Chefs Christian Irabién and Adam Greenberg Take On Summer

By Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién, photography by Jennifer Chase

  Corn, peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes are the stars of a pool party menu.

Corn, peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes are the stars of a pool party menu.

Christian Irabién and Adam Greenberg. Two chefs opening new restaurants in DC this fall. Two very concepts and cuisines. The team at Edible DC asked them to come together for a collaborative menu for a pool party using four of our favorite summer fruits and vegetables. Bravo, chefs! The wonderful result was a colorful explosion of summer flavors. Both Irabién and Greenberg explain their concepts:

  Ensalada de nopalitos con quelites (Fresh cactus salad with field greens)

Ensalada de nopalitos con quelites (Fresh cactus salad with field greens)

Irabién grew up in his family's restaurants in Mexico and Texas and in his grandmother's kitchen. After spending several years in finance and international development, he searched for some sense of purpose and slowly found that in food. He did culinary studies at night while working full time, staging wherever he could on weekends until he felt ready to make a hard left and cook full time. 

  Pickled blueberry mignonette with oysters

Pickled blueberry mignonette with oysters

He tells us, “There are two main roots the restaurant concept is born out of: The first, my need to share my story and experience as a Mexican-born, American-raised person in a quest to find identity through the flavors and ingredients I grew up with. Secondly, to push back against the notion that the Mexican diet is purely made up of tacos and tamales. I'm tired of people telling me what Mexican food is and isn't. I am just trying to create a great place to eat great food in a place I would go eat and hang out in with a lot of soul, a lot of masa and a lot of mezcal.

  Aguachile de camarón con durazno (Shrimp and peach aguachile)

Aguachile de camarón con durazno (Shrimp and peach aguachile)

This place will be Amparo Fondita, a modern and authentic Mexican restaurant that pays homage to the heritage-based cuisine of Mexico’s many and diverse coastal regions. According to Irabién, Amparo is all about disruption, and a representation of what the modern Mexican's diet is, beyond tacos and quesadillas. Disrupting the notion that Mexican food must continue to be a caricature born out of the same cut and copy template.

 Brined pork chops with peach compote

Brined pork chops with peach compote

Greenberg has been cooking since he was a teenager, with a lot of varied experience. But he found his inspirations for his first restaurant, the upcoming Coconut Club, on the West Coast. He loved the atmosphere and cuisine at San Francisico’s highly rated Liholiho Yacht Club, a restaurant credited with delivering a true taste of Hawaiian island food life. Greenberg’s vision to create his own version is well underway as he is completing the buildout of space working with DC-based design firm Edit Lab, that will have diners experiencing an airy, light-hearted, escapist feeling of being away. He aims to cater to guests who love adventure and travel, and everything from the music to the carefully created tiki drinks with locally sourced ingredients will reinforce the island vibe.

 Chefs Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién

Chefs Adam Greenberg and Christian Irabién

The menu at Coconut Club will feature fresh raw fish in poke, crudos and ceviches and small plates of island-styled food. Greenberg wants to exemplify the simplicity of cooking that he has learned through his travels, and offer options like octopus, duck, bulgogi while also paying homage to Hawaiian classics as well.

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Christian Irabien is a Mexican native who has led teams in renowned kitchens, receiving accolades for his Executive Chef role at Calavera in Oakland, Ca. and Jose Andrés’Oyamel in Washington, DC. Christian has been an integral part of the rising DC restaurant scene, collaborating with non-profits, restaurants, food banks and farms in the area as an active participant for better working conditions and wages for restaurant workers; while also strongly advocating for a better local food system. His restaurant, Amparo, will open later this fall at 3110 Mount Pleasant St NW in the historic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of D.C.

Adam Greenberg started his culinary career at the age of 18 and attended Johnson & Wales. After years honing his skills as a sous-chef, including at the Providence Oyster Bar under Tom Colicchio, learning how to cook the perfect steak at The Capital Grille and finally landing as Chef at Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford, CT in 2008, he moved up in the group, becoming Executive Chef at Barcelona Wine Bar on 14th Street in D.C. A four-time champion of Food Network’s Chopped, Greenberg is currently filming another soon to be announced television show and readying to open his restaurant, Coconut Club, in the Union Market “Blue Shed” in the fall.