Rogue 24 Chef RJ Cooper’s Favorite Things

The chef shares his preferred takeout, ice cream, day trip, and more.

By: Anna Spiegel

James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper has a reputation for pushing boundaries: At his Rogue 24 in DC’s Shaw neighborhood, diners choose between 16- and 24-course tasting menus. Next up: Gypsy Soul, a casual ode to regional dining in Merrifield with a sprawling rooftop grill. We caught up over raw carrots—Cooper is currently dieting—and talked about tattoos, bourbon, and his pet corgi.

Energy source: “It used to be Red Bull with chocolate. Now it’s coffee.”

Bourbon: “Black Maple Hill from Kentucky. It’s not Pappy Van Winkle, so it’s affordable, and it’s just as good.”

Restaurant: “My favorite super-fine dining is the Inn at Little Washington. It’s a very magical, Disney World place. Also magical: Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit.”

Takeout: “I have a soft spot for really bad Chinese food—greasy, starchy almond chicken from any place I can find on my phone.”

Currently craving . . . “I’m on a diet. I haven’t had chocolate in seven weeks. The kitchen crew used to eat a two-pound bag of almond M&M’s every day.”

Ice-cream flavor: “Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, man—c’mon.”

Day trip: “A motorcycle trip through the George Washington National Forest.”

Tattoo: “I have so many! My Rogue tattoo means a lot to me because I got it three days before my open-heart surgery.”

Always in the home fridge: “Soy milk, so many berries, and a bunch of protein drinks.”

Pet: “Rebecca the Corgi Princess of McLean. She’s 11.”

Breakfast dish: “I haven’t eaten it since I started my diet, but I really like the quiche at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.”

Healthy snack: “A protein shake and raw carrots.”

Fast food: “Wendy’s triple burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, bacon, and fried onion rings on top, all crushed down.”

Four people I’d like to invite to dinner: “Brad Pitt, Woody Harrelson, Jerry Garcia, and Jerry Seinfeld. I’d serve pot brownies. “

Condiment: “If I’m at Daikaya, I like togarashi spice on everything. If it’s a burger, Thousand Island dressing. For French fries, mayonnaise.”

Restaurant music: “When we’re working, it’s whoever gets to the radio first. I’m a big jam-band guy and will put on the Dead, and everyone else is like, ‘Arrrrrrgh.’ ”

Restaurant I’d like to open: “The first chef-driven biker bar. It would have rock ’n’ roll, stripper poles, Miller High Life, and lots of smoked meats.”

Artists: “Warhol. I love the depth and energy, the wackiness. I love DalĂ­, and I really want to know what drugs he was on.”


This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Washingtonian.