Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cathal Armstrong

Cathal Armstrong
The best chefs from around the world influence the way we cook our food, eat at restaurants, and inspire us to improve our cooking skills, knowledge, and ability. Chef Cathal Armstrong is one of the best-known chefs in the culinary industry, exhibiting great culinary command creativitiy, technique, presentation, and even business. Here is everything there is to know about best chef Cathal Armstrong, including Cathal Armstrong's biography, history, interviews, and recipes that made them the great chef he is today.

Cathal Armstrong

Specialty: American regional cuisine

Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt St. Alexandria, VA, United States
(703) 706-0450 
The Majestic
911 King St. Alexandria, VA, United States
(703) 837-9117 
Eamonn's a Dublin Chipper
728 King St. Alexandria, VA, United States
(703) 299-8384

Cathal Armstrong Biography
Irish chef Cathal Armstrong’s cuisine and philosophy reflect ideas planted in the atypical Dublin household of his childhood, where garlic was used fearlessly and fruits and vegetables were grown in the garden. The family’s travel business launched Cathal Armstrong into a myriad of different countries, cultures and cuisines where he began to develop an appreciation for gastronomy in the differing landscapes of Europe. As the family traveled, Cathal Armstrong was educated in the languages he now speaks fluently: English, French, Spanish, German and Irish. For those not versed in the Dubliner’s native language, the “t” in Cathal is silent. At the age of seven, Cathal Armstrong began his annual student exchange in France with the Boudain family. His food curriculum involved visiting truffle-farms and vineyards, eating peasant-style food and picking fruits and vegetables on the farm. These early culinary experiences inspired Cathal Armstrong’s philosophy. He is committed to sourcing locally, valuing animals and respecting the land, so much so that Cathal Armstrong cites innovative farmer David Lankford of Davon Crest Farms in Maryland as one of his biggest inspirations. Cathal Armstrong is now an active member of The American Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the nation’s agricultural resources. At the age of 20, Cathal Armstrong opened a fine dining restaurant in the Dublin suburbs with two partners. After a two-year tenure at The Baytree, Cathal Armstrong decided to move to Washington DC where for the next 11 years he moved his way through various top kitchens learning the fundamentals from mentors including Greg Mitchell of New Heights and Jeffrey Buben of Bistro Bis. It was during his time spent at Gabriel under Gregory Hill that Cathal Armstrong met his future wife and business partner Meshelle Armstrong. Together, they dreamed of a place where they could balance a commitment to farmers with their vision of fine dining. The Armstrongs found it in Alexandria, where in April 2004, 13 years after first arriving in DC, they opened Restaurant Eve. The modern American restaurant (with French, Spanish and Irish influences) showcased Cathal Armstrong’s playful personal style and deep-rooted commitment to purveyors. In the summer of 2006, Cathal Armstrong opened Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper and PX, or The PX, a cocktail-driven speakeasy lounge five blocks from Restaurant Eve. Both venues are named for Armstrong’s children, Eve and Eamonn. Cathal Armstrong has since been inducted into the Share Our Strength Leadership Council, a group of culinary notables from around the country who advise this non-profit dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in the U.S. Cathal Armstrong’s self-described “pork fetish” and the Irish roots at the base of his culinary experience are showcased in decadent but playful dishes like “Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.” The dish makes full use of the versatility of pork fat with a cured and braised pork belly, seared to order, a tender crepe with ham and leeks, and a rich golden cheddar foam.

Cathal Armstrong’s first kitchen job was extremely inauspicious. While studying computer programming at a university in Dublin, he washed dishes at a local pizzeria on the side. But when a cook fell ill, Armstrong stepped into the kitchen to help. He never left. At the age of 19, emboldened by his time at the pie shop, Armstrong tried his hand at opening his own fine-dining French restaurant, The Baytree, outside Dublin. “I did everything that you should not do in the restaurant business,” he says of the learning experience. “After 10 months we decided we’d lost enough money and left the project.” He moved to Washington, DC, in 1990, and worked in pubs and then high-end restaurants throughout the city. In 2004, he broke off to open his own project, Restaurant Eve, in Alexandria, Virginia. Eve was an immediate success and best chef Cathal Armstrong, along with his wife, Meshelle, quickly expanded their holdings to include a fish and chips shop, Eamonn’s, and a speakeasy, PX, in 2006, the same year he was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef. In 2007 the Armstrongs took over operations of an Alexandria institution, The Majestic, and followed that up with the gastropub Virtue in 2011, and the food retail palace Society Fair in 2012. A second location of Eamonn’s opened in August 2012, in nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Born into a family with a passion for food and travel, Cathal Armstrong grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where he spent his days in the family’s fruit and vegetable garden. Through the Armstrong family’s travel business, young Cathal Armstrong was exposed to different cultures and cuisines throughout Europe.
At the age of seven, Cathal Armstrong began an annual summer student exchange with a French family. These summers were spent amidst truffle farms, peasant food, and local vineyards. The best chef developed strong values for fresh ingredients, humane animal care, and concern for the land.
After working in various Irish kitchens, Cathal Armstrong met his wife and business partner, Meshelle. The two moved to Virginia to create Restaurant Eve, where the farmland and atmosphere would be similar to “home.” The goal at Eve is to create straightforward, ingredient-based food.
In 2006, the Armstrongs, with their business partners, opened Eamonn’s: A Dublin Chipper, which is, naturally, a fish-and-chips shop, as well as PX, the hip speakeasy lounge upstairs. Most recently, Cathal and Meshelle restored The Majestic in Old Town Alexandria, featuring Virginia-inspired fare.
Best chef Cathal Armstrong was a James Beard Foundation Best Mid-Atlantic Chef nominee in 2007 and 2008. He was also honored as one of “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine and StarChefs Rising Star in 2006.

Native Dubliner Cathal Armstrong was born into a family with a passion for food. That passion, unusual for families in Dublin at the time, was fueled not only by his family’s fruit and vegetable garden, but also by his father’s appreciation of other cultures and cuisines. Cathal Armstrong’s father owned a travel business and would regularly take his family on holidays to neigboring Europen countries and around the world. Cathal Armstrong was exposed to the markets, seafood and products indiginous to that nation. Ultimately, he would be introduced to the wealth of the food world, develop an appreciation for gastronomy and become educated in the languages he speaks today: English, French, Spanish, and his native Irish.

As a youth, Cathal Armstrong attended Coláiste na Rinne, the well regarded all-Irish boarding school, for one year and Coláiste Eoin (meanscoil lán ghaelige) in Stillorgan, Co Dublin. He was selected to the Dublin minor hurling squad in 1985. He often jokes that had he not become a best chef would he not have tried his hand at professional hurling, the fastest sport in the world.

This Irish best chef still cherishes the memories of working alongside his father in the family garden, bonding time that strengthened not only his family ties, but also his affinity for the land. It was in France, at the age of seven, that Cathal Armstrong began his annual student exchange and his food curriculum for life.  Each summer he lived with the same family, the Boudains’, returning to the truffle farms, peasant food and local vineyards.  These influences instilled in Cathal Armstrong the importance of organic growing and sustainability, before they were buzzwords.

Today he honors that tradition by demanding the highest-quality ingredients from a handpicked network of suppliers revered for their wholesome products. His guiding principal: “Nature is perfect. Extract the flavor. Enhance it. Don’t take away from it.”

Cathal Armstrong is considered by both Ireland and America’s epicurean fraternity, to be one of our finest chefs, a best chef whose ability and creativity is boundless.

This impassioned toque’s significant contributions to the local food movement garnered him accolades that extend beyond his cooking, including The National Restaurant Association “Neighborhood Community Award,” Edible Chesapeake Magazine- “Local Hero Award” and The Washingtonian Magazine’s “Green Giant Award” for those who work to protect and preserve our environment and teach the virtues of green living.

The White House has taken notice of his four star intentions as well and has honored him as a “Champion of Change.”

Under President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative (, the White House features a group of Americans who continue to ‘Innovate, Educate, and Build’ throughout their respective communities. In honor of this recognition, the Office of Public Engagement hosted an event at the White House to commend Cathal Armstrong and like minded individuals who promote empowerment and inspiration.

Best chef Cathal Armstrong is a board member of Fresh Farm Markets, which operates eight farmers' markets in the Chesapeake Bay region. His devotion to the ideals of environmentalism, health and conservation has led him to lecture abroad at the request of the US State Department. He was invited by the ambassador to the Bloom festival in Ireland to “recreate” First Lady MIchelle Obama’s Garden and demonstrated to school children and attendees the joys and benefits of “growing your own.”

His own love of horticulture drove him to create an organic, worm composted garden, with a natural rain water irrigation system, behind the restaurant. Fruits from his trees, seasonal vegetables and herbs from his organic garden are harvested and incorporated into mouthwatering dishes that nourish the palate and the soul.

As a father of two young children he has dedicated himself to educating children and families about healthy eating. Unsatisfied by the nutritional quality, in schools best chef Cathal Armstrong founded Chefs as Parents™ ( a non for profit company that will partner with The Alexandria public school system to improving the school lunch system.

Chef Armstrong is a Best Mid-Atlantic Chef nominee by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, selected as both Food & Wine magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs 2006” and honored in Food & Wine magazine’s “50 Hall of Fame Best New Chefs” and Best Chef Award Winner by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington DC.

Four years after the opening of Restaurant Eve, best chef Cathal Armstrong’s Tasting Room received a four-out of four star rating by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.

National Magazines have featured best chef Cathal Armstrong’s commitment to culinary excellence and Irish “farm to table” style in prominent stories in Oprah, Food and Wine, Cookie, Parents, Southern Living & Martha Stewart. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC World News, NY Times, and The Irish Times have taken note of his culinary prowess and his dedication to ending childhood obesity.

Rave reviews continue as best chef Cathal Armstrong stretches out with complex, thoughtful cooking that knits together his Irish upbringing, his French training, and his grasp of the American culinary moment.
Cathal Armstrong can speak four languages: English, French, Spanish, and Irish.

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