Chef Robbie Wood Dishes on the Mid-Atlantic's Tasty Treats

The Chesapeake Room in Washington, D.C. is educating diners about seasonal food from the mid-Atlantic area — there is a lot more to this region that just crab cakes.

Chef Robbie Wood from the Chesapeake Room sits down with to share his passion for great food and dishes on what hungry diners can look forward to this spring and summer.

How did you choose the name Chesapeake Room?

Chef Robbie Wood:

The Chesapeake Room's owner, Xavier Cervera, grew up in this area. He wanted to have a restaurant featuring the bounty of the Chesapeake watershed. So, the name just kind of worked with that ideal and the space of the building. It is a gorgeous room that is adorned with paintings of the region, and serving foods from local producers.

What does it mean to eat locally and seasonably?

Chef Robbie Wood:

The term local can be ambiguous, for me it indicates foods transported from less than a day away. The importance of it is two-fold: cutting down on unneeded energy use and bolstering local economies. Eating within seasons offers the chance to enjoy what Mother Nature offers at the height of its quality. Relying on what is available during whatever season it may be gives the benefit of better tasting and more nutritious foods.

What are the challenges of building a menu focused on foods in season?

Chef Robbie Wood:

One of the biggest challenges we face with constant menu changes is our customers' attachment to certain foods. We find ourselves constantly explaining why tomatoes are not available in December or why rockfish is not on the menu in a certain month. It is a task we happily take up, constantly educating our staff and customers. The difficulty lies in the "year-round" attitude a lot of people have about food. People are especially protective of their ideals about eating, something they have been doing their whole life.

What are you looking forward to serving this spring and summer?

Chef Robbie Wood:

I really love the spring and summer for all of its amazing variety. We will be playing around with squash blossoms and asparagus, soft-shell crabs for the few weeks they are here, and spring lamb from nearby Pennsylvania. I gravitate to a lighter style of cooking that shows off ingredients to their fullest and fits perfectly in these seasons. Sugar snap and English peas go great in salads and soups, then on to summer squash and tomatoes. Backed up with spices and fresh herbs, it is a fun time to be cooking. A great meal would be curried soft-shell crab over sugar snap and squash blossom salad with basil vinaigrette!!

The owner of the Chesapeake Room is opening a new oyster bar across the street — what can customers expect?

Chef Robbie Wood:

Customers should expect a great variety of east and west coast oysters with a number of meaty chops as well from Senart's Oyster & Chop House. We will continue to bring in high quality ingredients from responsible producers and turn them into great American fare. With a ton of draft beers and wines by the glass behind a 52 ft long white marble bar, we will have plenty of choices to wash down your meal.

About Chef Robert Wood

Chef Robbie Wood cooks up seasonal, sustainable and responsible dishes at Washington, D.C.'s Chesapeake Room.

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