All photos courtesy of Tail Up Goat at Reveler’s Hour

Resy QuestionnaireWashington D.C.

20 Questions with Jon Sybert of Tail Up Goat and Reveler’s Hour


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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 Jon Sybert, the chef and co-owner behind Tail Up Goat and Reveler’s Hour, acclaimed neighborhood darlings where the homemade pastas and wines shine.

The Resy Questionnaire

1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?

Any meal I’ve ever cooked for friends in my home.

Crispy salt cod with smoked cauliflower and pickled red onion at Tail Up Goat.
Crispy salt cod with smoked cauliflower and pickled red onion at Tail Up Goat.
Crispy salt cod with smoked cauliflower and pickled red onion at Tail Up Goat.
Crispy salt cod with smoked cauliflower and pickled red onion at Tail Up Goat.

2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?

My fancy Nenox chef’s knife. It was a gift from my wife upon opening our first restaurant, so it’s got a good bit of emotional attachment, on top of being a great jack-of-all-trades kind of knife.

3. What pantry items would you bring on a desert island?

Pickled ramps, Heinz ketchup, Duke’s mayo, chili crunch, and salt.

4. What’s your favorite place to get pizza in D.C.?

Pizza at Martha Dear or 2Amys.

5. Favorite cookbook?

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers. I’ve had it forever and still love cooking from it.

6. Your drink of choice?

Water. I’m weird and love water above all things. As for adult beverages, I love a classic gin martini at the proper ratio of 3:1 gin to vermouth.

7. Favorite food movie?

The Trip. I am not big on movies that portray professional cooking in general, so I tend to gravitate towards movies that focus on the dining experience or the food itself. This movie is hilarious and portrays the comically pretentious way that some hoity-toity, self-important restaurants view themselves, which always makes me laugh.

8. Your ideal dinner party guest, dead or alive? 

Julia Child would be a good time. After that, probably the simple answer of industry friends I don’t get to see in person very often, outside of cooking at events.

9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most?

My old friend (as in he’s very old*) Brooks Headley. I don’t know anyone in our industry who has compromised less (ever?) than he has. He’s also the most talented person I’ve probably ever known. It’s annoying.

*[N.b. Headley is currently in his fifties.]

10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?

Dinner on the patio at 2Amys for me and my wife’s 10th anniversary.

11. Your greatest professional achievement?

Haven’t burned down one of my restaurants yet!

12. If you weren’t cooking, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t cooking, I would be a very mediocre cosmologist. Not great at math, so I feel like that path wouldn’t have led me to greatness.

13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?

Probably any bistro or café that Hemingway was at in Paris in the 1920s. He would have to be there, of course.

14. Your favorite meal from childhood?

My mom’s “pickin chickin” — breaded chicken breast seasoned with white wine, lemon, and onions.  Was the most “fancy” thing that was consistently on the menu in my house growing up.

Pastas at Reveler’s Hour.
A bucatini dish at Reveler's Hour

15. Your wish for the restaurant industry?

To establish itself as a viable career option for people, not just as a pit stop on the way to something else. To never have someone ask anyone on our team, “So, what do you do?” or “What do you want to do with your life?” again.

16. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?

Better: I wish I had listened to all the chefs that tried to tell me to stand up straight and take better care of myself physically. I’m not good at getting through a day in the kitchen without being in pain.

Well: I know my strengths and weaknesses. I think that’s not something that a lot of chefs are great at and I am happy and proud to say that I have no problem admitting where I’m weak and hiring to make up for the places where I fall short.

17. If you could eat through a city for a day, where would you go?

Back to Chicago, where I spent a large part of my life when I was younger. I don’t often get a chance to go back and regret that.

18. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?


19. What do you value most in restaurants?

Hospitality and consistency.

20. It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating?

Whatever the astronauts that I’m flying with the next day tell me is going to stay down during our flight.