Resy Questionnaire Washington D.C.
20 Questions with Chloe’s Haidar Karoum
In the Resy Questionnaire, we play a game of 20 questions with the industry folks behind some of our favorite restaurants. What’s your most memorable restaurant experience? Your favorite food movie? What restaurant would you want to time-travel for?
In this edition, we talk to Haidar Karoum, the chef and owner behind Chloe, whose globally-inspired plates delve into the acclaimed chef’s Lebanese roots and his extensive travels across Southeast Asia and Europe.
The Resy Questionnaire
1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?
I can’t pin it down to one specific dish, but I would say fish in general. I have always been fascinated — and borderline obsessed — with all things fish. The fish station was always my favorite as a young cook. Part of it is the absolute diversity of products that encompass fish cookery, whether it’s finfish, crustaceans, shellfish, etc. Or, as a pisces, it’s just in my blood.
2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?
The easy and immediate answer for a tool would be my knife. For equipment, the vacuum packing machine is a real workhorse in my kitchen. It’s so important, not just for preserving freshness, but for keeping things organized in tight quarters and walk-ins.
3. What pantry items would you bring on a desert island?
Fish sauce, olive oil, mustard, kimchi, and red wine vinegar.
4. What are some your favorite places to get food in D.C.?
For oysters, Old Ebbitt Grill, for pizza, 2Amys, and for Japanese food, Sushi Taro.
5. Favorite cookbook?
Tough to nail down one … The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers, The Elements of Taste, by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky, and Hot Sour Salty Sweet, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
6. Your drink of choice?
Depends … Coffee, sparkling water, or Rhône reds.
7. Favorite food movie?
Eat Drink Man Woman.
8. Your ideal dinner party guests, dead or alive?
The Cajun gourmet, Justin Wilson, because I loved him as a kid, and Jean-Louis Palladin, because he’s the man.
9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most?
José Andrés. Super talented chef, extremely generous, caring … a visionary
10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?
Asador Etxebarri in Spain.
11. Your greatest professional achievement?
To have been able to work with so many fantastic people, many of whom are still with me after many, many years.
12. What single dish best describes your personality?
One of Chloe’s opening dishes: Cobia crudo with nuoc cham, avocado, crispy shallots, Thai chilies, and puffed black rice.
13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?
Perhaps an older classic from D.C., like the legendary Le Pavillon, when chef Yannick Cam was there.
14. Your favorite meal from childhood?
My father’s pita, baked with za’atar, olive oil, and Lebanese string cheese. Or his ful medames, a warmish salad of stewed beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, and lots of fruity olive oil, all scooped up with warm pita.
15. Your wish for the restaurant industry?
A continuance of restaurant openings that focus on ethnic cuisines that are less explored. Recent openings that come to mind include the cuisines of Trinidad, Laos, Cambodia, and Amazonia. It’s the best way to learn about a region’s culture without buying a plane ticket.
16. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?
I wish I was better at communicating frustrations. I am good at forgiving.
17. If you could eat through a city for a day, where would you go?
Maybe Istanbul. I have never been, but imagine that as a cultural crossroad, the diversity of cuisines must be amazing.
18. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?
Champagne and raw fish.
19. What do you value most in restaurants?
20. It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating?
Pho, no question. It is not only my pound-for-pound favorite dish in the world, but in my opinion, the most delicious, balanced, layered, and harmonious.