Executive Chef, Firefly Restaurant
Firefly's executive chef, Todd Wiss, loves the idea of a melting pot that America is the place where you can blend a wealth of culinary traditions while reimagining classic dishes with healthy, seasonal ingredients. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he brings more than 10 years of diverse experience to Firefly, where he served as Chef de Cuisine under Chef Daniel Bortnick prior to assuming the Executive Chef role in July 2013. "I believe food should represent all the varied cultures and people of the United States," explains Wiss. "I try to build on American classics in a way that's approachable, seasonal and fun."
A native of Washington DC's Glover Park neighborhood, Wiss knew he belonged in the restaurant industry after spending summers at his grandparents' landmark restaurant, the Green Leafe Café in Williamsburg, VA. He has worked in some of the most esteemed kitchens in the DC area, including Poste Moderne Brasserie, Ten Penh, Sulgrave Club and Black's Bar and Kitchen. He also ran the popular Radius Pizza in DC's Mount Pleasant neighborhood for several years.
In his spare time, Wiss enjoys gardening and spending time with his wife and two dogs.
- Q: What are your favorite things to forage?
- A: Greens... things like lamb's quarters (a relative of spinach), purslane and dandelion.
- Q: What's your favorite dish to make with foraged ingredients?
- A: The Washington DC area is great since it has so much diverse terrain. I like to forage for wild herbs, greens, and fruits. In the spring wild strawberries, in the summer blackberries. In the fall chestnuts, and walnuts. Recently I found a fig tree.
- Q: Where do you go to dive into nature?
- A: I really enjoy hiking in Prince William national forest south of the city near Quantico, VA. I like to hike there with my wife and dogs.
- Q: What's your favorite season for foraging?
- A: Early spring when chive blossoms and wild lettuce can be found and then again in the fall.
- Q: What do you bring with you on foraging expeditions?
- A: A mushrooms identifying guide! So I don't pick the wrong mushrooms and poison myself.
- Q: What are you on the lookout for, but haven't managed to turn up?
- A: Ramps (wild leeks), Morel mushrooms, and Chanterelles mushrooms.
- Q: Have a particularly memorable foraging story?
- A: I was foraging in my wife's late grandparent's yard in Delaware right after meeting the family. The family had no idea that those ingredients were there! I found "dinner" in their yard. Wild onions, chive blossoms, and purslane. Her grandmother nudges my wife and told her "I was a keeper".
It's time to put on your chef's hat and work some magic of your own. Have a taste of Chef Todd Wiss' Wild Herb Vinaigrette with Purslane wild strawberries, and Feta.
Firefly | 1310 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: (202) 861-1310 | www.firefly-dc.com