Chef Robert Wiedmaier: When you spend countless hours of your days-off in a freezing cold duck blind, or stalking deer, or waiting for fish to bite, you gain a whole new appreciation of the animal you're attempting to kill. That time and effort [and let's admit it: a certain amount of discomfort] makes you respect it more. You have a deeper investment in its fate. And you have a responsibility for what it becomes. It's a responsibility chef Robert Wiedmaier takes very seriously. He practices classic, whole animal butchery. "If you're going to kill a rabbit, don't strip out its loins and toss the rest. Use all of it!" roars the robust, 6', goatee-d, Harley-riding chef. This attitude applies equally to rabbits as to the 30 Randall Lineback calves that are reared for him annually at Chapel Hill Farm out in Berryville, Virginia, and to the thousands of fish delivered fresh and intact to his restaurants in downtown and suburban Washington.
Named Washington's Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2009, Wiedmaier was inducted in Brussels, in the summer of 2012, into The Knighthood of the Brewers' Mashstaff, a century old brewer's guild that honors individuals who embrace and promote Belgian beer. Chef Wiedmaier's establishments offer the largest selection of Belgian beer around and also has an exclusive beer brewed for him, Antigoon, a double blonde ale, named for the gory aftermath of the legendary conflict between Brabo and the mythical giant, Antigoon, of medieval Antwerp.
Less concerned with honors than with living life to the fullest, when he's not in the kitchen Wiedmaier is out on his 32-foot Luhrs, having fun with his boys as he teaches them not just how, but the full meaning of bringing fish from open waters to the table. The James Beard award winning PBS program Chefs A'Field captured that exact scenario in one of its episodes. As a member of the Wild Alaska Seafood Congress of Conscious Chefs, Wiedmaier confirms his deep regard for nature. "This is the most raw and natural way of teaching respect, as it's truly not all about the sport." His new found branding -Full Circle Chef-exemplifies what he holds closest to him-living the dream, but practicing it with grace, admiration, and humility.
What do you love most about DC?
As much as DC has grown in population and development over the years, it still has a small-town feel with an international flair.
Whole, roasted Chicken with Morel Mushrooms, Haricot Vert and, of course, French Fries.
What are you doing at:
6AM: Still sleeping, hopefully!
10AM: Grabbing a coffee – I’m a regular at Lil’ B Coffee & Eatery, its just a few steps away from my restaurant Siren at Washington DC’s Darcy Hotel – it has some great coffee and killer breakfast bites.
12PM: Meetings with staff at Brasserie Beck, Siren, Marcel's or another area Robert Wiedmaier Restaurant Group establishments.
7PM: I’m on the line, in the middle of dinner service at Marcel's. Even, after all these years, there’s nothing more rewarding!
11PM: Hopefully near home, on my way to see my wife and kids.
Currently, my favorite drink is an Orval Belgian beer.
Where do you enjoy getting lost in DC?
If I’m really looking to get lost, I leave DC entirely. I have a home in Southern Maryland along the Chesapeake. I’m an avid fisherman – so being able to enjoy the outdoors and be near the water is just pure relaxation.