A Giant Change at One of the Country’s Best Filipino Restaurants
Chef Tom Cunanan, the original chef at Bad Saint whose Filipino cooking has drawn a slew of national accolades to the 24-seat restaurant in Columbia Heights, is leaving his job after five years. Bad Saint announced the news in an Instagram post Sunday that included a photo of Cunanan with co-owners Genevieve Villamora and Nick Pimentel. “We have tremendous gratitude to Chef Tom for all the passion, hard work, and deliciousness that he has shared with us,” the post reads. “He’ll always be a part of our story and our restaurant family.”
According to the announcement, Cunanan will act as a consultant while sous chefs Hannah Anderson and Andres Gutierrez lead the kitchen. After remaining closed for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bad Saint reopened in mid-June as a weekend takeout operation with composed dishes, pantry items, and alcohol. A former Ardeo/Bardeo sous chef who cooked at Vidalia, Zentan, and D.C. Coast, Cunanan immediately wowed diners who queued up in long lines to eat at Bad Saint with dishes like impeccably roasted pork lechon, soft shell crabs coated with orange crab fat, and sweet potato ukoy fritters.
With Cunanan exploring his Filipino roots, Bad Saint was part of a crop of Southeast Asian restaurants that led the way as the District won national acclaim as a dining destination. The James Beard Foundation named Cunanan Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic at its 2019 awards gala. In 2016, Bad Saint landed the No. 2 spot on Bon Appetit’s list of best new restaurants in America. Eater named Bad Saint one of its 38 essential restaurants in America.
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“All things change, nothing perishes.” - The Metamorphoses, Ovid. After almost 5 years, Bad Saint and Chef Tom Cunanan are parting ways. We have tremendous gratitude to Chef Tom for all the passion, hard work, and deliciousness that he has shared with us. He’ll always be a part of our story and our restaurant family. In the interim, Chef Tom will serve as Creative Consultant to the restaurant, and Sous Chefs Hannah Anderson (@begbud) and Andres Gutierrez (@a.g.4.g) will continue to run the kitchen, guided by Co-Owner Genevieve Villamora as aesthetic and cultural guide. When we opened in 2015, it was a unique moment in time and Filipino cuisine was starting to get widespread appreciation for its contributions to the American table. Now, Filipino cuisine is on the march, from the big cities on the coasts to tucked-away suburban strip malls, and we are here for it. We have felt the magic of mga ninuno - the ancestors - blessing this journey since the beginning. We send Chef Tom off with all our love and support. With his prodigious talent, we know that he will slay slay slay wherever he goes, and we will cheer him on. At Bad Saint, our commitment to Filipino cuisine, excellence, and hospitality remains. We are ever grateful to our community of supporters and diners near and far, and we look forward to feeding you soon as we embark on this new chapter. Mabuhay Ang Lutong Pinoy!
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