Table Talk

Table Talk

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, sous chef Chris Mack and more

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Let’s Talk Turkey

The Nobadeer, layered with sliced roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on sourdough, is the most popular sandwich on the extensive menu of sandwiches and salads at Jetties, the local mini-chain with a shop in Bethesda. Not surprisingly, the Thanksgiving-inspired combination, named after a beach on Nantucket, is not nearly as appealing to customers during Thanksgiving. Here’s how it stacks up (numbers are approximate):

260: Number of Nobadeers sold on average each week at Jetties Bethesda

70: Number of Nobadeers sold during Thanksgiving week only at Jetties Bethesda

60 Minutes of Fame

Chris Mack gets lots of second looks.A woman dining recently at Bethesda’s Mussel Bar & Grille kept pointing toward sous chef Chris Mack—to the point where Mack looked behind him to see if something was on fire. But no; the diner had simply recognized him from an episode of the Food Network’s Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.  

Those 60 minutes of fame keep on ticking for Mack, even though the episode was filmed in May and aired in August.

“They throw every curveball at you,” Mack says of the grueling experience, which pits four chefs against one another in a series of challenges to earn the top position at a restaurant (Abigaile in Hermosa Beach, Calif., in this case).

Mack, who previously was at Quench and has been at Mussel Bar since June, made it to the last round of the competition, but neither he nor the other contestant was chosen for the executive chef job. He was offered a sous chef position at the restaurant, which he declined.

Mack was required to sign a contract mandating that he not disclose the results to anyone before the show aired. His family jokes that his most impressive accomplishment during the whole endeavor was keeping his mouth shut.

Double Duty

This year, for the first time ever, Day One of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. And Chevy Chase pastry chef, cooking teacher and cookbook author Paula Shoyer has the perfect dessert for those celebrating the dual occasion: pumpkin doughnuts.

Eating foods fried in oil is traditional for the Jewish holiday, and pumpkin in some form, of course, is a Thanksgiving must.

Shoyer’s recipe for this holiday hybrid is just one of many included in The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts (Sterling), her new book scheduled for release Nov. 5.

Organized by Jewish holidays, the book includes 120 recipes. Shoyer says most were tested at least three times—and some as many as eight. You can order the book at for $26.49 as well as at

On Tapas

Looking for a hostess gift or stocking stuffer for the holidays? Or maybe some prepared items for your own get-together?

Local chef and internationally known culinary innovator José Andrés recently launched a line of artisan food products from Spain that just may fit the bill. José Andrés Foods offers olive oils and sherry vinegars, canned mussels (Galician-style and in escabeche, a spiced oil-and-vinegar marinade), olive oil potato chips, rustic toasted bread, and vegetable classics such as pisto (tomatoes, peppers and zucchini) and escalivada (roasted red peppers, eggplant and onions in olive oil).

The products were slated to hit shelves in early October at Whole Foods Markets in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg and Tenleytown. They range in price from $5 to $20 and also can be ordered online at

Getting into A Crunch

Rockville resident Ester Nae never cared for commercially made granolas, finding most brands too sweet, dry and hard. So she started making her own, handing out samples to friends and neighbors. One thing led to another, and in 2008, Ester’s Granola was born.

Over the past five years, Nae’s business has taken off. Her product is available in more than 40 stores in the Washington metropolitan area, and Nae now offers eight flavors, including citrus almond and maple pecan.

The boost in her business allowed her to stop working at a local gift shop this year and devote herself full time to the company. Aside from her husband, an airline pilot who helps out when he’s around, she also has hired an additional employee.

To make the fresh-tasting granola, Nae zests oranges, hand-roasts peanuts and uses organic honey or maple syrup instead of high-fructose corn syrup or sugar—creating a lightly sweet granola with a perfect consistency that is delicious eaten as is, without milk or yogurt.

Ester’s Granola, available in 14-ounce containers, costs between $6 and $7 at Grosvenor Market, Rodman’s, Dawson’s Market and Cottage Monet, all in Rockville; the TPSS (Takoma Park Silver Spring) Co-op, Creative Cakes and Snider’s in Silver Spring; and the Chevy Chase Supermarket and Brookville Market in Chevy Chase.

Nae also sells homemade granola cookies at local farmers markets, which are available by special order during the winter. Cookies cost 75 cents each and can be ordered online at or by emailing The minimum order is a dozen.

Comings & Goings

Switching from red sauce to salsa, Roberto and Riccardo Pietrobono, owners of Olazzo restaurants in Bethesda and Silver Spring, were slated to open Gringos & Mariachis, a taqueria complete with mescal and tequila, at 4928 Cordell Ave. in Bethesda sometime this fall.

Bethesda won’t be starved for French bread and pastries—Fresh Baguette, a French-owned bakery, was headed this autumn to 4919 Bethesda Ave.; in another year or so, PAUL Bakery, an international French-owned chain, will open a couple blocks away in the upcoming development at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues (Chop’t Creative Salad Company has also sealed a deal for a shop there).

Also in mixed-use development news, six chain restaurants have signed up for spaces in Rockville’s future Pike & Rose complex: Del Frisco’s Grille, Protein Bar, Roti Mediterranean Grill, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and Lettuce Entertain You’s Stella Barra Pizzeria and Summer House-Santa Monica.

Big news for Gaithersburg: A branch of Brasserie Beck, the contemporary Belgian brasserie chef/owner Robert Wiedmaier started downtown in 2007, is replacing the former O’Donnell’s Sea Grill in the Kentlands. Look for an early 2014 opening.

Also in 2014, the Caribou Coffee shops in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Rockville are slated to be converted to Peet’s Coffee & Tea as part of a recent ownership change.

Carole Sugarman is the magazine’s food editor. Send restaurant tips or Food Find ideas to

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