Restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier is heading across the pond at the end of the month to partake in a culinary exchange set to include a private reception for newly minted U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun, as well as a week-long “pop-up” dining experience orchestrated alongside award-winning British toque, Simon Hulstone.
DC denizens have the opportunity to sample the distinctive flavors Wiedmaier plans to share with curious Londoners at the “A Tale of Two Cities” preview dinner scheduled to take place March 21 at Marcel’s (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW).
The seven-course meal ($165 per person) will showcase locally inspired dishes — including pan-seared scallops with black fermented garlic and squid ink, roasted pigeon with potato risotto and black truffle, and plum-tarragon tart with honey and cinnamon ice cream — paired with Virginia wines and spirits. Author and bon vivant Jason Tesauro has mixed together a slew of regional producers, promising pours from award-winning wineries such as Barboursville Vineyards, Thibaut-Janisson Winery (French President Francois Hollande was introduced to their bubbly at the latest state dinner) and Boxwood Estate Winery, as well as some fizzy refreshments from Foggy Ridge Cider and a little hard stuff from Catoctin Creek Distillery. "The guiding principle of the dishes is to showcase products from the US and zeroing in on Virginia, especially with the wines of Virginia,” Wiedmaier explained via email, dubbing the Old Dominion “such an under appreciated market.”
A founding member of the State Department’s American Chef Corps — which falls under the umbrella of the Culinary Diplomacy Initiative then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped develop in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation — Wiedmaier said he is excited to participate in this historic partnership.
“This kind of request does not come very often and to very few chefs. I hold it in my books as one of the best accolades to achieve in my lifetime,” he shared.
A marketing aide noted that while this is not an official American Chef Corps event (the tandem pop-up is actually being arranged by the U.S. embassy in London), Wiedmaier will don chef’s whites with the ACC seal on them while abroad, and is exploring opportunities to visit a U.K. grade school or possibly give a lecture.
Wiedmaier sounds more pumped about doing some exploratory dining.
"While in London, I am ready to hit the road and see what some of these chefs in the news these days are putting on a plate,” Wiedmaier suggested, tossing out renowned chef Heston Blumenthal as one of the tastemakers he’d most like to get better acquainted with during the trip.
Wiedmaier is also looking forward to mixing it up with Hulstone.
“I will be front and center with him for 5 days,” he said of the exclusive engagement — collaborating on lunch and dinner, from Monday, March 31 through Friday, April 4 — the two have been tasked with producing as part of the “at home” dining experience being presented in the Chef's Penthouse at Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living on Park Lane.
“These kind of events bring long lasting friendships and so that is another good reason to step out of your own kitchen and see what the rest of chefs with my experience are doing,” Wiedmaier wrote in an email.