Wine and dine Wednesdays: Hail to the chef
Richmond lived in D.C. back in 2003 and stuck around until 2007, when she moved to London. She's now at the World Bank as a consultant and has worked in economic development and policy for years. Her thesis was titled "The International Criminal Court’s intervention in Uganda: Political and Cultural Ramifications for Local Justice," according to her LinkedIn profile.
Development? Justice? A person interested in these things could not be so horribly pretentious!
And it turns out, she isn't.
Richmond started the Number 68 Project in early 2010 in London in order to help her friend Faiza Hasan, a chef, open a restaurant without making the full commitment. Richmond's advice and help opening a pop-up to "dip her toe before she took a big leap" proved exactly what Hasan needed.
The pop-up ran for nine weeks and got plenty of good press. When she moved back to D.C. in the fall of that year, she wanted to bring the same idea — "unusual spaces to house unusual restaurant concepts" — to the District.
So the sold-out Number 68 Project dinners ran for nine weeks and featured food by the city's best chefs along with enlightening conversations and entertainment based on a specific theme.
The Coterie, which comes on the heels of Number 68's success, can be called exclusive because of its price tag, but when Richmond talks about it, she puts emphasis on the chefs. Sure, those interested in what chefs have to offer off-the-menu may be fancier than most, but this is primarily about the food.
Richmond, who says she hopes to work for the Coterie on a full-time basis soon, guarantees these acclaimed chefs time to exhibit their creativity.
"At the end of the day, they have 72 hours notice. We provided all the operational structures in place for them be cooking for the ideal diner. We're not working on math; we're not guaranteeing flow and traffic. We're saying we're giving you a guaranteed reservation for basically a $125 check," she said.
She's putting the food-lover, the experimental eater, in front of the chef for him to play with. In a city where a tasting menu at Komi or CityZen costs about what this one does (minus the monthly membership fee), that's not a bad deal.
"This is basically the person that you want to be cooking for," she said.
"Imagine you had your own lab in your own kitchen," Richmond described. "You’re testing ideas, you’re being really inventive, you’re working with other ingredients. We create the environment for them to do that. We make it possible for you to be inventive in your own kitchen."
After the jump: Lots of food news!
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