2023 Chefs

Washington, DC

Featured: Thursday Private Dinner Series

The only Forbes five-star rated restaurant in the nation’s capital has a new executive chef:  Ralf Schlegel, a native of Germany with extensive experience in prestigious European kitchens, is now leading the culinary team that serves Plume restaurant, Quill lounge, and the entire Jefferson, DC hotel.

At the age of 11, Ralf Schlegel and his family fled from East Germany to the West, where their life began to prosper, and his culinary journey began. His daily chores took place after his homework, by preparing the mise-en-place for dinner in the kitchen of one of his town’s fabled restaurants and hotels run by his parents, master trained chefs and hoteliers.

Ralf excelled through Germany’s rigorous training program for chefs and, like his parents, became certified as a “Staatlich geprüfter Küchenmeister” [“kitchen master”]. His career experience includes leadership posts at a number of acclaimed German and Austrian restaurants and hotels, as well as various positions in Italy, Denmark, and Sweden. Before joining the team at The Jefferson, he spent two years as executive sous chef at a notable Washington, DC restaurant.

Philip Wood, Managing Director of The Jefferson, is delighted by this development in the kitchen. “Ralf has been an integral member of the staff since he started here in 2011 as executive sous chef. His hard work and talent have contributed to the great success of The Jefferson, and to the critical acclaim of Plume in particular. At the helm of the culinary program, his remarkable creativity will flourish, and it will be exciting to see where his vision will lead.”

That vision is evident in the menu of ‘authentic’ cuisine Schlegel is developing for Plume, based on his notion of Washington as a steakhouse town. Making use of the finest ingredients and his extensive technical expertise, he presents exquisite cuisine with the advantage of a clear international perspective. Dishes such as a Strip Steak of Prairie Bison accompanied by Corn Souffléand Baby Corn, a tiny Silver-leafedRoasted Potato, stuffed Cherry Tomatoes with the greens re-applied, and House-made Ketchup with Barbecue Spices; and Wild Salmon poached in Beeswax with Carrot Juice “gélée royale,” are enchanting versions of the familiar.

In addition to the honors garnered by Plume, The Jefferson has attracted top rankings from Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and U.S. News and World Report. As ‘the second most notable address in Washington,’ The Jefferson, DC is the capital city’s premier boutique hotel.