Several months ago, I was standing at the bar in Clyde’s of Georgetown, talking to friends Tim and Patrick, when Tim recommended that I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Patrick enthusiastically agreed, and given that both men are sharp but usually quite different in their tastes, I made a note to take it on a plane to Las Vegas.
And I thoroughly enjoyed it, in large part because you got a sense of Bourdain’s New York City in the 1970s and 1980s—a place where for him food, music and vice came together vividly in kitchens, dive bars and streets. I particularly enjoyed his mentions of slipping into CBGB’s for a show and his nods to the punk rock heroes of his past. Afterward, I read three more Bourdain books. With his success as an author, his world got a lot broader but it was still read like an adventure in rock and roll.
I began to contemplate my own community, made up of venturesome people who go to see concerts at the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, DC9, the Howard Theatre, The Fillmore, DAR Constitution Hall, and many other places around town. They live in these establishments and associated places—places that don’t host shows but serve fine food and drink. I’ve occasionally eaten with my fellow music admirers at some of these places; I’ve sometimes grabbed a dinner alone before or after a show; and I’ve made lists of interesting places to eat when recommendations are made. Man cannot live on music alone, after all.
A community is a community because it is defined by some sort of boundary, physical, abstract, or otherwise that pulls them together. And at this point in time, my community has gravitated toward many of the same restaurants, bars, grills, food trucks, etc., almost as a group mind. Many of the places they like to eat reflect their spirit. They do things their own way. They are comfortable, warm places that have emerged in neighborhoods where they live or go to see shows. Neighborhoods too that display a “rock and roll” spirit.
I’ve long said that I experience DC through the people I know—amazing, wonderful, earnest people who have been kind enough to allow me to share their experiences—experiences that often occur in these places where we eat. In tribute to these places, I am writing a blog series that takes a look at the people behind them. I want to get to know a little bit of something about the people who cook the food at these places we go—the chefs responsible for keeping us fed.
Up until about two years ago, We Love DC visited many chefs around town in its Capital Chefs features. Although my style may be a bit different, my aim is much the same. So join me starting tomorrow as I begin a limited weekly profile of chefs recommended by my friends and fellows.