The most amazing part of being a food blogger are the moments of unexpected surprise!!! Here’s an example: I left Charleston with my suv packed and my daughter in tow and we embarked on a 2 week road trip. Our destination was plotted with the intention of pulling over halfway to Vermont and checking into a hotel when we got tired and rest for the night. I had posted some pics of our road trip on my Instagram feed and received a call from a friend of mine that I grew up with in Michigan who lives in DC and saw we were traveling and insisted we stay the night with him. The only downside was that he already had plans for the evening and couldn’t entertain us. NO PROBLEM! We are explorers and love finding adventurers to get in to. It appeared that we were about 2 hours from where he lived in Falls Church and it was at that time I posted this message on my Instagram feed: “Falls Church, Virginia. You Got Restaurant Recommendations, I Need Them For Tonight!” Within minutes I had several replies to my post, one of them was from a chef that I know in Charleston and whose food I love! He messaged me and told me to call him right away. I did and he excitedly told me that he actually grew up in Falls Church and that without a doubt I needed to go to the restaurant that he learned to cook at and where his mentor was a chef. DONE. I reset the GPS and we were on our way! Destination: Clarity (Vienna, VA). www.clairtyvienna.com
Blair Machado is one of my favorite chefs in Charleston and I value and respect his recommendations like gold. He made a call to his former mentor who he credits for teaching him everything he knows and told him that he had a friend who would be stopping in that eventing. When we arrived Chef Jonathan Krinn welcomed us with open arms and cooked and served us one of the most amazing meals I have ever had. The restaurant was busy but it didn’t stop him from personally bringing us each course. He shared stories about his career and his family. My FAVORITE thing he shared was learning that his father (a retired optometrist, baked the bread everyday). We loved it…my daughter ate 2 loafs herself…I especially loved the chocolate and cherry…WOW! I enjoyed 4 amazing and savory courses before having to tell Chef Krinn that I couldn’t eat anymore. The entire experience was so unexpected and really a treat…but the best thing about the meal was that I had the opportunity to experience one of the single most exciting bites of food of my entire life. Its rare, but as a food lover you know when its happening…you take a bite and magic happens…the harmony of flavors, the delicate balance of savory and sweet being held together by just the right texture composition. When food magic happens…it hits you like a bolt of lightning. Your palate comes alive like that instantaneous moment when the mythical lamp is rubbed and a genie appears! POOF! You rethink the course description, you look over the plate again and thoughtfully take the second bite…which confirms that, YES that first bite was as amazing as you had thought!
I experienced one of those magical food moments with the 4th course that Chef Krinn brought to the table. The dish was: Pepper Crusted Venison, Foie Gras, Lamb Bacon Marmalade with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potato, Red Wine Sauce with Bitter Chocolate. It was everything I could ever hope and dream a perfect bite to be. The venison was flavorful and tender, the foie gras melted in my mouth, the lamb bacon was tasty, the beets were delicious and the sweet potato puree tasted like summer! I took a bite and knew that moment would be one of the highlights of my 2 week vacation but also one of those special culinary moments in life, that I’d look back upon fondly and be able to remember, always. The food was special, and meeting the mentor of one of my favorite Charleston chefs was the icing on the cake.
People always ask what is it that I love most about food. The answer is: food brings people together, it is a thread that sews together stories, relationships, friendships and experiences. Being a food blogger is a beautiful thing, I get to weave together the pieces and share people’s stories and offer food suggestions along the way. And let me tell you this, if you are ever in the DC area, I highly recommend finding Clarity and making it a point to schedule a meal there! ITS FANTASTIC!
Clarity: 422 Maple Ave E, Vienna Virginia 22180
Chef: Jonathan Krinn
Food: really great stuff that you need in your life!
A few words from Chef Krinn:
Me: Who was your mentor? What was an influence(s) on you while you were learning your trade?
Chef Krinn: I worked for Michelin 2 Star Chef Gerard Pangaud in DC. Following four years of extremely intense work, he sent me to Monte Carlo to work with Alain Ducasse and other Michelin starred Chefs all around France. That set my intention to have the highest standards for my cooking.
Me: What do you love about your job?
Chef Krinn: Bringing people together – providing a platform / environment, and actually requiring them to be creative, to collaborate, and to be themselves. I love making people happy they are in the restaurant business. I am proud that young cooks I trained come back to work for me years later as Chefs. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else – I absolutely love food and people.
Me: What’s your favorite thing that you cook and why?
Chef Krinn: Sauces – it’s the most difficult job in the kitchen to execute at a high level. Sauces make the dish
Me: What inspires you?
Chef Krinn: 1/ My family 2/ The opportunity express myself any way I want to on any given day within a thriving business model (who wouldn’t want that?)
Me: What is the food scene around you and what makes what you do and Clarity different?
Chef Krinn: Virginia is the home of the Inn at Little Washington, so we have always been relevant. Northern Virginia and the Tysons Corner area itself is a Top 15 business activity city in the country, with foodies galore. We are all looking for Clarity in our lives, and Clarity is a restaurant – a dress it up dress it down bistro – with a simple mantra. We are to be the best part of everyone’s day that comes here, guests and employees. I open the kitchen because we have fun cooking and I like my guests to “feed” off of our vibe (pun intended ?). My guests enjoy gaining insight into my cooking, my life, and my vision. I am an open book, and that elicits trust throughout the environment.
Me: As a mentor what do you try to offer to someone who is eager to learn?
Chef Krinn: I’m game for anyone who wants to play ball. I strip them of any pre-conceived notions they have about the business and about themselves, and then begin to build them a foundation for their career starting at the most basic of skills – control of their ego and opening one’s mind to true learning. It’s very hard to guide yourself in anything. I am very proud to be trusted to guide.
Me: Thoughts on Blair:
Chef Krinn: He wanted to play ball. I did the above and he thrived. He is a truly grateful person and he listens – 2 qualities that are hard to learn and directly contribute to success.
A few words from Blair Machado:
Me: What did Chef Krinn offer you while you were learning to cook? How did he mentor you and how did you get the chance to learn from him?
Blair Machado: Chef Krinn took me under his wing when I was about 17 years old at a restaurant called 2941. I was working in the front of the house then and he said he saw something in me and talked me into starting to work in the kitchen. I worked for him for about a year before leaving for college. After one semester I came back and worked another year for him before heading back to Richmond to work in kitchens there.
Me: What are some of the tools that Chef Krinn equipped you with that you utilize today in your cooking?
Blair: The most important thing he’s taught me is to never settle in anything I do in the kitchen and to continually strive for perfection in all I do. I learned respect for the industry and the overall drive to be great, from him. He game me the confidence and knowledge to cook anywhere and anything. He has been there for me and offered me advice over the last 10 years. He has helped me with some of the biggest decisions in my career. He has recently helped me with the decision to leave working at The Park Cafe (where I was executive chef) and go to work for Damon Wise at Scarecrow Co. Chef Krinn knew I needed to be challenged and said that is how you grow…by constantly being challenged and never stop or settle.
Me: What do you love about cooking and why?
Blair Machado: I love that I can learn something new everyday I step into the kictchen. Its my own little world of self development and understanding.