The last two years have been very good to chef Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar. Following a whirlwind romance, she and then-girlfriend Tina McDaniel purchased a house together in Chevy Chase. They married last spring and on November 30 welcomed their newborn daughter, Hazel, who joins half-brother Hayden, Leeds’s 16-year-old son.
At home, Leeds and McDaniel, a marketing consultant, share cooking duties. “Tina is not intimidated by cooking for a chef,” Leeds remarks. “She’s a pescetarian, so we eat a lot of fish and vegetables.” On the stove during our photo shoot: a colorful fall vegetable medley.
For Leeds, the kitchen was one of the home’s draws. “I like the openness,” she says. “It’s the perfect size kitchen. You don’t want to have to make a lot of movements when you cook. Everything is within arm’s reach.”
Indeed, the kitchen gets a workout, as the couple enjoys entertaining around an adjacent farmhouse table that seats 12. Recent dinner-party menus featured squid ink paella with shrimp, calamari, scallops, clams and mussels; and a bouillabaisse of lobster and shrimp in saffron-tomato broth. “I tend to make too much food when I’m cooking at home because I’m used to making such large batches,” Leeds laughs. “There’s always leftovers.”
Named for her late father, the Hank’s brand includes Hank’s Oyster Bar—with locations in Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill and Old Town Alexandria. During the past year, Leeds launched Hank’s Pasta Bar, also in Old Town, and Hank’s Cocktail Bar, a casual outpost in DC’s Petworth neighborhood serving burgers and small bites. Another Hank’s Oyster Bar will open in The Wharf on Maine Avenue in 2017.
ALWAYS ON HAND: “Potatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, pasta, tomatoes, prosciutto, lots of cheeses.”
MUST HAVES: “Good knives are key. Wooden spoons, a zester and a garlic press. And I have to have a couple of copper pots.”
DINNER AFTER HOURS: “A baked potato with all the toppings—broccoli, cheese, tofu, sausage. We have Baked Potato Night once a week.”