ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The region's top chef, as voted by WTOP listeners, draws inspiration from his native Ireland and shops for ingredients at local farms.
Cathal Armstrong, the chef and owner of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, has been in the business 25 years. His route to becoming a renowned cook started after he dropped out of college to take a job washing dishes.
The ascent to becoming a chef involved a number of restaurant jobs along the way.
"Our local market and our family that comes to the restaurant all the time are the ones that we care about the most," he says.
"It's quite an honor [to be named top chef]."
Armstrong says about 95 percent of the food at Restaurant Eve comes from small, local farms.
"We look for the best, best ingredients that we can find. We spend a tremendous amount of time shopping and selecting vendors for the ideal quality product for us."
That passion was born out of his upbringing in Ireland.
"My father was a great natural cook, and he grew a lot of the food that we ate. [It] kind of gave me my inspiration for eating natural food."
Braised pork belly has been a signature dish on the menu since the restaurant opened.
"I really try to keep the food focused and not over manipulated and show off the best ingredients at their peak," he says.
Restaurant Eve features two distinct dining options. The first is a bistro, which is a bit more relaxed atmosphere. The preparation and presentation are somewhat casual.
The second is the tasting room, which is designed for those special occasions. The tasting menu offers 5-, 7- or 9-course options.
Each day, a team of chefs puts together the menus. Armstrong oversees the operation and the kitchen.
Check out the full menu.
Here's how all of the chefs did in WTOP's top 10:
- Cathal Armstrong - Restaurant Eve
- Bryan Voltaggio - Volt
- Mike Isabella - Graffiato
- José Andrés - Jaleo, Minibar
- Spike Mendelson - Good Stuff Eatery
- Geoff Tracy - Chef Geoff's, Lia's
- Michel Richard - Citronelle, Central
- David Guas - Bayou Bakery
- Eric Zeibold, City Zen
- DeMatha Stag wins WTOP's top high school mascot
- Jimmy's Old Town Tavern wins WTOP's top wings
- Crepes de Pouce Gras wings WTOP's top food truck
- Bagel City wins WTOP's top brunch
- So Others Might Eat ranks as WTOP's Top 10 charity
- Five Guys wins WTOP's top burger
- Paisano's wins WTOP's top pizza
- New Deal Cafe wins WTOP's Top 10 for best music venue
- Cheverly wins WTOP's Top 10 for best community
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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