Of Food and Furniture

As a design writer, I’ve always loved that the Blue Duck Tavern in DC’s Park Hyatt Hotel extends its aesthetic from kitchen to table. The tables and chairs were all handmade by Thos. Moser in his Maine studio, and represent the type of simple, classic Americana that you’ll find on the menu.

I was a little skeptical, however, when the tavern announced it would create a menu  “inspired by woods used to create Thos. Moser’s original designs,” to be served in Moser’s Georgetown showroom as part of its seasonal #ParkHyattMasters dinner series. The dinner took place last Friday.

Cheese and charcuterie expert Chris Yates stands beneath the Thos. Moser sign as artisan Warren Shaw constructs a chair in the foreground. All photography by Rich Kessler of Thos. Moser

 

Moser’s many chair designs surround the dinner tables.

 

The menu, separated into categories named after Moser chairs.

 

“Building a chair is like cooking a fabulous dish—it’s all ingredient based,” Park Hyatt General Manager Jon Benson told me. “One you sit on, one you consume. It’s a marriage made in heaven.”

The evening started with charcuterie and cocktails. Lead bartender Cole Burger described the tipples as a play on wood—cherry and oak.

 

“It’s a little take on what wood can do for a cocktail as well as the dining room,” Burger said. The cocktail on the left included gin aged in oak barrels, while the cherry mixed calvados with cherry-wood smoked grenadine and cherry-heering liqueur.

Cole Burger

 

Next, we moved to the “living room,” where showroom manager Kevin Sweitzer introduced us to the new Hancock chair—a contemporary design with a woven-leather seat that riffs on the traditional American ladder-back chair. You can see it below on the left, just beyond the sofa.

 

Now here’s one of my favorite stories of the meal: Blue Duck Tavern General Manager and Sommelier Joseph Cerione served a Spanish Rioja—a wine that’s aged in American oak from Appalachia.

Joseph Cerione

“The wood you’re sitting on and the wood that this wine was aged in are essentially the same growing regions,” Blue Duck Executive Chef Troy Knapp said. “We have influenced the Spanish wine culture with American oak,” he added, explaining that it gives the wine distinctive overtones of vanilla, dill and coconut that it wouldn’t otherwise have.

Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy introduces white-stone oysters and fluke crudo, which was served with the Rioja, while Troy Knapp listens.

 

All the while, craftsman Warren Shaw was constructing one of Moser’s very first designs—the continuous-arm chair—as guests went through the showroom in this progressive-style meal.

Showroom manager Kevin Sweitzer introduces Shaw.

 

Shaw at work while guests mingle

 

“It really boils down to American craftsmanship,” Benson told me.

Yours truly, with Jon Benson

 

Designer Tony Chi was behind the decor for the Park Hyatt hotel the West End—an aesthetic that exudes Americana. “What better craftsman than Thos. Moser to represent the value of American woods? Our hotel is very textural and yet represents the elegance of the craftsmanship of people like Thomas Moser,” Benson said.

And then it was time for the real show—a meal of dishes soon to be added to the Blue Duck’s spring menu.

Beef short ribs with a spring-pea salad, cauliflower salad with almond yogurt and farro, and grilled beets with house-made farmer’s cheese, arugula pesto and candied walnuts

 

Pretty much everything was done over a wood flame, Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy explained. He and Knapp created the menu to give the meal a comforting, tavern feel—just like the Moser showroom. And of course, it was all served on gorgeous wood platters.

 

But here’s the best part: Knapp said he instantly knew which wine to serve with the meal when he found out about this dinner. The fact that it paired perfectly was almost beside the point.

See that label?

“There was only one wine for this,” he said of the South African Syrah.

 

 

After dinner, we were served Willoughby cheese from Vermont on house-made crackers, along with fortified wine from the Champagne region of France. “I look for people are are interested in making their cheeses by hand—similar to what you have here,” said Chris Yates, Blue Duck’s cheese monger.

Warren Shaw shows off his progress while guests hold their Champagne and cheese plates.

 

And finally, Pastry Chef Erin Reed introduced her delectable: Jasmine rice pudding, mousse with bacon caramel corn (yes, you read that right), and—wait for it—cherry blossom truffles, the perfect ending to this spring meal in Washington.

 

So, food themed on furniture? I get it now.

The dinner group gathers on a huge, rounded bench in the center of the Moser showroom.

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Comments

  1. Jen, you get the BEST assignments! 😉 Loved the post. Cheers! — Ashley

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