Bistro Vivant taps Ed Hardy as new chef

Chef Ed Hardy. (Françoise Villeneuve) Chef Ed Hardy. (Françoise Villeneuve)

Ed Hardy needs to update his Twitter profile, which currently describes him as “executive chef @DC area restaurant that for PR reasons cannot be named yet.”

The cat’s out of the papillote: February 11 marks Hardy’s first day on the job at Bistro Vivant, the snug French dining room introduced last year in McLean by restaurateurs Aykan Demiroglu and Domenico Cornacchia. Hardy, 37, replaces Driss Zahidi, recruited from the nearby Evo Bistro.

A native of Richmond, Hardy graduated third in the 2007 class of the former French Culinary Institute in New York. From there, he went on to work for some of the biggest names in the food business. Under Marcus Samuelsson, he was a line cook and sous chef at Aquavit and Red Rooster, respectively; under Gabriel Kreuther, Hardy served as a sous chef at The Modern and MoMa cafes. Most recently, he consulted for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group at the Columbia Firehouse in Alexandria.

His immediate plans? “I don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” says the chef. “There are a wealth of French bistro dishes that have already been created.” Instead, Hardy says he’ll be “dedicated to make everything a little nicer,” right down to finding a better bean for cassoulet.

“New York was a temporary situation,” the chef explains his decision to move south. “I’m a Virginian,” adds Hardy, who ticks off a list of local products – apples, ham, oysters – he’s eager to incorporate into his menu.

Look for the new hire’s handiwork on the bistro’s spring menu, out next month, says Demiroglu. Judging from his response to Hardy’s cooking try-outs, diners should be making reservations now. Says the boss, “I felt as if I was eating in Paris!”

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.

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Alex Baldinger · February 11, 2013