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Former Bad Saint Executive Chef Tom Cunanan has time to play as he prepares for his next big move in D.C. Those who already miss his Filipino cooking can buy tickets for a two-night pop-up next week on Mercy Me’s expansive back patio in West End. The meals, set for Sept. 16 and Sept. 17, mark the start of a rotating dinner series organized by the Mercy Me team, which includes Andrew Dana, Daniela Moreira, Johanna Hellrigl, and Micah Wilder.
“I’m not straying far from what I was doing at Bad Saint,” Cunanan says, noting he hasn’t finalized the menu yet. He describes one experimental dish involving dumpling wrappers filled with eggplant and oxtail and topped with a peanut stew sauce with crushed peanuts and anchovies. “The reason why I’m doing it is to not get rusty,” he says. “It’s been six months since the last time I touched a pan. It’s also about networking in my city with my community.”
Cunanan, a James Beard Award winner who officially departed from Bad Saint last month, recently signed on as the chef de cuisine at Muchas Gracias—Chef Christian Irabién’s Mexican restaurant in Chevy Chase. Irabién and Cunanan once worked together at Oyamel.
The four-course dinner at Mercy Me costs $75 and reservations can be made on RESY. There will be optional drink pairings from Wilder for an additional cost. A portion of the proceeds will go to World Central Kitchen.
Dana says Mercy Me’s back patio can seat about 50 people and comes with its own test kitchen, making it ripe for pop-ups. He plans to book a different chef each week to put on dinners on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. “Between us and all of our friends in the industry, we love throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what works,” he says. “We’re very blessed to have this space where it feels safe to dine.”
Coming weeks will feature the team from Little Sesame, Chef Matt Crowley, and Chef Masako Morishita of Otabe. Hellrigl and Moreira also plan to pair up on a gnocchi-focused dinner.
Mercy Me, 1143 New Hampshire Ave. NW; (202) 828-7762; mercymedc.com