Everyone from hip magazine Razor to the Restaurant Association of Washington to Starchefs.com is sure that 36-year-old John Wabeck is a rising star, with each entity designating him as one during the last year. It's no wonder. Now the chef at Washington, DC's Firefly, this Maryland native has worked at some of the nation's finest kitchens since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. His list: Red Sage, Asia Nora, Restaurant Nora and New Heights in Washington, plus the executive chef post at Brix in Napa Valley's Yountville, where he took a cooking sabbatical to work at the exclusive Darioush Winery. At Firefly, "Nothing is overly complicated, but plenty is simply swell," says Washington Post dining critic Tom Sietsema.
That's a nice-looking cat. Think he'll sit still for these pictures?
His name's Ben Casey. Let's give it a try.
Whoa! Looks like Ben doesn't like the camera's flash. Is your arm OK?
It's just some scratches.
Ben's a big one. How's that "fat boy" cat food working out?
He likes it, but he's not losing any weight.
You've certainly got a dandy wine assortment in this fridge.
Thanks. I keep the wine I'm going to drink in here. The rest is down in my cellar.
How big's your stash?
I'd guess 100 bottles right now. There were a lot more before the holidays.
There's' not much food in your fridge.
I don't eat here much. A sandwich made from salami, Muenster cheese, mayo and white bread is a good "day off" meal for me.
Are you much of a breakfast guy?
Sort of. I'll usually spread some cream cheese on half a bagel, then wash it down with this organic tangerine juice. I get the juice from the Fresh Fields store around the corner.
What hours do you keep at Firefly?
I usually leave the house at 10:30 a.m. It takes me 10 minutes to walk to work. I stay until midnight.
That's a long day. You must be famished when you get back home.
Not really. I'll have a glass of wine or a bit of Scotch, but that's it. Most nights, I don't eat anything.
That's kind of a spartan routine.
Saturday nights are different.
I'm one of 30 or so restaurant types who head for the Bistrot du Coin after we close our own places down. We call it "The Office."
Sounds like fun.
It's like a family. Nobody misses it. DC's a close community that way, chef-wise.
Bistrot du Coin must stay open late.
Until 2 a.m. Then we go to another place nearby— Timberlake's—for a nightcap.
We hope none of you has to get up and cook brunch on Sunday.
It's a day off for most of us.
Do you ever make a meal for friends?
Sure. The last meal I made for friends began with a kind of Alsatian miso soup with bacon, poached cabbage, scallions, miso and leftover truffles.
That's quite an opener.
Next was a big baby spinach salad with feta cheese topped with a crazy fusion vinaigrette. We had some bread, too.
That was the whole meal?
Hey, we were still all on diets from New Year's!