Buck’s fresh apricot summer punch

Buck’s Fishing and Camping owner James Alefantis first met chef Vickie Reh not at Food Matters in Alexandria, where she was once sous chef, but through a wine importer. Alefantis, in fact, never ate Reh’s food at her previous gig. So how exactly did Reh end up as head chef at Buck’s following Carole Greenwood‘s departure?

Alefantis tells a story to help me understand: Reh and her husband, for their last vacation, went on a “salt tour” in which they brought back an entire bag of salts, the Buck’s owner says. When he heard the tale, Alefantis remembers thinking, “I was like, ‘You’re perfect.”

OK, yes, Alefantis did give Reh a sort of try-out at Buck’s before naming her as chef, but the way he describes it, the process was a mere formality.

Along with Reh, Alefantis has also hired Farid Fellag, a baker who has previously worked at Galileo, Bebo, and Hook. Fellag is pulling double duty — he’s not only baking all the breads at Buck’s but also preparing all the dough at Comet Ping Pong, where Laura Bonino is now chef. No wait: Fellag is actually pulling triple duty. The baker’s also making croissants and other pastries for Politic and Prose’s Modern Times Coffeehouse, which Alefantis co-owns.

At Buck’s, Alefantis and Reh have expanded the menu a bit. They’ve also lightened the tone. “We’ve instituted a summertime menu,” Alefantis says. “It’s sort of playful but serious…riffing on Buck’s or playing off Buck’s (previous) menus.”

The menu constantly changes, but it has recently featured whole lobsters cooked over a wood grill, fish tacos, encrusted pork chops, chilled cucumber soup, lamb chops, a wedge salad, and even a hamburger. “It’s more of a summer camp theme,” Alefantis says. “Summer food in a summer camp.”