A native of Maryland’s eastern shore, John received classical
training at the Culinary Institute of America. Since then, his resume
reads like a who’s who of the D.C. food scene. After graduating
in 1992, John became part of Red Sage’s opening team with
Mark Miller. From there he landed a job with Ris Lacoste at 1789.
John developed a talent for Asian cooking when he worked at Asia
Nora with Munehiro Mori and Christian Thorton. By 1997, Nora Pouillon
recognized John’s skills and named him chef de cuisine at
Finally in 1998, it was the recommendation from nationally acclaimed
Chef Matthew Lake of New Heights, who worked with him at Red Sage,
that launched John’s first stint as an executive chef - at
New Heights. In that position, Wabeck enjoyed the freedom to design
New American menus that showcased a myriad of cultural flavors.
More recently, John was lured to California’s wine country
as executive chef at Brix in Yountville. Here, Wabeck further honed
his skills in melding French and Asian cuisines while also studying
Napa Valley wines. In fact, he spent three months working at Darioush
Winery, a boutique winery that produces only 10,000 cases a year.
He cleaned barrels, harvested grapes, and occasionally entered the
tasting room. His insider’s knowledge of grape varietals enhanced
his skill in pairing the perfect wines with his menu at Firefly.
John came back to D.C. to open the bar and lounge for the Hotel
Rouge and Topaz Hotel before being given the opportunity to open
Firefly, a true American bistro that is as straightforward and uncomplicated
as it is exceptional. And it’s not just buzz.