News & Politics

NY Chefs Dish About DC

Washington is seeing lots of talent coming here from the New York dining scene. What do the Big Apple chefs think of their new surroundings?

The Chefs On New York On Washington
Hank’s Oyster Bar owner and chef Jamie Leeds worked in New York for 18 years before moving here in 2002. “I miss the little, real authentic New York places. Here you have to go out of the District to really get authentic Thai food.” “DC is more welcoming and inclusive in the chef community. DC is just an easier lifestyle. It’s not as stressful. It’s more relaxed.”
Born and raised in New York, Bobby Varua came to DC and to 701 in January. “I miss the tempo. And New York is a little more experimental. The restaurants can come up with almost anything, and diners will be willing to experiment with the chef and the cuisine and technique.”

“I love the history of the city. I’m kind of a history buff. It’s overwhelming to look at a city where everything in the country happens. And the people are nicer in DC.”

Scott Drewno of the Source has been in Washington for a little more than a year. “There’s not a lot of late-night dining in DC. In New York there’s the potential to stay out until 4 am. Here, it seems to get quiet real fast. The town shuts down at 10 every night.” “The restaurant community here is tight. It’s not that way in New York. I think all of the museums here are great. There’s a great cultural sense.”
2941’s Bertrand Chemel worked in New York for nine years before moving south in January. “I don’t miss anything about New York. I think the only thing they do better is that it’s a city that lives 24 hours. You can do anything in New York at any time. You can’t do that here.” “People here enjoy food more than in New York. People are more friendly than in New York. There I didn’t know my neighbors. Here they are asking what they can do to help.”
Leonardo Marino worked at Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in New York before Ripert sent him south last summer to open Westend Bistro. “I miss my friends and family. I miss Le Bernardin. Nothing else. I enjoy DC.” “DC is a healthier place to live. It’s a little bit more laid-back. It’s clean. I think DC is beautiful.”

This article appears in the June 2008 issue of Washingtonian. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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