2019 Chefs

Jamie Leeds

Hank’s Oyster Bar

Washington, DC

Featured: Saturday, March 9th at the Grand Tasting

A prominent restaurateur and recognized chef, Jamie Leeds has a notable presence in the Washington, DC. community. From “Rising Star Chef” in 2003 to a nomination by RAMMY for “Restaurateur of the Year” in 2016, 2017, and 2018, Leeds has prospered by embracing employees as family, welcoming guests as neighbors, providing great food, and turning meals into memories. With over 35 years of inspiring culinary experience in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC, Leeds continues to break into new frontiers and drive exploration in the culinary industry. A self-taught chef, she first started cooking with her father, Hank, and has dedicated her restaurants to his memory. Leeds began her career in New York City in the early 80’s at the famed Union Square Cafe with owner, Danny Meyer, working her way up through the stations from potato peeler to Sous Chef. With encouragement from Danny Myers, Leeds moved to France in 1991 and cooked there for a year to hone her skills, returning to the states to work for Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago. After a few years of opening restaurants as a consultant, Leeds embraced the opportunity to bring a unique concept to Washington D.C. and in May 2005, Leeds opened her first Hank’s Oyster Bar, serving what she termed “Urban Beach Food.” Since its’ opening, Hank’s Oyster Bar has become a DC institution, receiving praise from national and local publications, such as bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Southern Living, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, DC Magazine, and many more. The second location on King Street in Old Town Alexandria opened in 2007, the third on Capitol Hill near Eastern Market in 2012, and the fourth and largest on the
Wharf in October 2017. In 2016, Leeds expanded the Hank’s brand with the additions of Hank’s Pasta Bar and Hank’s Cocktail Bar with the convivial atmosphere and boundary-pushing ethos in tow. Additionally, Leeds is the former President of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), which proudly empowers young women in the industry by providing resources, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities. She learned firsthand how important having strong female support can be and is hopeful that the industry is working toward a world where encouraging support becomes a standard for all young women. In 2003, Leeds was nominated for “Rising Culinary Star” from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s Capital Restaurant & Hospitality Awards and was also named a “Rising Star Chef” by Starchefs.com for Washington, D.C.’s awards program, which selected only seven chefs throughout the area for the coveted recognition. In 2006, her new restaurant Hank’s Oyster Bar was nominated for a RAMMY for “Best New Restaurant” by the Restaurant Association of Washington and in 2008 and 2014, Hank’s won the coveted and publicly voted RAMMY for “Best Neighborhood Restaurant”. In 2012, Hank’s Oyster Bar was nominated again by Restaurant Association of Washington for “Best Casual Restaurant”. After a lifetime of accomplishments, Jamie credits her proudest career moment as “walking into the restaurants and everyone wanting to give me a hug.” A proponent of the power of community,  Jamie  has proudly built a warm and hospitable empire that welcomes all. When not splitting her time between the five Hank’s locations, Jamie enjoys spending time with her wife, Tina, and children, two-year-old Hazel and fifteen year-old Hayden, both of whom were also name after her father Hank. As avid travelers, Jamie and Tina love visiting the Mediterranean coasts of France, Spain, and Italy for the abundance of incredible food and easy ocean access–two of Jamie’s favorite things and a nostalgic nod to her year stage in France. The family of four currently resides in North Chevy Chase, MD.