The Washington Post

“Top Chef” veteran opening Mayfair & Pine

(Courtesy Emily Sprissler)

Mayfair refers to the area in London where the couple honeymooned in 2008; Pine is a shout-out to the street they lived on in San Francisco. While wife and husband will share cooking duties, Sprissler is calling herself a managing partner and executive chef and her husband chef de cuisine. “This is my baby,” says Sprissler, 36. “I did the leg work” to get the project, “rejected by eight banks,” off the ground.

Preparing their introductory menu was an exercise in compromise, says Sprissler. “We have distinct likes and dislikes.” She likes marinara with her fried calamari; he’s more a romesco fan, and won that debate. Spissler got her wish to do mushroom toast with scrambled eggs, which her husband thinks is more appropriate for breakfast than on a dinner menu.

Their signatures will include savory fish and meat pies, an apple salad spiked with a syrup made with candy red hots, a turkey sandwich layered with Thanksgiving flavors and cioppino, “a taste memory” from the couple’s time in San Francisco, where both made a habit of the rustic seafood stew. Entrée prices at Mayfair & Pine will range from $12 to $35.

Sprissler and Cote, 35, worked at the MGM Grand at Michael Mina’s Nob Hill before coming to Washington three years ago. “Refugees of the economy,” they landed cooking jobs at different Wegmans in Virginia. More recently, Sprissler, who went to high school in Burke, Va., was a freelance caterer.

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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