Category Archives: Interview

From the Kitchen of: Guillermo Pernot

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar’s Concept Chef Guillermo Pernot.  Orlando, Philly and Atlantic City have already been nibbling up his traditional and updated cuisine, now we’re lucky enough to have his genius  in Penn Quarter.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A very sharp Global knife

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foams and sous vide

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Asian.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
In Lancaster county, PA, Glen Brendel.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Substitutions.

What do you drink/eat after work?
Fresca, what ever is left over in my refrigerator, or an fried egg sandwich.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Fish, any type.

Keep reading for the recipe for Ropa Vieja from Chef Pernot… Continue reading

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From the Kitchen of: Kumar Iyer

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Rangoli’s Executive Chef and Owner, Kumar Iyer.  I recently visited this hidden gem in South Riding and had the best Indian meal I’ve ever eaten.  The Bombay Burger is straight from the streets of Bombay – it’s a delicious potato/garlic/cilantro patty lightly fried with a gentle crunchy crust served on a slightly sweet, but super light roll.  And don’t miss the Gulab Jamun – the hot/cold Indian classic of warm milk-based dough balls in a honey syrup with ice cream – it’s unbelievable!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Favorite tool would be the knife, as we use them the most, our restaurant is not very advanced to use modern gadgets. But I’ll say the ‘Wet Grinder’. Wet grinder because it’s unique to Indian kitchens; we use them to grind pre-soaked rice and lentils to make crepes (dosa) and steamed savory cakes (Idly).

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Small plates and foam dishes.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Deli sandwich/subs, soups and frozen yogurt.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Fruits like watermelon, mango and strawberries when in season. I like ‘restaurant depot’ a lot more for prices than the product; the reality is – staying in business is as important as dishing quality food.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Service level expectations, especially Asian customers. I’ve had a guest tell me just yesterday, I didn’t spend as much time on his table as I spent with few others.

What do you drink/eat after work?
A chilled beer and home cooked food.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Dal Tadka and Roti.

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From the Kitchen of: Chef Ghassan Jarrouj

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Agora’s Executive Chef, Ghassan Jarrouj.  Head over to this new hot spot for one of my favorites cuisines – Turkish food!  The inside of the restaurant is so cozy and welcoming, you’ll want to stay all night.  And with the tapas-style service, you just might!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A good knife.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foam.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Gourmet Pizza.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Samuel and Sons Seafood.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Guests making alterations to a dish that requires long preparation and the guest asks for an ingredient to be taken out. When it’s a key ingredient and changes the profile of the dish that makes for an unhappy Chef.

What do you drink/eat after work?
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Burgundies, Pinot Noir from Oregon with Goat Cheese, Manchego or triple epoix.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Fresh seasonal and rustic cuisine just like Momma used to make.

Keep reading for Chef Ghassan’s recipe for Crispy Phyllo Roll with Goat Cheese, Savory Herbs and Crushed Peppers.

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From the Kitchen of: Jaime Montes De Oca, Jr.

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Zentan’s Chef de Cuisine, Jaime Montes De Oca, Jr..  Head over to this new hot spot for one of my favorites, the Singapore Slaw.  It’s amazing – and huge!  It has 19 fresh ingredients including hazelnut, carrots, fried glass noodles,  is topped with a salted plum dressing and is one of my favorite dishes from around town.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Vita Prep – high speed blender!

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Molecular gastronomy.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Latin-Asian fusion.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Ramps & spring garlic.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Customers who do not share with us their feedback when there is a problem while they are still at the restaurant so we can try to fix it.

What do you drink/eat after work?
NY style pizza and a nice cool beer.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
A simple pasta with Spanish Ortiz anchovies, Thai bird’s eye chilies, flat leaf parsley, lots of garlic, regianno cheese, and EVOO.

Keep reading for Chef Jaime’s recipe for Couscous with Chickpeas, Dried Cranberries and Feta Cheese

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From the Kitchen of: Darren Wightman

Today’s Chef Feature comes from Ping Pong Dim Sum’s Chef Darren Wightman.  Head over to this new hot spot in Chinatown for one of the best happy hours in town.  From 4-7 everyday, indulge in $3 dim sum, $4 beer and $5 cocktails and martinis.  What to try you ask?  I loved the Charsui buns, steamed shu mai and chicken puffs.  And slurp down a kumquat mojito or two to put the day’s stresses behind you.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A 4 pound roast meat chopper – It’ll chop a car in half.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Foam sauces and anything that’s been tortured.  Give it to me straight – just two or three ingredients.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
An homage to where I’ve lived.  I’ve spent a great deal of time in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.  So, how about an Asian Tapas Bistro?

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Our produce guys – Belair.  They’re always bending over backwards to find me exotic, tropical ingredients, like dragonfruit.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Is this low sodium?  and seasoning before they taste something.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I like Beringer Reserve Chardonnay and a good single malt Scotch.  I love braised meat – it’s such good sticky, cold weather comfort food.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
A simple pasta with Spanish Ortiz anchovies, Thai bird’s eye chilies, flat leaf parsley, lots of garlic, regianno cheese, and EVOO.

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From the Kitchen of: David Varley

Today’s chef of the week mans the kitchen at Michael Mina’s BOURBON STEAK in the Four Seasons.  I recently had a steal of a lunch at the bar priced at $21 per person including a choice of burger, accompaniment, non-alcoholic drink and a house made BOURBON STEAK brownie.  What’s good you ask?  I’d go for the Dry-Aged Steak Burger, Trio of Duck Fat Fries (or the Beer Battered Red Onion Rings) and the West Indian Limeade.  Mmm Mmm Good!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
It’s cliched but a really good quality razor sharp Japanese knife is the must have of any serious chef.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
In my opinion truffle oil is the item most used in kitchens.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I think Washington DC needs a really great hot dog stand, an institution, like Grays Papaya or Rutt’s Hutt. That could be fun.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
My favorite new vendor is Gryffon’s Aerie, they do amazing grass fed beef and Tamworth pork out in Crozet Virginia.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I tend to be far more forgiving of our customers than they are of me, but one pet peeve is when guests come in with closed minds and a pre-determination to not enjoy themselves. It happens from time to time and is the most mentally taxing on a crew whose greatest joy is to give their all to the guest.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I work some long days and constantly find myself needing to loose a few lbs so I will typically forgo the typical late night extra greasy chow and maybe have a green tea if I am at home researching or reading. I’m more of a librarian than a rockstar.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I almost never cook at home, but when I do it’s simple things like cold soba or a really flavorful yet simple dashi. I don’t have as many sous chefs and dishwashers at home!

Keep reading for Chef Varley’s light-as-air crispy beer battered red onion rings…

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From the Kitchen of: Blake Schumpert

Today’s feature comes from Chef Blake Schumpert from Redwood in Bethesda.  If you haven’t been – they’ve got a great happy hour and delicious flat bread!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
I have an amazing wood fired rotisserie grill and brick oven at Redwood which I love using to make rotisserie chicken salad, home made pizzas and other items for our menus.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Restaurants are so eager to list the farms where they source their ingredients on their menus to prove to customers that what they are serving is fresh, but shouldn’t that just be a given? At Redwood we are sourcing a number of our products from the Bethesda Central Farmers Market right outside our doors. You can’t get more local than that!

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
C’est un secret!

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
I love working with all the local farmers who participate in the Bethesda Central Farmers Market which is held Thursdays from 3 PM to 7 PM, just steps from my kitchen on Bethesda Row. Some of my favorites include Jamison Farm for lamb, Toigo Farms for fruit, and Stony Man Farms for cheese.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I wish my customers would come to Redwood for lunch everyday as the “soup, sandwich, pasta and catch of the day” changes seven days a week so there is always something different to try!

What do you drink/eat after work?
I love a good Chablis after work, or noodles from some of my favorite spots in Chinatown.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
No recipe required as its simple really! On Sunday mornings I love to take a fresh toasted bagel and load on brandade (which is a puree of salt cod, olive oil and milk), tomato, shaved red onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve this with a large pot of coffee and you have the ultimate breakfast.

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