Some very high-brow chefs are opening restaurants in Washington, D.C. But the Washington Post wonders: will the arrival of such culinary talent will "turn Washington into the Las Vegas of the East, with outposts of the best international chefs overshadowing a homegrown restaurant culture?"
Alain Ducasse's arrival in Washington is a big deal.
Ducasse is a culinary legend, with 26 restaurants and 14 Michelin stars to his name. And he is one of a half-dozen name-brand chefs to set their sights on Washington: Charlie Palmer of Aureole fame led the way a few years ago with Charlie Palmer Steak, followed last fall by the Source by Wolfgang Puck at the Newseum and Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, the famed chef of New York's Le Bernardin.
. . . In interviews, each professed profound affection for Washington: Ripert's first job in the United States was under Jean-Louis Palladin. Ducasse, too, was a longtime friend of the late Watergate chef. Mina is close to Michel Richard. Palmer simply likes Washington. "I don't open in places I don't want to go visit," he says.
There's some truth to their reasoning. With restaurants around the globe, star chefs have the luxury of choosing cities they enjoy and are easy to get to. Ducasse, for example, is in New York twice a month, so flying to Washington to check in is a cinch. Washington's proximity to New York also helps assure smooth management.