Table Talk: Chesapeake renovations moving forward

Renovations are under way at the Chesapeake Restaurant building in Charles Street.
Renovations are under way at the Chesapeake Restaurant building in Charles Street. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun)

The redevelopment of the old Chesapeake Restaurant space is moving forward with a new team after restaurateur Qayum Karzai left the project in July.

At the time, developer Ernst Valery said he was looking for a team to run the project's restaurant component, which will occupy the ground level of the historic property.

Valery has found that team, and he's on it.

The husband-and-wife team behind Philadelphia's Milk & Honey Market, Mauro Daigle and Annie Baum-Stein will join Valery and his wife, Dana, to complete the project.

This isn't first collaboration for the couples; they worked together to develop a Milk & Honey Market in Baltimore.

Daigle and Baum-Stein are involved in several food businesses in Philadelphia including Roost, an upscale rotisserie chicken eatery in West Philadelphia.

Valery has promised to release more information about the project soon. No word on whether the Chesapeake's first floor would include another version of Roost or a Milk & Honey-like food market.

Renovations are under way to the ground floor and exterior of the former Chesapeake Restaurant. This first phase of renovations must be completed by next May, according to terms laid out in a land disposition agreement between the developers and the city of Baltimore. When the first floor is finished, the developers will start on the upper floors of the building, where offices and studios are planned.

Chesapeake, the bay In an innovative weeklong dining promotion, Maryland seafood is being featured on the menus of restaurants stretching from Philadelphia to Northern Virginia.

From the Bay, For the Bay: Dine Out, which continues through Sunday, was conceived and is being managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries service.

"We are incredibly pleased by the enthusiasm surrounding our Dine Out celebration," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "Restaurants from across the Mid-Atlantic have joined this effort to promote our Maryland seafood, and that speaks volumes about the quality and variety that we have to offer. By promoting the bounty of the bay and encouraging Marylanders to buy local, this program supports local economies and jobs among watermen, seafood wholesalers and retailers, and the restaurant industry."

Participating restaurants in From the Bay, For the Bay: Dine Out, will donate $1 for every Maryland seafood dinner they sell to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to replenish the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population.

A list of the 200 participating restaurants is available on the From the Bay, For the Bay website (www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fromthebay).

For Mount Washington Tavern owner Ron Frisch, the promotion was a natural. "We're already involved with the Oyster Recovery Partnership's Shell Recycling Alliance," Frisch said. "We serve a lot of oysters here; for this week, we're running a special menu of grilled, fried and raw oysters."

"We were looking for a way to reconnect chefs to the local watermen," says Steve Vilnit of the fisheries service, "and we tried to make it easy for them to participate." Vilnit said that the proceeds from the promotion are sure to have an impact. "A dollar goes a long way. A dollar is a hundred oysters back in the bay."

The oyster partnership's executive director, Stephan Abel, says the timing of the dining promotion, one day before the reopening of the commercial striped bass hook-and-line harvest, is no accident. "The cool thing about this program is how it all ties together," Abel said. "Everybody gets to enjoy fresh, locally caught seafood."

Kudos for Wolf The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences has awarded its International Five Star Diamond Chefs Award to Cindy Wolf. The organization's president, Joseph Cinque, presented Wolf the award in a ceremony Monday at Charleston, her celebrated Harbor East restaurant.

The academy describes its chef award, which has been given to chefs the likes of Alain Ducasse, Ferran Adria and Thomas Keller, as "the most prestigious emblem of achievement and true quality in the hospitality and luxury service industries worldwide."


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