In her position as Chef de Cuisine at Graffiato, Top Chef star Mike Isabella’s hugely popular Penn Quarter restaurant, Meek-Bradley has become one of the highest profile female chefs in D.C. – a city that needs more women in top kitchen positions. In 2013, Meek-Bradley’s challenge will be to keep Graffiato firing on all cylinders as Isabella turns his focus to his new concepts, G and Kapnos, which will open later this year. To sustain the buzz and solidify her imprint on the Graffiato kitchen, Meek-Bradley is kicking off a new special events program with an upcoming beer dinner.
What D.C. chef, past or present, has been an inspiration for you? Why?
"I really love what Nora Pouillon has done at Restaurant Nora. She is an amazing woman. I’m from Northern California and I worked at a certified organic restaurant out there, and we were the second restaurant in the country to get that certification after her. Cathal Armstrong is also amazing. He does a really great job utilizing local ingredients. He just makes beautiful food."
If you had to pick a last meal for yourself from a D.C. restaurant, what would it be?
"I would choose Rasika. I love it. The crispy spinach is amazing. All of their naan and breads are great. I also get the green chicken curry every time I go."
What’s the most hilarious or harrowing kitchen disaster you’ve experienced?
"I do tend to be clumsy at times. Mike was here and having a very important meeting at a downstairs table near the kitchen, right when he was about to sign the deal to open Kapnos. We’re all trying to make everything look extra-fantastic. I was making spiced pistachios from a 25-pound box of pistachios; I opened it with a knife and walked away. The pistachios, in a steady stream, poured out all over the place — everywhere. He looked at me and turned away and shook his head."
Who isn’t on this list that we should have included?
"Shannon Overmiller, executive chef at The Majestic, is great."
What dish of yours best exemplifies your approach as a chef?
"We have a robiolo cheese agnolotti on the menu. I love making fresh pasta — it’s very meditative. For that dish, we use chicken jus, bread crumbs, and pickled onions. It’s like macaroni and cheese, but at a different level. I like to think of what I really want to eat, and then make it more unique."
If you hadn't been a chef, what profession would you have chosen?
"I think I wanted to do something with the law. I always thought about being a lawyer or being in international affairs. I can be a bit argumentative, so I kind of enjoy that, and I also wanted to travel."