Pastry chef Chris Ford is leaving his post at Trummer's on Main to join R.J. Cooper at the James Beard award winner's forthcoming, tasting menu-focused restaurant, Rogue 24. In his two years spent working under Clayton Miller at Trummer's, Ford honed his skills and helped open Fairfax's Cupcakes Actually.
"It's a bitter sweet thing. He's a good friend and really talented. I'm happy for him," says Miller, who will be hiring from within to replace his pastry chef after the 26-year-old Ford departs in mid-April. The Trummer's chef plans on taking more responsibility for his restaurant's dessert program, but predicted there wouldn't be any drastic changes: "My style and Chris's style are very similar."
Ford's sweet creations, known for their visual impact and re-workings of classic tastes, make sense with Cooper's ambitious tasting menus.
A good example of his work was on his most recent Valentine's menu -- an extremely soft bittersweet chocolate praline bound by agar and gelatin married with candied violets and a cassis meringue. "I'm really looking forward to working in Washington, D.C.," Ford says. "Working with a new team and a new vision is a great a way to reinvent yourself and grow as a chef."
With Ford's hiring, another piece of the puzzle is in place at Rogue 24. The restaurant, located on Blagden Alley near M and N streets NW, is on track to open in mid to late spring, and construction at the site begins in earnest next week. Work on the concept is also continuing, but what I hear now sounds very intriguing. The kitchen will offer two tasting menus: the "Journey," the 24 course monster, will be available Tuesday through Saturday, while the "Progression menu" with 16 to 18 courses will only be available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The space will also host a side salon, where diners can enjoy cocktails and small plates when they don't have time for a three-hour meal.
Cooper also has big plans for the bar leadership, though he couldn't name any names. "My idea for the bar staff," he explained, "is to take a very prominent mixologist in town and have him come and use his skills to train cooks as mixologists. What we want to do is take hand-crafted ingredients and have our cooks use them to develop a mixology station that is just at a different level."
But the chef had no hesitation about where Ford fits into his team. "Working with young talented people like that and watching them grow is what we are about. I think he is one of the most talented chefs in the area, if not the country, He is an up and coming rock star."