Master chef R.J. Cooper is the star of the show at his newly opened Shaw neighborhood restaurant, Rogue 24. But 10 of America's top chefs will be taking over for him beginning January 2.
Just two months after the restaurant opened in November, a cardiologist who was treating Cooper for a genetic heart defect gave him devastating news: His heart-defect can cause sudden-death if it isn't treated.
"I'm like wait a sec. I'm 43 - this is for old people," he says.
Open heart surgery would mean Cooper would be out of commission for 10 weeks. But the father of twin 5-year-old girls felt he had no choice.
Cooper's extended family of chefs here locally and across the country jumped into action when they heard the news.
In his place, ten internationally known chefs from around the country will take over Rogue 24 for one week each during the Rogue Sessions, from January 10 to March 17.
The lineup includes Top Chef contestant Bryan Voltaggio and 2011 James Beard Outstanding Chef, José Andrés.
If you want to attend one or more of the Rogue Sessions, tickets are $185 and will go on sale a week in advance of each session starting January 2 at giltcity.com.
This includes the 24-course dinner featuring twelve of the visiting chef's dishes and twelve Rogue 24 favorites with wine and cocktail pairings. There will be 250 seats available per week (50 per night).
And Cooper says he'll be donate a portion of each ticket to Share Our Strength, whose mission is to end childhood hunger in America.
In addition to Voltaggio, the roster of chefs includes:
José Andrés (Washington, D.C.)Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup and 2011 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef
Tim Byres (SMOKE - Dallas, TX)Chef/Owner of SMOKE Restaurant in Dallas, featured in Food & Wine Magazine as having one of the Ten Best Restaurant Dishes in America (December 2010)
Jennifer Carroll (Philadelphia, PA)Chef/Owner of Carroll Couture Cuisine, formerly of 10Arts by Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin, and season 6 of Top Chef
John Currence (Oxford, MS)Chef/Owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group, 2009 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South, and season 3 of Top Chef Masters
Scott Drewno (Washington, D.C.)Chef of Wolfgang Puck's The Source and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington's 2010 Chef of the Year
Katsuya Fukushima (Washington, D.C.)Chef/Owner of the much anticipated Ramen restaurant Daikaya opening in 2012 and formerly of minibar and Café Atlantico
Spike Gjerde (Baltimore, MD)Chef/Owner of Woodberry Kitchen and Baltimore's preeminent Chef
Nancy Oakes (Boulevard - San Francisco, CA)Chef/Owner of Boulevard, James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef California, and San Francisco's most beloved Chef
David Posey (Chicago, IL)Chef of 4-star restaurant Blackbird and formerly of Alinea