8 Chefs You Need to Know
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8 Chefs You Need to Know

MetroCooking DC happens Nov. 8-9 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Appearances by Food Network celebrities, award-winning chefs, tastings from DC's most noted restaurants, beer, wine, and spirits samplings, culinary classes, entertaining workshops, book signings, shopping, and more! Click here.

What you need to know about the eight movers and shakers in the kitchen, including what they would request for their last meal in prison. (We don't think they'll end up there, but try asking a chef for his one favorite food!)

Danny Lee, Mandu

Chef Danny Lee has rising-star status. You know him for teaming up with his mother, “Mama Lee,” to bring DC traditional Korean food in a modern setting. But, what's gained him recent notoriety is his pop-up Korean bar food concept, Anju. The first Friday of every month Danny and his partner in crime, Jonah Kim, invite big name guest chefs to translate their cooking into Korean. “There are no rules, just anything that pairs well with drinks,” he tells us. Spend 10 minutes with Danny and you'll see why he has so many friends eager to join him in the kitchen. The best news? Anju might get upgraded from pop-up to permanent status. “We're currently collecting design ideas,” he says. Stay tuned. Last meal in prison: His mom's chicken noodle soup.

Metro Cook (Nove8-general) DINE

Yo Matsuzaki, Zentan

Rey Lopez

Fresh from Ozumo in Northern California, Yo Matsuzaki is in as executive chef at Zentan. He grew up in Japan, trained in the French culinary style and worked under such big names as Nobu and Morimoto. In other words—DC just struck gold. Yo says he's going to add more Japanese pub food (izakaya) to the menu that will be a mix of comfort food and modern dishes. But, the “omakase” program is where he'll shine. “That's where I'm going to tell my story,” he tells us. “Each dish has meaning—like coming from my best friend's yakitori shop.” The chef counter style meal is available to five diners on Thursdays at 6:30pm for $65 (starting Oct. 16). Last meal in prison: A deli bagel with whitefish salad, onion, and tomato. 


Jose Adorno, Graffiato

DC scored big when Mike Isabella appointed Jose Adorno chef de cuisine at Graffiato. He's made the menu more playful and expanded it beyond Italian. You'll find Carolina gold ribs and kale braised with smoked turkey wings, for example. Jose's trips to Richmond to open the second location are the genesis of these hints-of-the-South. “Mike told me to go down to connect the dots,” he tells us. “But while I was bringing DC down to Richmond, I picked up on the Southern influences and a brought a little Richmond back up to DC.” Before joining Mike, Jose served as chef de cuisine at Top Chef Winner Kevin Sbraga's first restaurant in PhiladelphiaLast meal in prison: Mom's lasagna. “No plate, just bring the whole lasagna.”

Toro Toro (Open) DINE

Frederik de Pue, Menu MBK/Table

If you're planning to dine at Menu MBK, do it right. Book one of the six seats looking into the kitchen to experience the monthly featured tasting menu showcasing Chef Frederik de Pue's creativity. Frederik may be Belgian, but his menus pull from all corners of world. October, for example, features the best of Russian cuisine. In November, he takes on vegetarian Thanksgiving. Dinner is $65, and drink pairings are available for an additional $45. We snapped him at F*CK Forks getting a chuckle out of a caricature of his face. Each participating chef received one. Last meal in prison: Roasted crispy skin chicken with mashed potatoes, jus de cuisson, and porcini mushrooms.

930 Club (Bastille-Oct11) DINE

Harper McClure, BRABO

Mortadella is one of Chef Harper McClure's favorite foods—that's why he's stuffing quail with it on his new fall menu. Another stunner is his monkfish served in a Swiss chard wrapper. But Harper's been busy outside of the kitchen too, having just launched “industry night” at the adjacent BRABO Tasting Room. The third Monday of every month, Harper DJs as folks from the restaurant industry (and those who love them) dig into $5 tarts $10 mussels, $5 house-made punches and more starting at 10pm. Harper says the inspiration is his time spent at Vidalia. “The Black Rooster across the street was frequented by all the great cooks of DC, if there was ever a spot to talk shop, that's where you went; I want to bring that communal cook hang out to Alexandria.” Next up is an Oktoberfest theme on Oct. 20. Last meal in prison: "Anything made by my lovely wife."  

American Summits (B5G1F) DINE

Nathan Beauchamp, The Fainting Goat

Chef Nathan Beauchamp took a break from cooking in top DC kitchens (1789, Vidalia, and Restaurant Eve) to kick it in Minnesota, where he taught culinary school and tried his hand at organic farming. Upon returning to DC, he stepped into the role of executive chef at The Fainting Goat on U Street. You'll see some hints of his time spent in the Midwest on the menu. “There's a lot of Norwegian and Swedish influence in that area, that's why you'll soon see lefse on the menu.” It's a tortilla-thin potato pancake that can be stuffed. Speaking of pancakes, don't miss Nathan's sweet potato pancakes with black garlic puree, pork belly and fermented apples. Last meal in prison: A bushel of Maryland crabs with Old Bay, sweet corn, and Natty Boh. 

Cardinal (Smiles) DINE

Danny Wells, Republic

Scott Suchman

Republic in Takoma Park is gearing up for their one-year anniversary this December. The Black Restaurant Group locale is helmed by Chef Danny Wells, who grew up down the street. Obviously, oysters are popular, but Danny's paid some extra TLC to two things: spirited vegetarian options, and a standout late night menu. He's especially proud of his quinoa risotto with mushrooms, English peas, mascarpone, and carrot-saffron puree. “A vegetarian entrée shouldn't just be a default,” he tells us. “Meat eaters order it all of the time.” Come 10pm at Republic, you can still eat great. “This is DC where people work 12 hour days,” he says. “People who arrive 30 minutes after dinner's over shouldn't just eat snacks.” Last meal in prison: His dad's crab soup with smoked bacon, gumbo file, and veggies. 

Tarara (Black) DINE

Randy Mosteller, Redwood Restaurant and Bar

Chef Randy Mosteller stepped into his first executive chef role at Redwood Restaurant and Bar in Bethesda. The New England Culinary Institute grad earned his stripes at Old Ebbitt Grill and Smith & Wollensky, and now cooks his version of new American fare. “I'm most proud of my rotisserie Amish chicken,” he tells us. “We change the preparation seasonally and always use the entire bird.” They currently serve the breast wild rice, arugula, cherry tomato, and pickled wax beans plus pulled leg thigh meat and lemon herb chicken jus. His Rueben spring rolls are a can't-miss bar snack because Randy uses his mom's corned beef recipe. Last meal in prison: A pound of hot wings from Elbow Room in his hometown of Elmira, New York.

Ronald Reagan (Available) DINE

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