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Short ribs and baby octopus may dominate many menus in the city, but that doesn’t mean local chefs can’t find love in an acorn squash. In our ongoing series, Chefs Veg Out, we’ll prove D.C.’s chefs can play with more than just meat.

  • NameChris Jakubiec
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Plume and The Greenhouse, Jefferson Hotel
  • Twitter: No (Q: Are you anti-social media? A: Somewhat… My social life is somewhat non-existent.)
  • Cooking Since: Probably since I was 6 or 7 years old. The first one I tried by myself was twice baked potatoes and it didn’t come out so well. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the oven on. I turned the dial on for the temperature and didn’t know there was a separate dial to turn on the actual oven. So the potatoes were sitting in the oven for an hour and I was like, “Man, this isn’t hot.” I didn’t understand what was going on. My mother came home and she was disappointed that I couldn’t figure out how to do it but at the same time she was happy that I couldn’t figure out how to turn on that oven…because she came home to a house still standing. [In] 1998 I had my first job in a professional kitchen. I worked in a vegan restaurant in Connecticut.
  • Random Fact: I’m a huge Yankees fan.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Broccoli. Steamed, sauteed, grilled. I actually like it when it’s black on the edges.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Nettles. They’ve gotten so popular and I just don’t understand. [They remind me of] weeds with something that stings my mouth. It’s very dry on your  tongue. They tend to completely remove any saliva from my mouth.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: Zucchini pappardelle. We [at the Ivy Hotel in San Diego] cut the zucchini like wide pappardelle noodles [and served it] in a white wine cream sauce with artichokes and basil.
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Plume: Actually, I’ve been playing around with a few things [for the new menu]: tofu and vegetable Wellington and a [deep fried, vegetable-filled] potato box. As far as what we have right now: the eggplant tian, which is eggplant caviar wrapped in bittersweet eggplant with tomato marmalade, basil tempura and dried black olive crumbles.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: Sweet corn burritos. Leave the corn in the husk. Roast it on the burner and get a little color on the skin and I pop it in the oven: a 350-degree oven would take 35 or 40 minutes. I don’t like it boiled. Or, you can do it on a low grill and you’ll get that color and it’ll cook through. Cut it off the cob, sautee onion, a red bell pepper, and maybe some yellow bell pepper [and add] chili powder, paprika, cumin. Add in the the corn, maybe some fresh salsa, some cilantro, [an aged cheddar] cheese and maybe a little rice.

Photo by Stirling Elmendorf