, but Malnik says he’s learned from each experience and credits his positive outlook on life to his wife, Gabrielle Anwar. The actress shares his passions for philanthropy, creativity, and spirituality. “We are blessed that we found each other,” he says. “We each have our own interests, yet we share so many things. We are fortunate and do not take each other for granted.”
The couple met 10 years ago during Anwar’s fortieth birthday dinner at Paradise Farms in Homestead. She started up a conversation with Malnik, who was selecting field-to-table foods for a menu at The Forge. They married in 2015. Born in Berkshire, England, Anwar left her rural Windsor home at age 13 to study drama and dance in London. At age 15, she landed a role in the BBC miniseries Hideaway and left school to travel with a tutor. “I thought I had died and gone to heaven after studying ballet and Shakespeare, then getting paid to actually do these things,” she recalls.
She’s since starred in more than 45 films and TV performances, including her breakout role in Scent of a Woman. She is also known for playing Princess Margaret in Showtime’s The Tudors. The busy actress moved to Miami to star as Fiona Glenanne, an ex-IRA soldier, in USA TV Network’s original series Burn Notice.
Today the mother of three balances her blended family life with her blossoming career. She’s currently working on more than a dozen projects, including an independent film that she hopes to direct and star in. “I have been writing a lot and am completely possessed by it,” says Anwar. “I want to have more control, a voice with material that is important to me. I want to be more female-sensitive in what I say.”
Anwar recently launched a parenting website called The Playhouse to help parents and children with teen angst and social acceptance. She sits on the board of Pikler USA, for which she speaks on early childhood care and its relation to mental health. She’s also active with The Centre for Integral Wisdom, a think tank dedicated to partnering with outstanding thought leaders and change agents to transform and evolve the source code of culture. “I am still rebellious and have big ideas,” says Anwar. “I like to influence others in everything I do.”
Even though the couple has offices inside their home, they rarely see each other during the day. Malnik is usually at his Nextwave Funding office (he serves as chairman of the board) or meetings about his repositioning of The Forge. The romantic restaurant/boîte, which his father bought in 1968 and designed with stunning furnishings and European art, has been reimagined and renovated many times over the years. This new unveiling, however, will usher in a new chapter when The Forge reopens in the coming months after being shuttered for more than a year. “The Forge legacy will continue with incredible new surprises,” says Malnik. “That is all I can say for now.”
Together, the couple engages in many philanthropic projects, including supporting animal charities and rescuing pets. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, they delivered gourmet meals by Michelin-star chef Chris Lee to those working night shifts at Mount Sinai and University of Miami medical centers during the height of Miami’s spring quarantine.
One of the most integral parts of their lives is the rewarding work they do for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, for which Malnik is chairman of the board emeritus. He was introduced to the charity in 1995 and became drawn to its mission to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Over the years, he has worked in all areas of the charity, making it bigger and better, and instituting positive, business-savvy initiatives to raise awareness. “We have raised $30 million since the first ball,” notes Malnik, who’s preparing for a February fundraising gala in Miami.
Norman Wedderburn, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida sings Malnick’s praises: “Make-A-Wish is in Shareef’s DNA. He incorporates the charity into every aspect of his life—family, professional, and civic.”
Once Malnik brought his wife on board as co-host of the annual ball’s silent auction, their own style of glitz and glamour began dazzling guests at Miami’s dreamy InterContinental hotel. With big-ticket acts such as Steven Tyler, John Legend, Marc Anthony, and Lenny Kravitz, the event draws prominent residents—and signals Malnik’s global reach as a philanthropist.
“Shareef serves as a true beacon for our community,” shares David Grutman, founder of Groot Hospitality. “He is a role model when it comes to philanthropy. When you spend time with him, the will to give and make Miami a better place is contagious.”
Anwar also admires her husband’s goals and accomplishments. She is proud to be by his side at Make-A-Wish events and every day of their lives, whether they are walking in the Grove, practicing yoga at home, or visiting an Italian monastery. “Shareef and I are happy,” she says. “I found my Zorba the Buddha, an artistic and spiritual man with one foot in a successful business. He takes charge, and I need that. It doesn’t get better than this.”