Tom Madrecki at work in the Chez le Commis kitchen. Photo by Scott Suchman.
It’s been a few months since Tom Madrecki, host and chef of one the area’s most talked-about supper clubs, Chez le Commis, held an event.
Madrecki has moved out of the Arlington one-bedroom apartment where he hosted diners and decamped to DC, where he now lives near Eastern Market. Meanwhile, the demand for a seat at his 16-person table, Madrecki told UrbanTurf, continues to be out of control.
“Our mailing list is kind of absurd,” he said. “It’s approaching the point where there has to be other ways of channeling that demand.”
Starting in 2012, Madrecki, who has trained at such high-end restaurants as Noma in Copenhagen, started hosting 14-person dinners at his cozy apartment. Word spread quickly, and invitations for a $50 seat at Chez le Commis, which last hosted diners in March, are now emailed out to more than 1,000 people hoping to snag a spot. The vast majority are disappointed as seats fill up within just a few minutes of the email hitting inboxes. That wasn’t exactly Madrecki’s goal when he started the supper club, which is more about drinking a lot of wine, eating good food, having fun and meeting new people, at least to hear the chef tell it.
“You don’t want to always tell people no,” Madrecki said. “Special and unique don’t have to be exclusionary.”
In that spirit, the 26-year-old is looking at doing events that allow more people to get involved, and beginning to pivot away from the supper clubs hosted at his home, though those aren’t completely off the menu — they’ll just occur less often on special occasions. Upcoming events include a 65-person meal at Dolcezza near Union Market and a cooking class with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.
He wants to use “underutilized space” — cafés that shut down in the evenings, creatively-minded office spaces — as venues for eating and drinking at night. The events he hosts will be designed for the space in which they’re held, so while the evening at Dolcezza will have an upscale feel, an upcoming night at a small café will be “inexpensive and fun.”
Madrecki has successfully stepped away from the supper club model before, most recently with a successful wine pop-up, Vin de Chez, which operated out of a parking lot near Union Kitchen.
If you’re thinking Madrecki’s latest moves sound more and more like restaurants and less like a humble supper club, you may be onto something.
“I would like a restaurant on the one hand, but not having one means I’m not tied down to a physical space,” Madrecki said. “I have employees, but only on a one-day basis.”
The ambiguity brings a lot of flexibility and fun to Chez le Commis, which for Madrecki, who works full-time in corporate communications, remains an off-hours gig. He said he’s been approached by investors but is being cautious about moving forward. He wants to find the right space and an investor that will be a good fit.
“Any business requires everybody to be on the same page, and I’m probably more conservative about that than some people,” Madrecki said. “I’m not jumping to move out of a job or something like that, so I can afford to be a little more selective.”
It’s because of his seemingly split lifestyle that his chef friends call him “daywalker,” like the vampire who can stay out during daylight from the movie Blade. (Yes, Madrecki knows it’s an absurd comparison.)
“On the corporate side, people think I’m crazy,” he said. “And then my chef friends joke that I’m a sellout and I have this cushy desk job. It’s not a lifestyle that I want to continue forever, but it does have its benefits.”
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/whats_next_for_chef_tom_madrecki_of_chez_le_commis/8611.
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