How One Chef Keeps the Focus on the Farm–While Opening More Restaurants – Q&A with Joe Goetze of Founding Farmers

Joe Goetze’s official title at Founding Farmers is executive chef, but everyone simply calls him “Chef Joe.” He presides over the kitchen at Founding Farmers, a farm-to-table concept in Washington, D.C. owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union. The restaurant is grounded in a philosophy of sustainable operations, natural ingredients, and regional sourcing (except for the Durham wheat, which comes straight from North Dakota).

Goetze oversees a menu that focuses on continental comfort food. It’s made from scratch daily, so there are no freezers—except to keep ice cream frozen and glasses chilled behind the bar. Many of his most popular dishes are represented in the restaurant’s first foray into publishing, The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers, which Andrews McMeel published at the end of October.

The restaurant group currently owns three eateries, including another location of Founding Farmers in Park Potomac, Md. and Farmers Fishers Bakers, which is situated down in D.C.’s Georgetown Waterfront. Goetze will have one more restaurant to keep tabs on next year, when the group opens its third Founding Farmers in Tyson’s Corner, Va. Goetze found time to chat with his about all of his impending projects and more.

Read the Q&A on Plate‘s website now (free registration required).

Photo courtesy of Founding Farmers.



Founding Farmers Cookbook Signings in Washington, DC

I’m excited to announce a series of signings in the DC metro area to commemorate the publication of The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers. The restaurant’s executive chef, Joe Goetze, will be hand at all of these events to also autograph copies. Hope to see you there!

Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show – Cookbook Sale and Signing
Saturday November 2 from 12pm-3pm and Sunday November 3 from 11am-2pm
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place, Washington, DC

Founding Farmers DC – Cookbook Release/Signing Event
Tuesday, November 5, 4-7pm
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Guests who purchase two or more cookbooks at the event receive a $10 Be Our Guest Gift Card for Farmers Restaurant Group locations.

MoCo’s Founding Farmers – Cookbook Release/Signing Event
Wednesday, November 6, 4-7pm
12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, MD
Guests who purchase two or more cookbooks at the event receive a $10 Be Our Guest Gift Card for Farmers Restaurant Group locations.

Farmers Fishers Bakers – Cookbook Release/Signing Event
Thursday, November 7, 5-8pm
3000 K Street NW / The Washington Harbour, Washington, DC
Guests who purchase two or more cookbooks at the event receive a $10 Be Our Guest Gift Card for Farmers Restaurant Group locations.


Chefs’ Tests – When the experts dine out, critical thinking is the order of the day

There’s nothing wild about the kitchen at Bethesda’s Wildwood Kitchen during the lunchtime rush. Chef-owner Robert Wiedmaier presides over the quietly energetic operation like a conductor wearing an apron instead of a tuxedo.

As each dish comes to him, he studies it for a moment. He might add a drizzle of harissa oil or wipe a smidge of something off the plate’s edge. Sometimes he just gives a satisfied nod. Once he’s sure that every element is right, he sends the food out to the waiting diner.

“I’m a mistake finder,” he admits later, after he has stepped away from the kitchen. “I’m trained to look for problems.”

If you think you’re a picky diner, you should see a restaurant through chefs’ eyes. They’re always looking for imperfections from every possible angle. And they go out a lot to see what the competition is doing and to catch up with their industry friends.

“I study everything from the moment that I walk in,” says Wiedmaier, who dines out three times a week in between working in his six restaurants. “Are the windows clean? Are the lights working? Did somebody welcome me? Were they smiling?”

That initial impression is key, as well, for chef Joe Goetze of MoCo’s Founding Farmers in Potomac. “It’s all about the first 30 seconds for me,” he says. “I want a restaurant to stimulate my brain and be creative about it.”

Once they sit down, chefs survey their surroundings again. “I don’t like flowers on the table,” says Bryan Voltaggio, chef-owner of Range in Friendship Heights. “If their scent is too strong, it can overcome the aroma of the food.”

Finish reading this article on the Bethesda Magazine website now.

Photo courtesy of Bethesda Magazine.


The Ten: Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

We’ve started digging out our sweaters and using the briskness as a talking point during conversational lulls, so we want something hearty and heartwarming when we go out to eat. Nothing is more universally comforting on a chilly autumn day than a good grilled cheese sandwich. So we rounded up 10 favorites that are a perfect panacea for shivers and S.A.D.

Founding Farmers

The triple threat at this cradle of comfort food with locations in Foggy Bottom and Park Potomac is packed with Muenster, white cheddar and Gruyere. It comes with a cup of roasted tomato soup that’s perfect for dipping.


The Swiss Bank Account at this Cleveland Park wine bar is the 1% of grilled cheeses. That’s because translucently thin prosciutto and creamy, cellar-aged Challerhocker cheese are slathered with truffle butter before the sandwich is grilled golden brown.


Bryan Voltaggio forgoes the molecular gastronomy of Volt and keeps it simple at his canalside grab ‘n’ go in Frederick. For his grilled cheese, thick slices of Tilamook cheddar are bookended between fresh slices white bread. Just like Dad used to make when he was in charge of dinner.

The Big Cheese

It’s a truck that sells nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches – genius! Our favorite is the Cherry Glen, which uses creamy chèvre from its namesake then spreads on a sweet, citrusy lemon fig jam.

Grilled Cheese & Co.

The Sweetest Thing at this Catonsville hot spot will convince you that grilled cheese can be dessert. Golden-griddled triangles of thick white bread hold together creamy mascarpone cheese, raspberry preserves and gooey melted chocolate chips, which nicely offset a thick layer of funky brie.

Find out the rest of the top ten by clicking over to CityEats’ Plate blog now.


Pop Stars: Restaurants Craft House-made Sodas

If you’re looking for sodas on Founding Farmer’s menu, look in the Farmacy section.

That’s where the Potomac, Maryland, restaurant lists its house-made scratch sodas like lemon-lime, hibiscus, and vanilla, as well as New York egg creams, a Manhattan-style pop perked up with coffee and espresso, and a rotating cast of old fashioned phosphates.

The only commercially produced options are Coke and Diet Coke, which are not as popular here as their multibillion dollar advertising campaigns would lead you to guess.

Chief mixologist Jon Arroyo—you could call him the other king of pop—estimates that his handmade bubblers account for 70 percent of all soda sales.

Over at Washington, D.C.’s modernist Italian hot spot Elisir, seasonally inspired house-made sodas like rosemary-pear and strawberry-rhubarb sell at a three-to-one ratio compared to their commercial counterparts.

General manager Justin Kraemer oversees the pop program, which he views as an extension of the restaurant’s craft bar approach and a philosophical obligation.

“It’s a cop out to sell mainstream sodas if you have the ability and knowledge to make something better,” he says.

Finish reading this story on the Restaurant Management website now.


Pop Stars – Restaurants will fill your cup with fizzy fruit juice and herbs

A new trend is bubbling up: Restaurants are making their own sodas in-house, without the high-fructose corn syrup, the preservatives or the weird additives you usually gulp. Cool off this summer by ordering up one of these refreshments — in sizes even New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg would approve of.

Founding Farmers

From-scratch sodas are so popular at this farm-to-table restaurant’s Potomac location that they outsell Coke and Diet Coke combined. Chief mixologist Jon Arroyo wants to drop commercial colas entirely, so he’s been working on his own version for more than a year. “It’s the hardest soda to make,” he says. “Just think of all the artisanal colas you like. There probably aren’t any.” The good news is he’s already nailed the pineapple pop ($5), which includes a squirt of lime juice and fresh mint. 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, Md.; 301-340-8783.

Finish reading this article on the Express website now.


Restaurants With Benefits

You don’t need a red carpet or a gaggle of paparazzi to feel like a VIP. Many restaurants offer special services even to nonfamous patrons. “We’ll bend over backwards for guests,” says Kristopher Diemar, general manager at Carmine’s in Penn Quarter, who has run out to buy toys for crying children and arranged to have flowers waiting for couples. “We like to help make special occasions even more special.” Here are our favorite perks and how to access them — no secret handshakes required.

Lending a Hand
When you sit down at this backroom speakeasy for an evening of craft cocktails, you’re given a complimentary hand towel. Delivered steaming hot during the cold months or refreshingly chilly amid the heat, the towels are scented with seasonal essences. Right now, they come with a heady, herbal blend of lemon, lavender and fennel.
Columbia Room
, 1021 7th St. NW; 202-393-0220. (Mt. Vernon Square)

Office Space
Business never stops. So, if you’re amid a meal and get a call that requires you to act quickly, just ask to use the restaurant’s business center (available from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.). Equipped with Wi-Fi, a printer and mailing supplies, you can consider it your second office — one where you can order bacon lollipops and tater tots.
Founding Farmers Potomac
, 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, Md.; 301-340-8783.

Finish reading this article on the Express website now.

Photo courtesy of Firefly.


Dream Cheese: Our Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Spring is almost here, but there still may be frosty days on the calendar. Keep comforted by enjoying one of these cheesy sandwiches.


Fabio Trabocchi is best known for the white-tablecloth cuisine at his Penn Quarter dining room, but he does blue-collar classics just as well. His grilled buffalo-mozzarella-with-basil sandwich accompanies a steaming bowl of rustic Tuscan-style tomato soup.

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888

Bob & Edith’s Diner

For more than 40 years, this 24/7 roadside diner has been using white bread and orange American-cheese singles to make grilled sandwiches that taste like what you probably had as a five-year-old—and are still good at any hour.

2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-920-6103

Finish reading this article on the Washingtonian website now.

Photo courtesy of nettsu on Flickr.