Published on July 16, 2018

Chef Haidar Karoum of Chloe on Summer Vegetables and the Washington Nationals

After 17 years of hard work in the kitchen at Proof, Estadio, and Doi Moi, chef Haidar Karoum took a quick break (a well-deserved one "year off") before coming back in a big way. Karoum opened up his first solo project, Chloe, at the start of 2018 in DC's Navy Yard.

The abundance of glowing press says it all: the restaurant's a hit. We chatted with Haidar about how he finds inspiration, what excites him about summer cooking, and, just in time for MLB All-Star week, the city's beloved sports teams.

Photo of Haidar Karoum, chef/owner of Chloe in Washington, DC.

Congratulations on such an amazing reception from diners in such a short time. How do you feel about all the press Chloe has received?
The response from the media, the critics, and guests has been so kind; it’s truly a blessing. I’m super happy and feel like we’re where we are suppose to be right now - it just all feels right. The most important thing to us is that we treat each guest like they are our last and that each person leaves with a good impression.

You drew inspiration from several different cuisines to build your menu, what are you excited to cook at home and how does that translate back to the Chloe menu? I was able to cook at home before we opened, but now I'm mostly cooking at the restaurant. Besides, cooking in a condo sucks. Working with different ingredients gives me the opportunity to travel with each dish. I never get tired of researching and can be inspired by a cookbook I’m reading, the memory of a smell from when I was 13, or my girlfriend’s Korean background … anything!

What ingredients do you look forward to in the Summer? Any thoughts on dishes you will want to create for the next season, Fall?
It’s a really exciting time; I’m working with heirloom tomatoes, corn, green and Romano beans, the bounty of the fields and markets. Then we will get stone fruit. I love being able to smell the peaches and apricots a block from the market. Next will come peppers and chilies, and in October, eggplant will be in its prime!

Photo of an oyster dish at Chloe.

Chloe is your first solo project. What advice would you share with other chefs about what you’ve learned so far? My advice is to take your time and be conservative. You may only get one shot at this. It’s better to be rewarded than defeated. Make a thorough business plan and hire the right folks. Some of my team have been working with me for more than 16 years. These relationships are priceless and make starting a restaurant easier. It’s like getting the band back together.

How has your DC location at the Navy Yard near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium helped your traffic? Are you a Nationals fan?
There is so much activity and excitement. The area is growing quickly. You see more buildings going up all the time. I’m happy to be a part of this neighborhood. The energy from the stadium can be felt everywhere, and I’m becoming a bigger Nat’s fan everyday. What they, and especially right now the Caps, are doing is bringing excitement and a great energy to the city. 

A big thanks to Haidar for offering his time to speak with us and for his partnership with Reserve. Do you too want to be featured? Email your Restaurant Success Manager and let us know!

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