Press

Washington Post — “DC Diners Going Off Menu With a Selection of Supper Clubs and Dinner Locales”
December 4, 2014

Madrecki’s menu in November was among the most creative of the pop-ups attended for this story. It began with his take on three-star Michelin chef Alain Passard’s “L’Arpege egg”: Madrecki subbed out the egg for sake-cured roe, which, combined with maple syrup, vinegar and yogurt, was an inventively sweet and sour appetizer. A subsequent aged beef was topped with lovely purple leaves of angel wing begonia, a lemon-pepper-flavored plant that no one at our table had ever heard of, much less eaten. Madrecki’s girlfriend acted as hostess, and his friends stepped in as servers. But despite the pop-up sensibility, the event ran with the professionalism that could be expected of a full-time establishment. He and his staff seemed at ease in the space. It’s almost as if it was theirs to begin with.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine — “This Year’s Rising Stars: 40-Under-40 Tastemakers”
October 2014

They make it, distribute it, sell it and educate about it. “It” being the pours we all love. Meet the tastemakers who are changing the way Americans drink.

Washington City Paper — “Chez Le Commis Supper Club Returns at Dolcezza on June 29”
June 4, 2014

Chez Le Commis is back, and this time the supper club from part-time chef Tom Madrecki is heading to the Dolcezza factory near Union Market. The June 29 dinner will include six courses and unlimited biodynamic wine for $135. Rare bottles will be available to purchase as well. Tickets are available here.

Yahoo News / Thrillist — “7 Secret D.C. Supper Clubs You Need to Join”
April 25, 2014

Tired of fighting the crowds for a table at a hot restaurant on 14th Street? Secret, under-the-radar dinner clubs are popping up all over DC, and if you’re going to find your way into any of them, you first need to know how to score yourself a seat, as some of them (much like that band you USED to like) sell out quickly. Luckily, we have the details on how to land a spot in seven different secret DC dining societies.

Urban Turf — “Best Foodie Trend of 2013: The Rise of the Supper Club”
December 19, 2013

The District’s most interesting new wine venue is Vin de Chez, a pop-up bar in the parking lot of Union Kitchen, a shared commercial space in Northeast. It’s the creation of Liz Bird and Tom Madrecki, two 20-somethings intent on proving that wine can be taken seriously yet still be fun. It also gives me the perfect excuse to discuss millennials and wine; after all, baby boomers tend not to drink wine in parking lots.

Washington Post — “Millennials and Wine, A Quirky Relationship”
October 23, 2013

The District’s most interesting new wine venue is Vin de Chez, a pop-up bar in the parking lot of Union Kitchen, a shared commercial space in Northeast. It’s the creation of Liz Bird and Tom Madrecki, two 20-somethings intent on proving that wine can be taken seriously yet still be fun. It also gives me the perfect excuse to discuss millennials and wine; after all, baby boomers tend not to drink wine in parking lots.

So what do millennials drink? Madrecki, who runs a private supper club called Chez le Commis out of his Clarendon apartment, fashioned Vin de Chez’s wine list to feature natural wines, primarily European bottlings from small family producers that use a minimalist approach and often flout the bureaucratic rules that dictate how wine should be made. It’s an eclectic, slightly subversive list with a decidedly anti-authoritarian bent. You are more likely to read about these labels in obscure wine blogs than in magazines such as Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.

The Kitchn — “Tom’s Home Supper Club Space”
October 2013

Considering the recent abundance of food-centric publications with an emphasis on more intimate dining experiences with smaller crowds, Tom Madrecki had the right idea to start an intimate monthly supper club early on. In the cozy dining space that he’s carved between his kitchen and living room, he hosts and prepares succulent dishes for friends and strangers alike, all from a modest one bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia.

Wall Street Journal — “A Skeptic Sidles Up to the Wine-Bar Boom “
September 20, 2013

Thomas Madrecki and Elizabeth Bird also sought surprising wines for their almost-open Washington, D.C. wine bar, Vin de Chez, which happens to be located in a food-truck parking lot. Mr. Madrecki, the owner of the supper club Chez Le Commis, found a parking lot that actually came with a liquor license (thanks to the food-truck kitchen next door), and decided to open a wine bar focusing on wines from small producers in lesser known Old-World regions.

The D.C. wine-drinker community is clearly eager to stand in the still-weed-strewn space; although Vin de Chez doesn’t officially open until Sept. 29, the wine bar is booked solid with reservations on opening day, according to Ms. Bird.

Washingtonian — “7 New Outdoor Drinking Spots to Try Now”
September 6, 2013

You may be sipping rare French vino in a sweater when the pop-up wine bar by the Chez le Commis crew debuts on September 29. The Union Kitchen parking lot will transform into an al fresco wine garden at least once this year (possibly twice, depending on weather), but expect more regular sessions come spring 2014. 1100 Third St., NE; vindechez.com.

Washington Post — “Pop goes the wine bar: Vin de Chez at Union Kitchen”
August 21, 2013

Eager to expand and democratize his project, Madrecki is going public next month with Vin de Chez, a pop-up wine bar in the parking lot of Union Kitchen, a shared commercial cooking space, at Third and L Streets NE.

“I’ve been looking for a way to do larger events, but it needed to be the right fit,” says Madrecki, a corporate communications manager who spent six months apprenticing at Noma in Copenhagen and Le Chateaubriand in Paris before launching Chez Le Commis in March 2012. A parking lot outside of a warehouse promises to be more casual and fun than a serious tasting menu served indoors, he says.

Washington City Paper — “Chez Le Commis Chef Launching Pop-Up Wine Bar at Union Kitchen”
August 20, 2013

Vin de Chez will have seating for 40, and eaters will rotate through like any other restaurant. It will offer a decidedly different flavor from the sit-down feel of Chez le Commis, but the foods will be familiar to those who’ve made it into his dining room.

From 2 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 29, people can stop by the pop-up for a cheese plate and glass of wine (the “unusual ones you won’t find in D.C.”) or spring for a fuller meal.

Madrecki says a drink and two courses will run about $30, less than his $50 supper club, which is priced to mostly cover costs. On the menu will be some of his more approachable offerings, like vegetable bouillon, tomato-cheese tartine, and braised lamb.

“There’s nothing on the launch menu that I would not describe as ‘just tasty,’” Madrecki says.

Washingtonian Magazine — “Pop Up Alert: Vin de Chez”
August 20, 2013

As for the menu, don’t expect your ubiquitous charcuterie boards and crostini. Though the setting will be casual, many of the dishes will reflect the ambitious flavor pairings of the supper club. You might snack on Madrecki’s riff on a meat and cheese plate—here Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese, Vietnamese cured pork, and basil-infused pickles—or fresh bread with house-made butter. Larger shareable plates include rockfish with celery ceviche and lamb with trumpet mushrooms. Reservations aren’t required for the communal wine bar, but will be for certain dishes that contain pricey ingredients and/or take considerable time to prepare. A whole octopus for four, braised in herbed vinegar and then quick-roasted to caramelize the flesh, requires three days’ notice; squab aged for a week in a temperature- and moisture-controlled environment (in Madrecki’s case, a “college-style mini fridge that’s really clean”) requires a 14-day preorder. Fortunately, one of my personal favorites from Chez le Commis is available anytime: homemade popcorn ice cream with a rich brown sugar caramel sauce and a dusting of cheddar powder, basically the best of the caramel and cheddar popcorn worlds combined.

Fete by Stephanie Marie — “You Should Get to Know… Tom + Chez le Commis!”
May 21, 2013

Q: Where do you turn for inspiration? Chefs, blogs, restaurants, food photographers…
A: I read and collect cookbooks, but it’s almost an academic exercise. You look at them so that you know what the rest of the world is doing, and then you try not to do that. Travel inspires me– the sights, the sounds, the feeling of being in a foreign land. Music inspires me– there’s something about the way it connects with us, in a way I don’t think the culinary world full understands yet. We have to get to their level. You know how some music comes on, and you have this very physical reaction? You just want to dance. And in a way, that’s my goal in cooking, to cause that physical reaction, but in this case I want to elicit a smile.

First We Feast — “10 Up-And-Coming Chefs To Keep On Your Radar”
April 24, 2013

The UVA grad, who staged at Noma and Le Chateaubriand but works a nine-to-five for a DC lobbyist, started the dinners in March 2012 because “I’ve always loved to cook and I was bored on weekends.” … Madrecki says of his double life: “My chef friends joke that I’m like the daywalker in Blade—I can move between two totally different worlds and get along in both.”

Roll Call — “D.C.’s Clandestine Dining Destination”
April 18, 2013

He plays with everything from texture to temperature, conjuring salmon seared on a single side (crackling skin gives way to velvety flesh) as well as cucumber-spiked slush ignited by pickled Serrano peppers (yowza!). Tequila-drenched scallops were bold and beautiful. A light dusting of maple sugar injects sweetness into the mix without stealing the spotlight from the pulse-quickening seafood. A mouth-watering rib-eye arrives enrobed in garlic butter, a less-is-more masterpiece Madrecki maintains is exactly what he’d most like to devour after a grueling day at work.

A blistered potato embellished with butter, maple syrup and sea salt is an insta-favorite. “Yeah, we’ll be having this for breakfast tomorrow,” one guest proclaimed while greedily dispatching the salty-sweet spud. Madrecki even manages to convert a few skeptics with his alterna-grilling tactics.

“When I think barbecue, I do not think octopus,” a dinner companion opined upon being presented with deeply charred cephalopod. In the end, the marriage of smoke-infused seafood and tangy-sweet sauce (pomegranate molasses-black olive puree worked like gangbusters) proved irresistible; our cautious friend polished off his portion before several others huddled around the same table.

Foodshed Magazine — “Foodshed Wine Dinner”
Late Winter – Spring 2013

There’s foodie and then there’s … obsessed. Artist. Nut. Wunderkind.

So why isn’t he working in a professional kitchen now?

“I have a chance now at 24 to make a point, cook my food, and leave it for the world to judge. My kitchen is freedom.”

Refinery 29 — “7 Inspiring D.C. Chefs To Know (& Love) In 2013”
January 18, 2013

Madrecki’s supper club, Chez Le Commis, surprised everyone when it was included in Washingtonian restaurant critic Todd Kliman’s “Best in Food 2012” list. That’s not a bad endorsement for a young man whose “restaurant” is his small Clarendon apartment…

Arlington Magazine — “Psst…Pass It On!”
January-February 2013

Inspired by the paladares of Havana, Madrecki’s Chez Le Commis is an underground restaurant that flies, for the most part, below the radar of zoning laws and health regulations by accepting only “donations” for food and drink. (At Commis, that would be $50 per head.) As in New York and London, which have dozens of such alternative dining spots, news of upcoming dinners is spread via word of mouth and social media.

Washingtonian Magazine – “Best in Food 2012: Beyond the Linen Napkin”
December 7, 2012

One-upping him in effrontery if not execution is 24-year-old publicist Tom Madrecki, whose culinary bona fides consist of unpaid stints in the kitchens at the renowned Noma in Copenhagen, Le Chateaubriand in Paris, and Zaytinya in DC’s Penn Quarter. Madrecki stages Chez le Commis in the unfurnished living room of his one-bedroom Clarendon apartment. (The $50 charge essentially covers the cost of ingredients for six courses plus wine.) You can marvel at his willingness to handpick the crab for his salad while scanning the spines on his bookshelf.

The night I attended, one course bombed and another was kind of blah. But the rest were pretty brilliant. And you have to love the kid’s daring, the gumption of trying to pull off haute cuisine in his cramped living quarters.

“Can you believe we’re eating this where we’re eating this?” the guy across from me asked, dazzled and a little bewildered, as he smeared butter the color of tar (squid ink, of course) on a slice of crusty bread.

Washingtonian Magazine – “Food Lover’s Gift Guide: Boyfriend or Girlfriend Gifts”
December 4, 2012

You’ve been out to dinner plenty. Make it a special occasion—but not a too-formal one—and snag two hard-to-get reservations for a small group dinner at the semi-underground supper club Chez Le Commis from Tom Madrecki. $50 per person through Chez Le Commis’s website.

The University of Virginia Magazine – “Jefferson Thanksgiving Challenge”
November 20, 2012

The simple name of this dish underscores Madrecki’s cooking philosophy, which he calls “worldly and minimalist.”

“When you pare things down and make them minimal the flavors can become more intense,” he says. “I try to pay respect to what the ingredients are.”

Chez Le Commis has received accolades from the Washington Post, as well as Flavor Magazine, probably because Madrecki goes the extra mile. “I drove four hours the other day to get fish straight from the fisherman.”

Edible DC – “Pilgrimage to Noma”
November 3, 2012

“DC is not a place that [historically] embraces things that stand out,” says Madrecki. “They embrace things that are go-with-the-flow, or meet expectation of what food should be. It’s conservative and it tends to also be a derivative town compared to somewhere like New York.”

He says that Washington needs something that is representative of the abundance of people that are coming into the city. “In a lot of ways, I think people don’t even know what that is yet. But we’re trying to capture that and be at the forefront.”

Washingtonian Magazine – “Dream Kitchens 2012: Secrets of the Home Chefs”
October 3, 2012

Chez Le Commis, where a dozen guests are served four “modern minimalist” courses such as pork with tobacco-infused oil … [in] a six-by-nine-foot space in a one-bedroom Clarendon condo.

Washington Post Express – “Exclusivity is Overrated”
June 28, 2012

The 20-something chef behind Chez Le Commis has never stepped foot inside a professional cooking class. Yet he still landed kitchen internships at D.C.’s Zaytinya, Le Chateaubriand in Paris and Noma in Copenhagen (deemed the best restaurant in the world for the past three years by Restaurant magazine). … His multicourse meals hosted at his Clarendon apartment rotate according to the season’s bounty (such as mackerel with green garlic, and sweetbread with summer squash) average between $40 and $50 per meal and tend to go late into the night. “The definition of a good dinner party is when everybody has such a good time, they want to stay at your apartment for too long,” he says.

Washington Post – “The Joy of Innovation”
April 30, 2012

Area foodies are dispelling the notion that Washington is too conservative to embrace experimental concepts. Underground dinner parties, where guests are not allowed to disclose the location or the host’s identity, have been gaining popularity in the past two years.

Dinner requests are growing at the Web site for underground restaurant Chez La Commis. Tom, the chef who requested anonymity to maintain privacy, started sending out e-mails to friends of friends in January to try out his creations. A public relations executive by day, budding chef by night, Tom serves six-courses, with three wine pairings, for $40 out of his home in Clarendon. Word got out in the blogosphere about his dishes, such as crab salad with cucumber granite, and foodies started e-mailing requests to attend his clandestine supper club.

“Because there is no barrier aside from the cost of ingredients, you can get as creative as you want,” Tom said. “When you free people from the formal setting of a restaurant, the atmosphere becomes more lively. That matches the type of food I put out.”

Flavor Magazine – “Underground But Way Above Average”
April 20, 2012

The first course was blackberries with roasted beets, olive oil and yogurt cream with red pepper. The second was a sublime decomposed crab salad with cucumber granite, buttermilk-yogurt sauce, dill-fennel oil, and roasted fennel. Third was a minimalist take on a traditional Mexican stew with a rich brown lamb and goat broth studded with paper-thin slices of Serrano chili and a single square of roasted pork belly with crispy skin. Fourth was squid ink-braised octopus with purslane and shiso. The fifth course was another stand out: seared Maryland rockfish with a silky turnip puree dotted with rosemary oil and flecked with fresh lavender (it’s not easy to cook with lavender; it often tastes medicinal and astringent. Tom handled it masterfully). Finally, dessert was a mango and wheat beer…. something. A pudding? Odd, delicious, and served with very thin slices of sponge cake.

The name? Le Commis is the lowest man on the totem pole – an apprentice — in a traditional French restaurant.

L’appel du Vide Travel Blog – “Underground Dining in the District”
March 2012

So how exactly do you end up at an ”underground resturant?” Basically, you go online and register. James Bond stuff, right? Once you select a date, you will be emailed with the menu and instructions on how to find your dining location. Then you show up, eat, drink, be merry and leave a donation for the cost of food and wine.