Redwood Gets a New Chef

By: Kate Nerenberg

Redwood, a sprawling West Coast-inspired restaurant on glitzy Bethesda Row, has finally appointed an executive chef, a position that’s been vacant since Andrew Kitko left in December. Owner Jared Rager says he picked Blake Schumpert, 42, primarily for his commitment to seasonal ingredients.

“I found a chef who could deliver my original vision of serving farm-to-table food in a beautiful, relaxed environment,” says Rager, who once co-owned Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar (he still has a 50 percent stake in Sonoma and the soon-to-open Blue Ridge) but is now focusing on Redwood full-time. 

Rager says he liked that Schumpert’s résumé included both white-tablecloth dining rooms as well as less formal neighborhood restaurants. In addition to a two-year stint at New York City’s Blue Hill, where chef Dan Barber is a leader in the locavore movement, Schumpert worked with Michel Richard at DC’s Citronelle and was executive chef of Cleveland Park’s Ardeo from 2003 to 2006. Most recently, he was at the helm at Millie’s in Richmond, a diner-like space with simple, seasonal food.

Schumpert says his style—which he describes as “contemporary American, market-driven, with a French influence”—was most heavily influenced by Barber and a five-month apprenticeship in Bordeaux, France.

Customers will start seeing Schumpert’s dishes on the menu in early June.