At some DC restaurants, the real magic happens behind kitchen doors. The traditional family meal is a gathering of all restaurant staff to break bread outside of service, but more often than not, it's a chance for chefs to try new recipes or get some of their friends to flex their culinary muscles. Here are a few of the most popular family meals DC area chef's have served their staffers.
The Chef: Bryan Voltaggio
The Restaurants: VOLT, Range, Lunchbox, and (the aptly named) Family Meal
The Meal: "One of the best family meals we've had was at Family Meal when I was testing out the perfect fried chicken. It was fried chicken, day after day, all the while the recipe getting was better and better until it was just right. As for VOLT, when our chef de cuisine Graeme Ritchie's parents come down from Rochester, NY, they bring us Zweigle's white hots (hot dogs) and a bunch of "garbage plates." "Garbage Plates" are Zweigle's hot dogs or hamburger patty, tater tots or fries, potato salad, relish, ketchup, mustard and ground meat chili sauce. Simply amazing!"
The Chef: Spike Mendelsohn
The Restaurants: Bearnaise, Good Stuff Eatery, We the Pizza
The Meal: "Our Executive Chef, Brad Race, invited his friend Alex Sotero from Brazil to cook at Béarnaise for a few weeks. Having Sotero in town brings a fun and fresh energy into the kitchen. As a family meal treat, Sotero made Moqueca, a Northern Brazilian seafood stew that Brazilians have been making for 300 years. It was a huge hit, and he mixes it up by making it with coconut milk like they do in the Northeast region of Bahia. This was the first time it was served for family meal, but it was the perfect meal to get our staff ready for service."
The Chef: Erik Bruner-Yang
The Restaurant: Toki Underground, the forthcoming Maketto
The Meal: "One of our epic family meals is steamed bao, fried bao, pork chop, ribs, papaya salad, sour soup, kewpie mayo, donuts and Cheeetos. It's what we love to eat. High and low."
The Chef: Andrew Markert
The Restaurant: Beuchert's Saloon
The Meal: "When chickens are brought in from co-owner Brendan McMahon's family farm East Oaks Organics, I make buffalo wings and bleu cheese dressing with sauces made from scratch. The wings are the only part of the chicken not used on our menu. Everyone on staff gets a red, saucy grin on their faces by the end of the meal."
The Chef: Doug Alexander, Chef de Cuisine
The Restaurant: Art and Soul
The Meal: "Arjun, who is one of our sous chefs is from Nepal, is a very talented cook. About once a week he makes us some sort of delicious meal from his homeland. There is usually rice, yogurt, and vegetables cooked in a ginger and tomato laden curry and only on occasion does he include meat. It is really phenomenal how good he makes eating vegetarian taste. And that says a lot?as we eat a lot of meat here."