Marcel’s, the haute French flagship restaurant regularly tops the best-of lists in the nation’s capital and currently holds the coveted top spot on Zagat’s Best Restaurant list for the Washington, DC / Baltimore, MD area. Its charming ‘old French’ interior and impeccable service puts diners instantly at ease.
Head Chef / Proprietor Chef Robert Wiedmaier rose from the ranks of dishwasher to earn a Michelin star and own and operate 11 restaurants in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Atlantic City. He grew up in Brussels, Belgium, the son of a Holocaust survivor who spent eight months of the war hiding in a butcher shop in the south of France. A dyslexic, Wiedmaier gravitated to the kitchen at an early age, beginning his working life at 14. He later attended culinary school in The Netherlands, apprenticing at the Thermidor, a two-star Michelin restaurant in Holland. It was not long after that he found his way to the kitchen of the two-Michelin star Eddie Van Maele in Brussels. The experience was a revelation for the young chef, and gave him a clear vision for his future.
In 1986, chef Wiedmaier accepted the job of saucier at Le Chardon d’Or at The Morrison House, in Alexandria, Va., before joining the brigade at Le Pavillion, helping to create the finest nouvelle cuisine in Washington, D.C. A year later he was named sous chef at Aux Beaux Champs, in the Four Seasons, under the direction of chef Douglass McNeill. By 1994, chef Wiedmaier was ready to strike out on his own. He opened Café on M at The Grand Hotel, where he established his signature Franco-Flemish style, before taking over at the Watergate Hotel, replacing the legendary Jean-Louis Palladin.
In 1999, Wiedmaier opened the contemporary, European, Marcel’s. Sumptous in its elegance, with a refined and exacting cuisine that never goes out of fashion, the restaurant has not only become his flagship, but is also consistently ranked among the city’s best by The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, and the readers of Open Table. It has earned numerous awards from Wine Spectator and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington RAMMY Awards, and its service and wine program has also received multiple James Beard nominations. Chef Wiedmaier waited seven years to open his second restaurant, Brasserie Beck, also in Washington, D.C. Conceived as a relaxed and casual restaurant where diners could go for mussels, stews, and braises – along with one of the country’s best Belgian beer lists – the restaurant recently celebrated its 11th birthday.
In 2009, Wiedmaier partnered with Kimpton Hotels’ Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, Va., opening two adjacent establishments: Brabo and The Brabo Tasting Room. It was a successful, eight year run, full of honors and awards, after which the chef amicably moved on to concentrate on other opportunities. The next year saw the launch of Mussel Bar & Grille in Bethesda, Md. The restaurant, a hearty celebration of pub grub, Belgian-style, has since grown to include locations in Arlington, Va., and Baltimore, Md. In November 2012, chef Wiedmaier opened Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda, serving a light, spice-accented cuisine influenced by the 23 countries surrounding the Mediterranean. A passionate lover of jazz, blues, and roots rock, the chef made his first foray into the music business in 2015 with a club, Villain & Saint in Bethesda. That same year saw the opening, as well, of Lock 72 in Potomac, Md.
The chef’s newest venture, Siren, which opened in the Fall of 2017 at The Darcy hotel near Logan Circle, has enjoyed a brilliant debut. A seafood emporium with a dazzling fish bar, it received a Michelin star in 2018, as well as rave reviews in The Washington Post and The Washingtonian. Chef Wiedmaier has been honored and awarded numerous times for his talent and service. In 2009, he was named Washington’s Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2012, the U.S. State Department and James Beard Foundation tapped him for its Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative. That same year he was also inducted into The Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mashstaff, a century old brewer’s guild in Brussels. In 2014, he was brought in as the chef of honor to cook for the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. at the new London embassy. He has even had a beer brewed and named exclusively for him, the double blonde ale Antigoon. He was featured on the James Beard Award-winning program, Chefs A ‘Field, on PBS, and is a proud member of the Wild Alaska Seafood Congress of Conscious Chefs. Last year he launched a consulting agency, Primal Cut Consulting, a full-service operation whose mission is to think boldly and fearlessly about the many complex issues facing the industry.
Chef Wiemaier lives with his wife, Polly, in Kensington, with his teenage son, Beck. His other son, Marcel, is away at college.