David Shan, maitre d' at the new DC outpost of Italian power-dining chain Il Mulino, moved to DC from Iran as a teenager in 1974. He started working in restaurants right away—his first job was as a busboy at Nathan’s in Georgetown: "I still go there sometimes, after work," he says. Shan then spent 15 years running the dining room at Foggy Bottom’s Primi Piatti. And in 2006, he joined the New York-based Il Mulino and opened a branch of the restaurant in Puerto Rico. When the new Il Mulino opened last month on Vermont Avenue, Shan was chosen as its key gatekeeper. Over the years, he’s served such high-profile diners as the Clintons, the Gores, Donald Rumsfeld, and Harrison Ford. And though he admits he doesn’t cook much, he does love food. Here are some of his favorite things.
Favorite DC- area restaurant: Zaytinya. They have such a variety, every time I go I allow the waiter or waitress to order me food until I say 'That’s enough.' I also love L’Auberge Chez Francois. I’m married 26 years and that’s where I took my wife for our anniversary.
Favorite dish to cook at home: My wife doesn't allow me to cook, since she’s a fantastic cook. She does an amazing job with marinated lamb chops.
Favorite drink: Budweiser. Besides wine of course.
Favorite ethnic cuisine: Besides Italian food, I like Mediterranean cuisine, like what Zaytinya does. I like tapas, you get to try so many of them.
Favorite dessert: Creme caramel. Both in a restaurant and at home- my wife makes it.
Favorite fast-food place: If I want a burger I go to Old Ebbitt Grill– they’re open late. For a big, greasy burger after work, that's where I go.
Favorite late-night snack: That’s the one.
Favorite dish at Il Mulino: I’m crazy about the veal chop with sage sauce.
Favorite breakfast: Pancakes and sausage.
Favorite Iranian dish: It’s called phesenjoon. It’s a chicken slow-cooked with pomegranate and walnuts. I only have it once in a blue moon, when we get invited to some Persian relatives and they make it for me. They know how much I like it.