33, chef-owner of Newton’s Table
It wasn’t that long ago that Dennis Friedman was a Walt Whitman High School student waiting tables at Ledo Pizza on River Road in Bethesda.
Even then, Friedman loved the restaurant industry and felt a connection to the people he served.
“Interacting with customers came naturally to me,” the soft-spoken Bethesda resident says.
Now 33, Friedman is connecting with customers on a much larger scale as chef-owner of Newton’s Table, which opened a year ago on Elm Street in Bethesda. The modern-American restaurant has received many positive reviews and is often packed on Friday and Saturday nights.
Friedman always believed he had a gift for the service industry. But he only considered becoming a chef after realizing that his heart wasn’t in attending law school as he’d initially planned.
Instead, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. That led to a stint with renowned chef Daniel Boulud at the restaurant Daniel in New York, where Friedman says the 100-hour workweeks were “the hardest but best thing I’ve ever done.”
He later worked at Michel Richard Citronelle and Kinkead’s in Washington, D.C., before becoming chef and co-owner of Bezu Restaurant & Bar in Potomac. He left Bezu to open Newton’s Table, and has since worked 14-hour days. He lives near the restaurant with fiancée Patty Pedroza.
Judith Mazza, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the international culinary society Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, says Friedman possesses the culinary chops to be a star, and the business acumen required for long-term success.
“His techniques are spot-on, and he has a sensitivity to ingredients that’s just tremendous,” Mazza says. “He’s also personable and kind, and is defined as much by the way he interacts with his customers and colleagues as he is defined by his cuisine.”