It was five years ago that Chef Ryan Ratino decided to open Bresca, a Parisian bistro on 14th Street.
“I was 26 when we opened, and I just wanted to have a successful restaurant that the city loved, and first and foremost, satiated people’s stomachs and their hearts,” he says. “We were hoping to have this successful, fun, vibrant place for people to go and hang out and enjoy a modern bistro and have a really good meal, but not feel like you had to button up.”
It wasn’t long before the accolades and praises came in, including achieving a Michelin star in the first year and earning “Best of” honors from numerous publications.
Over the last five years, Bresca has become one of Washingtonian’s favorite culinary spots, and Ratino has enjoyed the evolution of the establishment from its beginnings as an a la carte restaurant, to a pre-fixe style since returning from the pandemic.
“We’ve matured as cooks and chefs, as well as individuals, and the culture of the restaurant has changed a lot,” he says. “I empower the team to treat this as a career. As a restaurant, we constantly reinvest and make the space better than it was every week.”
To celebrate the five-year anniversary, Ratino had what he calls, “a crazy idea” — to bring in chefs from around the country to have five nights of special dinners.
“We knew we could have a lot of fun with this, and our team could meet new teams, and we’re working with people who we have been inspired by since the opening of the restaurant,” he says. “The chef community is so generous, so it wasn’t very difficult to put together.”
The dinners will be held on five consecutive nights from September 21 through September 25, starting with Chef Jeremiah Langhorne from The Dabney on the first night, offering a menu of foods inspired by the Chesapeake area and honing Mid-Atlantic flavors in his plates.
Chef Lee Wolen, from the Michelin-starred Boka in Chicago leads the kitchen for night two on September 22, offering an American-inspired menu. The next night, Chef Thomas Allan from New York’s The Modern inside the Museum of Modern Art, helms the kitchen. Ratino describes his dishes as “refined and playful, which emphasize the seasonality of ingredients.”
On September 24, Chef Patrick Kriss from Toronto joins Ratino in utilizing some time-honored French techniques in creating an elegant meal, perhaps with a touch of Japanese influence.
Finally, the grand finale for the anniversary week of meals ends with what is being labeled, “Bresca’s 2017 Remix,” where Chef Ratino will revisit some of the dishes and beverages that first put the restaurant on the culinary map.
“We wanted to re-serve our opening menu, with all the years of maturing and new techniques that we’ve learned, and reengage some of the dishes that got us where we are at that we haven’t served in years,” Ratino says. “One of my first dishes that got a lot of love when I was in D.C., was sea-urchin linguini, so we will bring that back. Also, the oysters in black cheese snack, which was a huge favorite, foie gras cake pops, dry-age strip loin and plenty of other goodies.”
Nationally-renowned cocktail expert Juan Coronado, who created Bresca’s opening cocktail menu, will also be on hand to celebrate.
Dinners are priced at $298 per person and optional wine pairings can be added for additional pricing. All five special events can be purchased for $1,950 per person, which includes menu, an elevated beverage experience, anniversary swag, plus a chartreuse and champagne reception the final night.
“The support of the community has been so huge — especially through COVID-19, when takeout was wildly successful, it just set the tone for us still being here today,” Ratino says. “My team has evolved tremendously and push forward the vision, and all of that has led to our success.”
Looking ahead, Ratino sees Bresca continuing to forge ahead with the pre-fixe and tasting-menu, staying ingredient-focused and fostering an environment for career growth for young cooks.
“Hopefully in turn, it keeps the restaurant here for a long time,” he says. “We’re having a blast and love being in D.C., and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.”
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