Friday, May 18, 2012

To Eat Like Sam Kass In DC, Visit Oyamel

Ceviche's a fave dish...
Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, among the busiest wonks at the White House, apparently doesn't have much time to cook. He eats at DC's Mexican hotspot Oyamel as often as three times a week, according to general manager Michael Iglesias. The very busy Penn Quarter restaurant is owned by Kass's pal, superstar chef José Andrés, who has been invited to cook at an "intimate" luncheon First Lady Michelle Obama will host at the White House on Saturday for the spouses of G8 leaders.

Mrs. Obama has dined at Oyamel with Kass, and she was there for a big party in January.

"Sam Kass is in our restaurant twice a week, three times a week," Iglesias told Eater DC. "He's a dear friend of José's."

"They have a good connection through the White House with all of José's work on childhood obesity and all of his work with Michelle Obama. So Sam's a dear friend. He loves eating ceviche. Sometimes he's just sitting there doing work. But we love taking care of Sam."

Andrés serves glorious embroideries on traditional dishes, and Kass has hailed Oyamel as one of his favorite restaurants in the past.  He's also said he loves Andrés' Zaytinya, where both he and Mrs. Obama have dined, separately and together.  Zaytinya serves Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisine that is deliriously good.

As for Mrs. Obama's Oyamel party in January?

"She took over the whole back dining room," Iglesias said. 

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor also visits "quite often," Iglesias said.  And Kass is not the only chef who loves Oyamel; there's a who's-who list of DC's most talented who drop by.

As pointed out in a previous post about Andrés, his restaurants have loads of repeat business from high-profile Washingtonians not only because the food is delicious, but also because he is a model of discretion. The chef loves Twitter, but never tweets about his guests--or about his guest-chef stints at the White House.

"We get a lot of dignitaries. José doesn't tweet it, we don't talk about it, we like them to have privacy," Iglesias said.

Except when giving interviews to Eater DC, of course....

Info: Oyamel is at 401 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004. Phone: 202.628.1005. Zaytinya is at 701 9th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20001. Phone: 202.638.0800.

Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama