Few chefs in the Washington, D.C. region claim as many accolades as Robert Wiedmaier, who was awarded the 2009 RAMMY for “Chef of the Year” and recognized by Esquire in 2007 for his Washington, D.C. restaurant Brasserie Beck, which the magazine named as one of 21 best new restaurants in the nation.
Credit an upbringing in Germany, where Wiedmaier’s Belgian father and American mother exposed the future toque to an array of cultures, including through French newspaper LA Monde, whose coverage of famed French chefs was of particular inspiration.
At his latest ventures — BRABO and BRABO Tasting Room, named for a statue in his father’s native Antwerp, Belgium — Chef Wiedmaier combines his classical culinary training in the Netherlands with a passion for sustainable ingredients to create Belgian-inspired, locally sourced cuisine. The avid hunter and fisherman highlights regional producers whenever possible, adding a local touch to techniques honed abroad at fine dining restaurant Thermidor in Hulst, Holland and with famed Chef Eddie Van Maele in Brussels.
Stateside, Chef Wiedmaier’s nearly three decades of experience began as Saucier at Le Chardon D'Or at the Morrison House in Old Town Alexandria, and has included roles as chef poissonnier at Le Pavillion, sous chef to Aux Beaux Champs at the Four Seasons Hotel in D.C., and executive chef at the Watergate Hotel, where he replaced mentor Jean-Louis Palladin before helping him open Aquarelle.
Chef Wiedmaier’s own ventures began with the 1994 opening of Café on M at The Grand Hotel and expanded to include Washington, D.C. establishments Marcel’s in 1999 and Brasserie Beck in 2007 before returning to Alexandria to open BRABO and The Tasting Room. The husband and father of two spends off-hours with his family in Kensington, Maryland.
Though his career has spanned cities and even a stint on TV, chef de cuisine Harper McClure met his match in Robert Wiedmaier, whose focus on European culinary techniques, whole-animal butchering and seasonally changing menus makes for a perfect pairing, first at Marcel’s in D.C. and now at BRABO and BRABO Tasting Room.
McClure’s love of farm-fresh fare and quality ingredients stems from his childhood outside of Syracuse, New York, where working on a strawberry field and farm near his home taught him about organic dairy, pastured chickens and natural foods. The culmination: attending the Culinary Institute of America, where McClure gained experience in charcuterie, sauce working and farming.
It was at Washington, D.C.’s Vidalia where McClure began his career, working under the tutelage of James Beard award-winning chefs Jeffrey Buben and R.J. Cooper, with whom McClure reunited after gigs at Atlanta’s Bacchanalia and D.C.’s Equinox — where he met his wife, Blair McCormick— to appear on “Iron Chef America” in 2010. As executive sous chef at Marcel’s, McClure honed his European-inspired style, leaving briefly to open The Federalist before returning to the Wiedmaier team and ultimately assuming his current role at BRABO.