François Haeringer and son Jacques have romanced area diners for three decades at L’Auberge Chez François, their retreat in Great Falls (332 Springvale Rd.; 703-759-3800). Washingtonian readers have named it their favorite restaurant for more than 20 years.
The Haeringers’ own relationship seems not so idyllic. Every year or two, there are rumors of father/son fractiousness. With Jacques—the restaurant’s chef de cuisine for 32 years—out of the kitchen for a long stretch this summer, those rumors intensified: The son had walked out on his father for the last time.
Nonsense, says François, insisting that Jacques was at home resting an injured back and that it was business as usual at L’Auberge: “I have a lot of people here to fill in for him. And I’m always in the kitchen. I’m in the kitchen 63 years. I’m still chief of the orchestra. Nothing strange here. Everything is the way it is supposed to be. You know, the rumors abound.”
Says Jacques, who returned at the end of summer: “Any rumors about my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve had back problems for years, but still I’m in and out of there. I talk to the chefs every day, but I’m trying to stay off of it. I’ve been pounding the kitchen floor for 35 years—it’s taken its toll. I’m an old guy—I’m turning 59 in November. Sure, Dad and I don’t always get along. That’s nothing new. I’m one of the owners—he can’t fire me. We’re still going strong. I can’t get another job like this anyplace. Sure, I think about it. So does every chef.”
This appeared in the October, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.