The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

Every week we fill you in on what’s been going on in the food and restaurant world.

Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman delivers the sad news that François Haeringer, the legendary chef/restaurateur behind Great Falls’ L’Auberge Chez François, died last night at age 91. Haeringer, often in a woolly sweater, was a daily and nightly presence at the restaurant, where customers dined on coquilles saint-Jacques and escargot, both of which were on the debut menu in 1954. L’Auberge has been a fixture on The Washingtonian’s Readers Favorite Restaurants survey and 100 Very Best Restaurants list for decades. Last month, a video interview by the Washington Post found Haeringer musing on how his restaurant fits into a changing food scene. “I cannot predict the future. As long as I am here it’s the way it stays,” he said. “Once I am gone, I don’t know.”

• Carman also reports that veteran chef Roberto Donna has pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement in Arlington. Donna admitted to skimming more than $150,000 worth of meals taxes from Bebo Trattoria, his Crystal City Italian restaurant that closed in April 2009. Donna was slapped with a five-year prison sentence, but it was suspended as long as he maintains his probation and pays the county $156,330.96. When Carman asked Arlington treasurer Frank O’Leary if he ever expects to see the money, O’Leary replied: “I have faith that if he doesn’t, he’s going to go to jail unless he flees the country.” Donna’s attorney, Danny C. Onorato, speculates that Donna’s Galileo III, a resurrection of the restaurant that made him famous, is still on track to open in the next few months.

• It’s only ten years old, but already the Logan Circle Whole Foods is getting a facelift. According to Borderstan, plans include a mezzanine cafe, an artisanal-pizza oven, new soup and salad stations, and an expanded bakery and beer/wine selection.  

• Hundreds of chefs gathered at the White House today to help Michelle Obama kick off a plan to revitalize school-lunch programs. The Chefs Move to Schools program, which has been test-running locally, will pair a chef with a school that he or she can help. Equinox’s Todd Gray has been giving cooking lessons at Murch Elementary, and Good Stuff Eatery’s Spike Mendelsohn has been teaching cooking classes and will plant a garden at the KIPP Academy. So what was the scene like? Many chefs took to Twitter to show off photos and share their musings:

Carla Hall: “Standing in line with a bunch of great chefs, in layers of clothes on a hot day, heading toward the White House…PRICEless! Oooh a breeze”

Anne Burrell: “Crazy carla from top chef and me outside the white house!” 

Anne Burrell: "Michelle Obama giving us an inspirational speech! She's tall!"

Bryan Voltaggio: “Check out who they let into the whitehouse ;)” 

David Varley: “White house kitchen garden. I ate half The sugar snap peas.” 

Clyde’s: “Chef Kenny Clay is w/ FLOTUS for her Chefs Move to Schools program. He’s probably not freaking out or anything. Typical day, you know…” 

Marcus Samuelsson: “All of us taking pictures even my friend daniel

Equinox Restaurant: “Chef coats and 95 degrees – yikes!” 

Equinox Restaurant: “The first lady just thanked Todd” 

• Speaking of Equinox, the restaurant reopened this week five months after suffering a fire. Look for a fully renovated dining room and a new menu of shareable table snacks and herb-grilled and pan-roasted meats and fish.  

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.