I write this while in a full blown food coma (#foodieproblems) with a delightful pain and taste bud/sensory overload, but more over, faced with writer’s dilemma, trying to find a way to describe the past four hours of absolute mastery that just went down at Rogue 24. Long -24 course and 8 drinks- story short, Spike Gjerde had me at hog jowl. Rogue 24 had me upon entrance. What the hell does that mean you ask. Well, in case you have been living under a rock, RJ Cooper’s illustrious Rogue 24 has been debuting Rogue Sessions, a ten week pop-up celebrating some of the nation’s finest chefs as RJ Cooper recovers from heart surgery, with ticket sales benefiting Share Our Strength. It is all a wonderful affair of chef love, community giving, and culinary creativity.
Straight off the press, I was interested in seeing Chef Spike Gjerde go Rogue. His farm-to-table concept in Baltimore, Woodberry Kitchen, is one of my favorite restaurants around, but not the kind of place you find Rogue-esque molecular gastronomy. At Woodberry Kitchen, Chef Spike works closely with farmers and growers throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic regions to supply the restaurant with the freshest ingredients available, and brought that local fever to the Rogue Session. Throughout the meal, Chef Spike proved over and over that he could break barriers and remain true to seasonal and local flavors, delivering amazing dishes that were packed with a subtle elegance and charm you would have thought he was working in that space for years.
It is an unfortunate circumstance that will bring together some of the most talented chefs from the nation for a culinary showdown of epic proportions. Chef RJ Cooper, the mastermind behind Rogue 24, will undergo open heart surgery this month to correct a genetic heart defect which could be life-threatening if not treated.
In his place, ten of Cooper’s closest friends – who also happen to be some of the most talented chefs in the nation – will each take over the kitchen at Rogue 24 for a week. The impressive roster includes José Andrés, 2011 James Beard Outstanding Chef, David Posey from Chicago’s 4-star restaurant Blackbird and formerly of Alinea, Spike Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen, Nancy Oakes, James Beard Best Chef California and chef/owner of Boulevard, and Top Chef contestant Jennifer Caroll, who worked with Eric Ripert at 10 Arts in Philadelphia and Le Bernadin in New York. And that’s just the half of them.
Each Rogue Session will cost $185 per person, and includes a 24-course dinner which will feature twelve dishes prepared by that week’s visiting chef and twelve Rogue 24 favorites, and wine and cocktail pairings by celebrity bartender Derek Brown and Beverage Director JP Fetherston. Tickets to these coveted sessions will be sold one week in advance exclusively through Gilt City. The first session kicks-off January 10th and will be lead by Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to Share Our Strength.
Now, if this isn’t the definition of chef love I don’t know what is.
The long-talked-about and much anticipated Rogue 24 by RJ Cooper is slated to open on July 27. The 52-seat restaurant near the convention center will feature a theatrical open kitchen in the middle of the dining room, and will offer either a 16-course or 24-course menu. And while there’s no bar, per se, for you to wait at when the restaurant is undoubtedly packed when it first opens, there is a 14-seat “salon” where you can order cocktails and tastings a la carte.
“Rogue 24 is both a studio and stage for dedicated culinarians and sommeliers to have an immediate impact on guests with their knowledge and commitment to excellence,” said chef and owner RJ Cooper in a media release. “For guests seeking an intimate dining experience, we’ve turned the traditional restaurant inside out and brought the kitchen to the guests. Each table is a chef’s table, and each course is carefully constructed to build upon the flavors of the previous course, guiding the taste buds on an unexpected journey.”
Not only is the restaurant owned and led by RJ Cooper, former Chef de Cuisine at Vidalia and 2007 James Beard Foundation award recipient for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, but Cooper is bringing a team of all-stars to the restaurant as well. Derek Brown of the Columbia Room will be in charge of the cocktail and mixology program, and Matthew Carroll, who was previously the wine director at 2941 and the sommelier at the Inn at Little Washington, will serve as the GM and sommelier. Not a shabby lineup at all, eh?
You can start making reservations on July 14, and note that you’ll need to give your credit card to hold a reservation. My advice is to get your dialing fingers ready since I’m betting reservations will be snatched up quickly…
Prince of Petworth has some good food news for us. If signs speak the truth, King of Kabob is taking over the old Bao Restaurant & Loungeat 1018 Vermont Ave. Also, if you love your seafood and need something more than a truck, PoP hears that Luke’s Lobster Shack is coming to Penn Quarter at 622 E St, NW. Luke’s currently has 4 locations in New York City. With seafood rolls and brisket (Hill Country) now available in PQ, I might have to move there.
The name reminds me a little too much of those books we all read in elementary school, but this is good news anyway! The Hill is Home updates us on BoxCar Grill (just a working name for now), which will be Xavier Cervera’s fifth (sixth if you count Pacifico) establishment on the Hill. The Hill is Home says BoxCar will be an upsale place with an in-house charcuterie, cheeses, and a large wine selection.
Talk about an empire. DCMud.com reports that restaurateur Ashok Bajaj, the man behind Bombay Club, 701, Rasika, and Ardeo + Bardeo could soon sign a lease for the retail space at 22 West in West End. Bajaj somewhat hinted at a new project in a chat last month with my fave food critic, Tom Sietsema.
My favorite news of the week comes via The Washington Post: Whole Foods Market and a D.C. real estate firm want to build a new store in Navy Yard, “but the developer says that luring the grocer would require $8 million in tax breaks.” WaPo reports that William C. Smith and Co. is proposing a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods in the 800 block of New Jersey Ave. SE as part of a building that would also include 375 apartments.
In other Navy Yard news, JDLand writes that a beer garden might soon be on its way to Southeast. The ANC6D (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) voted 6-0 “to support the Bullpen’s plans to open an additional 632-seat beer garden at Half and M, across from the Navy Yard Metro station’s west entrance just north of Nationals Park.”
It’s almost time for another DC foodie favorite event, and also one of my favorites. DC’s strong culinary community will be joining forces yet again to fight childhood hunger with Share Our Strength at the 23rd Annual Taste of the Nation.
More than 75 of Washington’s favorite chefs, mixologists, restaurants and wine bars will come together to raise money and awareness for “No Kid Hungry” Share Our Strength’s campaign to end childhood hunger by 2015.
Always billed as a culinary night to remember, buy a ticket and you’ll have the opportunity to try dishes from the capital’s best eateries, participate in a silent auction, and check out a number of live cooking demonstrations. Participating chefs include Haidar Karoum of Estadio/ Proof, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT and Nick Sharpe of Ba Bay. Continue reading →
The Vietnamese restaurant Ba Bay just opened late last year, and it’s already doing one of my favorite things — interacting with the restaurant industry, even highlighting other chefs. On February 27 Ba Bay will hold its first of monthly Guest Chef Dinners, and the restaurant wants you there!
The first chef to make an appearance in the Capitol Hill kitchen alongside Ba BayChef Nick Sharpe is Chef R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24, the Mount Vernon Square restaurant set to open in May. Together the chefs will put make a five-course meal dinner highlighting their interpretations of Vietnamese flavors and dishes. DC foodies will remember that Cooper was Sharpe’s mentor while both worked at Vidalia.
The five-course will cost $65 per person, and for an extra $35, wine pairings are also available. The menu looks delish. Continue reading →