Many associate the Southern-style cooking at downtown DC's Vidalia with chef/owner Jeff Buben, but much credit also goes to longtime chef de cuisine Peter Smith. In his teens, Smith cooked on weekends at the Country Club of Fairfax. After graduation from L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, he worked at the Occidental Restaurant. Now, after 14 years with Buben, Smith, 34, is scouting locations near the MCI Center for a relaxed, upscale Modern American restaurant of his own. Judging from the success of the Vidalia cooks Smith has taught over the years–from CityZen's Eric Ziebold to Matchbox's Graig Glufling–he'll do well.
Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl. Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan.