all photos: Dakota Fine
Frederik De Pue is first to admit he doesn’t really eat at home a lot. With two restaurants (Table and Menu MBK, which, lets face it, is actually three different concepts in one) and a busy catering business, he is working six nights a week, and on the nights he has his kids with him – they tend to go to some of their favorite dining spots instead (2Amys is a big hit with all the generations).
Still, as we step into the sunny kitchen in his Bethesda home it is very clear that whatever IS there is definitely essential. It also shows that despite over a dozen years in DC, Chef De Pue is devoted to his Belgian food roots.
Top places of honor in this Ghent natives fridge: Avocat, an alcoholic custard he puts on ice cream and beyond, spicy Belgian mustards and, seemingly most importantly, Chokooff candies which his father regularly ships his way in care packages. “You have to try them” – he says – “but we have to wait till they get to room temperature”. Aparently, growing up, after leaving their grandparents, the De Pue children always searched their pockets for Chokotoffs since their Grandfather seemed to find a way to plant them in their without them seeing every single time. The love for the dark chocolate treats is still going strong.
Candy and condiments aside, the Belgian roots are also evident in his beer of choice (Hoegarden).
Beer aside, there is ALWAYS a good bottle of champagne and some sparkling water in the fridge as well as the mandatory bottle of Applejenever, though De Pue’s true love are whiskeys, scotches and portos he keeps in the dining area (Though the whiskey stones are basically the only thing kept in the freezer)
Aside from that – the fridge is brimming with cheeses (“You HAVE TO have your Boursin”), Gouter juices, some pasta, and pickles (some of which he sells at Menu MBK in case you were hoping to pretend Chef De Pue’s fridge was your own).
One thing that is NOT there? Fresh vegetables. “Since I don’t eat at home a lot, there’s not too much point” – he says. One exception: fresh jalapeno peppers which he grows in the garden alongside basil, and some other herbs. He uses them in his homemade pasta sauces when he cooks for the kids.
De Pue, busy as he is, does love his coffee and there is a simple but impressive set-up for that passion in the kitchen, including some new beans his friends are giving him to try often.
When asked if he wishes he got to spend more time at home vs in his restaurants, Chef smiles and says that as his friends would tell you, there is no chance he could just sit still. He’d get bored and drive himself insane in no time (next up at Menu MBK: Mad Men inspired chef tasting menus in September, followd by these themes: Russia (October), Thanksgiving (November), and Bistro Lyonnaise (December)).
But, he is quick to mention, while he loves being busy (and no, he DOESN’T care how you pronounce Table, for the record) he is enjoying being in a house vs the apartment he was in before, because the backyard and extra space is perfect for the kids (there was a fire pit being built in the back which we had to resist all urges of just parking ourselves in front of, and the front room is the location of one of the more impressive and organized LEGO collections we’ve stumbled upon)