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Posted at 5:56 PM ET, 02/11/2010

Gaylord National snares Chef Michael Harr

By Tom Sietsema

In a sign that it wants to draw more of a food crowd, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just tapped Michael Harr to take over its two upscale restaurants, the sprawling, seafood-themed Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine and the meatier Old Hickory Steakhouse.

The new executive chef's name should be familiar to local restaurant followers. Harr cooked at the tony Butterfield 9 in downtown Washington for 3 1/2 years before the contemporary American dining room closed in 2008. More recently, he was the executive corporate chef for Celebrity Cruises, based in Miami. There, Harr was responsible for developing menu concepts for the ocean liner's new Equinox and Solstice vessels.

"We've always been serious about our food and beverage offerings at Gaylord National, and we think Michael can take us to that next level," Robert Stanfield, the vice president of food and beverage for the complex, says via e-mail. "For Moon Bay, we are looking to invoke an element of surprise," both in quality and delivery. Old Hickory will continue to serve grilled beef, says his recruit, but its brand will expand to include tableside service and possibly game meats such as elk, ostrich and pigeon. (And yes, he's looking for a few good underlings to help him out.)

Harr, who also worked at the late Maestro and has a home in Alexandria, knows he has a challenge ahead of him: "Getting people to see National Harbor as a culinary destination." He also wants us to know the resort isn't nearly the Siberia some folks make it out to be. In his Butterfield 9 days, says the chef, his commute was 20 minutes; now, it's half that.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | February 11, 2010; 5:56 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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