All words: Stephanie Breijo
All photos: Jeff Martin
“When we cook I feel like we go big, usually when we’re entertaining.” One step inside the home of D.C. dining power couple Tiffany MacIsaac and Kyle Bailey and it’s quickly apparent–their cozy but fully stocked kitchen is a scenescape of every cooking appliance imaginable. On the black marble countertop you’ll find: one Vitamix, one juicer,a toaster, a Keurig coffee machine, one French press, a Cuisinart food processor and two teakettles. (Kyle drinks a lot of tea at home, Tiffany later adds.) Their dining room bookshelves house cookbooks, yes, but it’s more likely you’ll notice the shelves of pots, pans and a second instant coffee machine first. On top of the fridge, next to fully stocked cabinets, sit copper pots and mixing bowls.
Cooking is the lifeblood of both parties; it is virtually everywhere you look. It’s exactly what you could and should expect from Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s chef duo, a husband-and-wife team that captains the kitchens at Churchkey, Birch & Barley, Buzz Bakery, GBD, and the soon-to-open, highly anticipated Bluejacket. Kyle says their overstock at home is part convenience; when something goes awry at one of their restaurants, they’ll usually have a backup they can run over from home. Home, by the way, is in Annandale with two cats–Nugget (friendly) and Murderface (shy)–and their excitable Pomeranian, Hoagie Bear.
“The daily commute can either be 30 minutes or it can be two hours,” Kyle tells me. He outlines their days quickly, his beginning at GBD’s kitchen churning out gourmet doughnuts and fried chicken, then moving on to Birch & Barley, and capping his afternoon with a stop at Bluejacket down by Nats Park. Tiffany is up early baking and works late crafting wedding cakes at Buzz Bakery. All this travel lends little time to put their impressive collection of kitchenware to use by the time they head home, so it’s not entirely a surprise when I open their stainless steel refrigerator to find freshly sliced lunch meat (purchased from Red Apron Butchery, another in the NRG family), Smjor imported Icelandic butter, and virtually every type of mustard known to man.
I reach hand over hand to remove six or seven opened mustards from the fridge door. “They’re all mustards!! There’s MORE mustard!” Tiffany opens up a cabinet to reveal three more. “We’ve got backup mustards here.”
The late-night snackers return home from grueling days in kitchens across Northern Virginia and the District and prefer a simple sandwich (or some Chinese takeout), though they do admit that Red Apron’s Nathan Anda has been inspiring them to buy quality ingredients and cook at home more often.
The overwhelming majority of their fridge, however, isn’t comprised of food at all; it’s beer. There are cans of Guinness, bottles of Dogfish Head, large-format craft brews, alcoholic ginger beer, and the odd bottle of wine.
“I usually save the large formats for Sunday night.” Kyle notes that he works long Sundays. “I love working that day because it’s traditionally the chef’s day off so I’ll be there making sure everything’s running smoothly. Plus,” he laughs,”I’m sort of a glutton for punishment.” After that, he comes home, relaxes with a large format beer, puts on a show like “Ancient Aliens.”
We stare into the glow of the fridge. “That’s the one thing I don’t like about this house is the fridge is so small,” Tiffany says. For any non-chef (and especially for anyone who isn’t two professional chefs), the fridge is normal-sized. I mention the beer takes up 80 percent of their space and Tiffany laughs, admitting it’s true.
She tells me she does most of their shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Total Wine. “When we got to the grocery store we make lists but forget what we already have.” This explains her three bottles of Sriracha in the kitchen and the unopened bottle in their cupboard. Next to the Asian condiment there are a few errant bottles in the door; Tiffany picks up a Synergy Cherry Chia drink about once a week. Her tip? Add the ginger flavor to a Moscow mule. All citrus in the fridge, in fact, is used for cocktails too.
Lest we forget the freezer, I take a quick peek before heading out and find more proof of cocktail appreciation: Death Star ice cube balls. In the frozen Bailey tundra I also dig up four varieties of Ben & Jerry’s, one pint of 7-11 homemade strawberry ice cream, coffee patron xo (a gift, Tiffany swears), 750ml of Jäger (“We used to drink a lot of Jäger when we lived in New Jersey,” she notes), one Digiorno pizza–better than anything delivery they can order around here (“Anyone who makes pizza here should be ashamed of themselves”), more ice balls, and some homemade chicken stock.
In total, the sleek yet warm kitchen is everything we hoped we’d find from one of the District’s most popular industry couples. Though their busy schedules keep them from cooking on their home turf, we’re selfishly OK with that; after all, that just means more for us.