A Day at the Market
Behind the scenes at the Bethesda Central Farm Market
Algerian-born and multilingual chocolatier Ismael Neggaz is also a globe-trotter. He’s been a pastry chef in London (where he met his wife), lived in Tunisia, attended cooking school in Boston, owned a chocolate shop in Guatemala, and spent 18 months backpacking and camping around Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. In 2010, Neggaz and his wife moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Four Seasons Hotel as a line cook. Three years later, he started making bean-to-bar chocolate again—this time at TasteLab, a commercial kitchen and food incubator in Northeast D.C.—and his company, Chocotenango, has won 17 international chocolate awards. His best seller is “Arabian Nights”—dark chocolate redolent with cardamom.
Celebrity chef José Andrés lives in Bethesda and regularly attends the market. On this day, a film crew accompanies him for a documentary that will be released this fall. Andrés is far from the only notable patron. Vendors say their clientele includes international diplomats, military brass, National Symphony Orchestra musicians, World Bank officials and other local power brokers, most of whom just want to quietly and anonymously enjoy their Sunday shopping.