We Bitches love our French fare. Whether it’s a light Nicoise salad or a juicy order of steak frites, we’re down to devour. But given our lack of francophone authenticity, any Bitch will admit to her native obsession with a good ‘ole American burger — or a slice of New York Pizza for that sake.
Our fixations on both American and French cuisines led us to ask, who is the one and only master behind our favorite Washington burger spot, Good Stuff Eatery, and the ever-appetizing French restaurant, Béarnaise?
Enter Chef Spike Mendelsohn. Chef Spike is the chef and owner of four Good Stuff Eatery restaurants, two We, The Pizza locations, and Béarnaise, his most recent endeavor. A graduate of the Culinary School Of America, Chef Spike has worked at premier NYC restaurants such as Le Cirque and Mai House alongside appearances on Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Bar Rescue. In 2008, he opened his first restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery. As a Capitol Hill hot-spot, Good Stuff received nationwide acclaim for its Obama Burger and Michelle Melt.
Most importantly to us Bitches, Chef Spike recently opened Béarnaise, a French bistro that features the ultimate hangover cure brunch menu. With their first anniversary rolling around this June, we chatted with Chef Spike about his balancing act, brunch menu, and exciting future plans.
After gaining nationwide recognition on shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef, what made you want to start Good Stuff, a restaurant full of American favorites, as the pilot store of Good Stuff Eatery?
Good Stuff Eatery is a family affair. I moved down to DC from NYC to open the restaurant with my parents and sister Micheline. My parents have been in the restaurant business forever and it was a great opportunity to do something all together.
What’s it like to now balance three restaurants with such different menus?
It’s a great challenge and it makes everyday different. We have a great team in place for the restaurants. With four Good Stuff Eatery restaurants, two We, The Pizza locations and Béarnaise, we have our hands full. But when you have a strong vision and infrastructure in place, it is all within reach.
How have you enjoyed teaming up with your sister at your newest restaurant, Béarnaise?
Depends on the day. Kidding aside, it is great. We both have our strengths, which complement each other.
What inspired your brunch menu at Béarnaise?
DC loves to brunch. It was only natural that we started brunch service. We took some classic brunch dishes and put a French spin on it. We wanted our brunch menu to be fun, yet approachable.
How did your time on Top Chef influence your culinary career?
Being on Top Chef allowed me a lot of exposure and opportunities that I am grateful for. As a result, I get to travel a lot for work and participate in Food & Wine festivals around the world. It doesn’t get much better than that!
What’s your favorite brunch dish?
Brunch out or brunch in bed?
Brunch in bed.
Mimosas or Bloody Marys?
I’m a Bloody Mary guy. I have a special Bloody Mary at Béarnaise, with pepper-infused vodka, Sriracha and an Old Bay rim.
We love to find out where chefs like to eat. What are your favorite spots in New York and Washington?
In New York, I like to go to Bergen Hill in Brooklyn. I’m a Greek boy, so in DC, I like to head to Kapnos.
Where’s your favorite place to brunch in Washington, other than Béarnaise of course?
I’m a fan of the dim sum brunch at The Source.
What’s next for you? Any plans for another restaurant in the future?
I have a new show coming out this year called Midnight Feast. It’s a high-stakes, late-night culinary showdown. Tune into FYI to check it out!