Chris Jakubiec was always a picky eater, despite his mother being a great cook. But after a year and a half of studying biological science at University of Vermont, and a series of odd jobs, he attended New York’s French Culinary Institute. It was an intense, eye-opening experience, as the recently vegan chef had to face butchering chickens on his first day of class.
Right out of school, Jakubiec landed a job at 44 at The Royalton in New York City, where he was exposed to a stellar parade of culinary talent, from Jean-Michel Lorain to Jean Pierre Vigato to Marc Maneau. Then Damon Gordon was brought in to be executive chef, and he and Jakubiec formed an instant bond that spanned years–and the continent (at the Delano Hotel in Miami, Mixin New York City, ONO at New York’s Gansevoort Hotel, and opening the 140-seat Ivy in San Diego). They were lured back east, this time to Washington, DC, to open the newly renovated Jefferson Hotel and its fine dining room Plume. Two years later, Gordon returned to the West Coast, but this time his long-time protégé stayed behind and in 2011 was promoted to executive chef of The Jefferson Hotel.
Jakubiec’s culinary program is fairly traditional, but it glimmers with the unexpected. His keen sense of humor inserts itself into dishes like Green Eggs & Ham, where the eggs are actually produced with organic “green” practices and served with Virginia salt-cured ham, mushrooms, and baby fingerling potatoes. With a refreshingly whimsical and relaxed approach in the context of the formal and beautifully appointed Plume, Jakubiec’s seasonal menu promises a meal not just for a special occasion, but a meal that can make any occasion special. True to his roots–and to Thomas Jefferson’s own inclinations–Jakubiec also maintains a handful of delectable vegetarian dishes on the menu. But whatever a diner’s preference, Jakubiec’s understanding, experience, humor, and talent help to overcome any diner’s pickiness.