Bon Anniversaire! Iconic French Restaurant L’Auberge Chez François Celebrates 40 Years

L’Auberge Chez François Celebrates 40 Years

The restaurant business is a high turnover industry. Celebrating a 10-year anniversary is rare. Against all odds, L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia, is toasting 40 delicious years of serving memorable Alsatian accented gastronomy, which has thrilled everyone from American presidents and foreign dignitaries to couples commemorating a special anniversary and families marking major milestones.

Their stunning success story begins in Washington, D.C. For more than two decades, Chez François thrived just a short distance from the White House. For many diners, it was their first taste of French cuisine. “People didn’t even drink wine when he started,” says his son, Jacques Haeringer, who started working in the restaurant when he was 11 and took over as chef and co-owner when his father passed away in 2010. “Girls would drink Coke and the boys would have coffee.”

L’Auberge Chez François Celebrates 40 Years

When the building the restaurant was housed in was sold in 1975, chef-owner Franҫois Haeringer decided to uproot the concept and move it 45 minutes outside the city to the bucolic hamlet of Great Falls. His attorney and accountant thought the idea was bordering on lunacy. “They said it was too high risk,” remembers Haeringer. “They said Great Falls was too far away. ‘If you drive another mile, you’ll fall off the edge.’ My father went over, kicked the wall, and said, ‘I’m doing it anyway.’”

L’Auberge Chez François Celebrates 40 Years

The senior Haeringer poured the family’s savings into completely making over an old property and adding a full kitchen, wine cellar, and parking lot. Ultimately, it was transformed into a picturesque French country inn, which inspired the new name, L’Auberge Chez François (It debuted on April 20, 1976, with François leading the kitchen and Jacques as the chef de cuisine). “With Dad and I, it was old bull, young bull,” says Haeringer. “It was a strength of the business because we bounced things off each other.”

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10 Things We Learned at the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee

OpenTable had the privilege of being a sponsor of the 2016 Cherry Bombe Jubilee held yesterday at Manhattan’s Highline Hotel. Culinary legends, journalists, small business owners, and more gathered to listen, learn, and get inspired by the past and excited for the future of women in food. Here are 10 takeaways, ICYMI.

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Make soup. The Hemsley sisters of UK catering company Hemsley + Hemsley are huge soup and bone broth advocates. “This should be the first things kids learn to make.”

“Get a job in a kitchen; it makes you a better boss.” Amanda Hess had the privilege of working in a completely civilized kitchen under Jodi Adams, but subsequent gigs weren’t quite as heavenly, and she was inspired to lead based on lessons learned at the former.

Looking for the next big thing in food (or any industry)? Look for white space. Find out what’s missing and fill the void.

Don’t get too judge-y about non-organic labels. A lot of farmers aren’t growing certified organic because they simply cannot afford to lose an entire crop to disease or pests. Their profit margins are already perilously thin; according to the USDA, most farmers make less than $80,000. That’s not much money for folks who need to be a chemist, a scientist, and a mechanic in order to manage their farms.

Mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, is prevalent in the culinary industry. This is due, in large part, to the overwhelming demands of the job. Only 3.5% of respondents to a survey on ChefswithIssues.com indicated that their mental health issues are NOT tied to the profession. If you’re suffering, you can visit the site (founded by foodista Kat Kinsman) for support and resources.

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A restaurant owner will always hire a woman as a chef – if she’s the owner. Back in the day (the day being 1982), female chefs were a rarity – and even more so if they weren’t chef-owners of their own restaurants. The critic Mimi Sheraton counted just one who was a hired gun at the time. Things have shifted, but there’s still quite a way to go.Continue Reading

Cherry Bombe’s Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu Talk Women, Food + the 2016 Jubilee

Cherry Bombe's Kerry Diamond & Claudia Wu Talk Women, Food & the 2016 Jubilee

The Cherry Bombe Jubilee isn’t your average industry conference. Started in 2014 by Cherry Bombe magazine founders Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, the Jubilee fosters and celebrates a growing community of women in various aspects of the culinary world: chefs, entrepreneurs, farmers, and producers.

“It’s a really fun, awesome, emotional day, and it blows us away every year to be surrounded by all these incredible women, both on and off the stage,” says Kerry.

April 10 marks the third annual event when hundreds of these professionals will come together for a day of thoughtful conversations about achieving success in the industry. We at OpenTable are thrilled to be a sponsor! We asked Kerry and Claudia all about the origin of the Jubilee, the most powerful conversations, what they’ve learned along the way — and which women they’re obsessed with now.

What’s the story behind the Jubilee? Why did you decide to extend the magazine brand to a live event?

Kerry: When the whole ‘Gods of Food’ controversy erupted in TIME magazine — when they did this really lovely special section on food trends and food personalities, and they managed not to write about a single female chef. It set off this big storm. Eater started writing about all of the different food conferences that were taking place, and they pointed out how dismal the female chef participation is in these conferences.

It wasn’t really clear to us: is it that they’re not getting invited or they’re just too busy or unable to attend? Then we read this interview with Gabrielle Hamilton where she talked about how she doesn’t get invited. We were like, if they’re not inviting Gabrielle, who are they inviting?

We’d talked about doing an event in the distant future. We thought, somebody will do a conference, and then nobody announced anything. We were like, we’ll just do it. Claudia came up with the name and we just went for it. We put it together in record time, and it kind of killed us.

And how did it go?

Kerry: It was a great first conference, very emotional. Great speakers, talking about everything from motherhood to…

Claudia: Getting your foot in the door.

Kerry: One of the panels was about how to run a really unique business and maintain your identity. It was a great day.

Cherry Bombe's Kerry Diamond & Claudia Wu Talk Women, Food & the 2016 Jubilee

What was some of the feedback you got from people who participated and attended?

Kerry: The best was Danny Meyer. He came up to us a few days later and said, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, I heard the most amazing things, you guys are really changing people’s’ lives.” It doesn’t get any better than Danny Meyer telling you you’re changing people’s lives.

Claudia: We sold out in record time this year, and every year the tickets go faster and faster. We definitely need a new venue next year.

Since the Jubilee is for women by women, how does that make the conversations and atmosphere different from other industry conferences out there?Continue Reading

Sibling Rivalries: Chef Brothers Building Delicious Dynasties

When siblings pursue the same career path, it gives them the unique opportunity to be both rivals and allies. Each will champion the other, even as they vie against each other to be the best. These chef brothers have all found a happy middle ground where they thrive through collaboration and by working alongside each other. To celebrate Siblings Day, here are three sets of chef brothers lighting it up in the kitchen.

Bryan Voltaggio of Volt and Michael Voltaggio of ink.
Most Americans first virtually met the Voltaggio boys when they competed on Top Chef in 2009. The show climaxed with a sibling rivalry of epic proportions as the modern-minded, molecular gastronomy loving chefs went head to head for the title. Ultimately, younger brother Michael prevailed. In a way, it didn’t matter because the appearance helped turn both of them into stars of the culinary universe. Michael opened the critically acclaimed ink. and its sister restaurant, sandwich spot ink.sack in Los Angeles. Over on the East Coast, Bryan’s Volt in Frederick, Maryland, became a must-visit destination restaurant, and he followed that success up by opening Range and Lunchbox in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as well as a number of Family Meal diners in Maryland and Virginia. The brothers have collaborated on several projects over the years, including the VOLT ink. cookbook and an as-yet-unnamed steakhouse in the MGM National Harbor casino just outside D.C. in Maryland, which is set to debut later this year. Make a reservation at Volt. Make a reservation at ink.

Chef Brothers

Handry and Piter Tjan of Sushiko
For two brothers to both decide to become chefs is rare. For them to decide to work together as co-executive chefs? Almost unheard of. But that’s exactly what Indonesian immigrants Handry and Piter Tjan have done though it didn’t happen overnight. Piter, the older brother, first headed up Sushiko’s kitchen in 2008, during which time Handry worked as his sous chef. Ultimately, both left the Japanese restaurant to sharpen their skills elsewhere. Handry put in time at Austin’s renowned Uchi, while Handry stayed in the D.C. area for gigs at Thai Pavillion and Perry’s. Finally, they reunited at Sushiko in late 2014, where they have been overseeing the kitchen as equals ever since. They have taken the omakase menu to new heights, featuring delights like kumamoto oysters and noresore (infant eels). There’s even a vegan omakase menu – yes, you read that correctly – where guests are treated to such animal-free delicacies as silky house-made tofu topped off with black seaweed “caviar” and ginger caramel dressed Brussels sprouts. Make a reservation at Sushiko.

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