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Posted at 4:22 PM ET, 05/ 5/2009

Dancing With A (Food) Star

By Tom Sietsema

Reality TV's "Hell's Kitchen" season three winner Rahman "Rock" Harper, has been hired away from Next Door on U Street to be the new executive chef at the Carlyle Club, the art deco-style restaurant that serves live music with its dinner menu.

A native of Alexandria, Harper will be the third chef in the life of the Carlyle, which opened in October 2007. Owner Brennan Reilly says that up until now, the kitchen of the 8,000 square foot dining room, bar and dance floor "wasn't at the same level as the rest of the place." By bringing on Harper, 32, the restaurateur hopes the Carlyle Club "will be that place that doesn't exist anymore" -- the romantic supper club of yesteryear.

Harper, who was hired at the popular Ben's Chili Bowl sibling in December, says Next Door is "awesome" and business is "going great," but he wants to do more than fancy bar food. "The Carlyle gives me a better venue to showcase ... what I can do," he says.

The chef, who begins his new gig later this week, hasn't had time to write a new menu, but his ideas include foie gras sliders on brioche with pineapple chutney, and seared scallops tricked out with sweet corn puree, bacon and a truffle vinaigrette.

For his part, Reilly has broadened the musical menu at the Carlyle Club to include groups that play '50s and '60s rock as well as jazz and big band scores.

Next Door is currently looking at internal staff to fill Harper's role. No decision on a replacement has been named.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | May 5, 2009; 4:22 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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