The Washington Post

Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert hires Devin Bozkaya

The incoming chef at Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert was born in Berlin, Germany, and raised in Ankara, Turkey, a journey followed by stops in Nashville, Anchorage, Seattle and eventually Hyde Park, N.Y., where he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2005.

Yes, Devin Bozkaya was an Army brat and yes, the chef’s next customers may taste hints of his far-flung travels on the menu of the bistro in the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Bozkaya, 32, takes over in the kitchen at the restaurant named for the acclaimed French seafood specialist Sept. 6. He got the nod from his future bosses after preparing a six-course tasting menu, a meal that included a salad of compressed watermelon, feta cheese and fennel, a combination favored by his Turkish grandmother, from whom he first learned to cook.

Bozkaya succeeds former chef de cuisine Joe Palma, who left Washington for Charleston in April.

While Bozkaya only spoke to Ripert on the phone once in the hiring process, he met the chef of Le Bernardin in New York during filming for PBS’s “Avec Eric” at the Inn at Little Washington , where Bozkaya worked as a sous chef from 2006 until last year, when he became head chef at the nearby Blue Rock Inn in Washington, Va.

It’s too soon to say exactly what the next menu at Westend Bistro will say, but its new chef expects to “make it fun” and follow the example of Ripert by stocking the list with fish, including such “underappreciated ingredients” as wreckfish, bluefish and mackerels,” says Bozkaya.

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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