Chef Jeff Tunks has worked in restaurants all around the country, from Dallas to Atlanta to San Diego to New Orleans. In Washington, D.C., he was the chef at Notte Luna, The River Club, and The Jefferson Hotel before becoming a co-proprietor of Passion Food Hospitality. The hospitality group now owns nearly ten restaurants, including the famous Burger Tap & Shake and District Commons.
Tunks has always been enamored with the hospitality industry and took a bold move of dropping out of high school to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. There, Tunks studied Culinary Arts and received the Frances L. Roth Award for outstanding performance.
The chef is truly a world traveler and draws inspiration from his visits to various cities across the globe. He sees traveling as “a great way to expand culinary and cultural horizons.” He had a hard time choosing a favorite city, but said that “Florence is difficult to top.” He wishes to travel to Australia and explore the diverse culture and food scene the country has to offer. If he could possess any talent, Tunks says he wishes he could speak multiple languages so that he could better communicate with people in different countries.
Tunks is shocked about how the DC food scene has “absolutely exploded.” He mentioned that he wishes he had more time to explore since there are so many restaurants popping up all over the city. Tunks likes to joke that “eating out has become a young person’s sport.” He himself has done some exploring and gave us his favorite dishes in the city:
- Marumen for Ramen and Pork Buns
- Nanjing Bistro for authentic and regional spicy Chinese
- Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier for fine dining and special occasions
- Al Dente for classic Italian fare
- El Sol for killer Mexican cuisine
We asked the chef some fun foodie questions to conclude the interview…
What is your favorite ingredient?
Local Heirloom Tomatoes – so fresh in the summer!
Favorite ice cream flavor?
What’s one food that you hate?
I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but I don’t love Deviled Eggs.
What is your last meal on earth?
My last meal on Earth would be Wooden Bowl Caesar Salad to start, a Dry Aged Prime Ribeye for my main with a side of Creamed Spinach, and a Ketel One Martini to wash it all down!
What is your favorite item on your menu?