Rogue 24 Chef RJ Cooper’s Favorite Things

The chef shares his preferred takeout, ice cream, day trip, and more.
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

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 Dalí, and I really want to know what drugs he was on.”

This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.