Two popular D.C. communities can now taste creative food offerings at new restaurants headed by chefs with proven talent.
AC Hotel Washington DC Capitol Hill Navy Yard has named Executive Chef Angela Rose to oversee the hotel’s food and beverage operation which includes: Smoke & Mirrors, a rooftop restaurant and bar with gorgeous city views; the AC Lounge, a first-floor bar serving craft cocktails and Spanish-inspired tapas; and the AC Kitchen, where guests can enjoy European-inspired breakfast.
Chef Randall Matthews has made the switch from the fine dining restaurant kitchen to create a “ghost kitchen” at Underground Food Court north of Dupont Circle.
A leap of faith explains the moves by both chefs.
West to East Move for Chef Rose
Coming from luxury-brand hotels including Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Thompson Hotel and Grand Hyatt, Rose moved to Baltimore for a hotel executive chef opportunity. She was soon recruited by Marriott for the newly-created executive chef opportunity at the AC Hotel.
Like many dining establishments, Rose came to her position with a staffing and kitchen equipment deficit but said she’s excited about getting the kitchen well-stocked and beams with pride when describing the team she’s building.
“They are full of energy. They want to work,” Rose said. “I have a mentality of I’m going to put my team on my back and we’re going to go. They jump in where it’s needed.”
Creating a variety of menu selections represents what Rose envisions for the rooftop environment at Smoke and Mirrors. The menu includes fried shrimp and cornbread waffles, banana bread pancakes, pork belly biscuits and Duck Confit Chilequiles for Saturday and Sunday brunch. She also wants to bring the “shared plates” dining experience to patrons with menu options that reflect a flair for spice honoring her Mexican and African-American heritages.
“I’m half Mexican and really close to both of my grandmothers,” Rose said. “For example, my chicken has a chili powder, paprika, cumin and coriander rub, then I just roast it.”
Rose has already made strides in building her ground-up operation at the AC Hotel Washington DC Capitol Hill Navy Yard. During our time together, she shared the secret ingredient in her deviled eggs.
Visit the Smoke and Mirrors website at https://www.smokeandmirrorsrooftop.com.
Ghost Kitchen is Alive in Dupont Circle
Matthews grew up in District Heights, Md. and now oversees the development of the Underground Food Court, a pick-up or third-party delivery ghost kitchen concept. Ghost kitchens became more popular during the pandemic when dining out options shut down. The Underground Food Court offers a variety of brands including Sincerely Breakfast, Brioche Belly, Tacotopia, The Lonely Taco and Masa Tacos.
“There are so many things that go wrong with takeout, like a cold box with cold food,” Matthews said. “We want to give great food from a great chef as a hospitable act. For example, we will put a personal note in the delivery bag for people who order multiple times because we want customers to know who the chef was.”
Matthews plans to introduce more ideas to make takeout a more pleasurable experience. Chef Matthews’ menu standouts include Sincerely Breakfast’s Nana’s Favorite Fried Chicken Biscuit and Masa Taco’s Smoked Chicken Burrito.
Matthews, a well-respected successful chef who most recently served as executive chef at “Ada’s On The River” in Alexandria’s Old Town, Va., graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He has made the rounds at luxury-level establishments throughout the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions.
He attributes his success to guidance from mentors and suggested attending meetups for those with similar career interests or going to open enrollment and back-to-school nights at community colleges. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) has also been a good networking source for Matthews.
“Though it might seem like there are a lot of restaurants, being a chef is a small industry,” Matthews said. “We will do events together and invite each other to our restaurants. That way, you learn faces and names per restaurant.”
Customers can view menus and order online at www.UndergroundFoodCourt.com.