Peter Smith
Chef & Owner/PS 7′s

Smith “officially” began his culinary career at the Country Club of Fairfax in Virginia, at the age of 14. After three years, Smith moved to Pino’s, one of the top Italian restaurants in the area. Here, he expanded upon his experience, participating in menu planning, purchasing, preparation, catering and supervision of the kitchen staff. From Pino’s, Smith simultaneously worked at the Carlyle Grand Café restaurant in the neighborhood village of Shirlington, Virginia, while attending culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, under classically Swiss-trained Chef Francois Dionot. Following graduation, Smith took an externship at the Occidental restaurant in Washington, DC, where he met Chef Jeffrey Buben. Buben saw promise in Smith and the two formed a strong working relationship. When Buben left the Occidental in 1993 to open Vidalia restaurant, Buben invited Smith to join him. An invaluable asset to the Vidalia team, Buben named Smith Executive Chef after five years, at the age of 28. Jeffrey Buben and Vidalia received both local and national praise under Smith’s direction in the kitchen, including a James Beard Award in 1999.

Leaving the kitchen for a vacation in 2001 didn’t mean leaving the toque at home. The turn of the millennium took Chef Smith to Tibet and Nepal, where touring the country and experiencing its flavors took him to a special place at 17,000 feet. Smith tested out his culinary skills by using local products to make dinner for hikers at the Mt. Everest Base Camp.

In 2004, after 11 successful years at Vidalia, Smith left the famed southern-inspired restaurant to work on two projects: the birth of his daughter Lucy and the creation of a concept that would culminate his experiences with a modern edge. In the fall of 2006, Smith will open PS 7’s at 777 I Street, NW, in the ever-growing downtown Penn Quarter area of Washington, DC.

“I appreciate taking the most unusual of pairings visually and creating them mentally,” says Smith. “It often turns into the most delicious of flavor combinations.” Turning thought into food, Smith will present his version of Contemporary Modern Cuisine, with a whimsical touch. Serving mostly small plates and using farm-direct produce, highlights include the Torchon of Lobster with exotic melon, truffle gelée and roe wafer and Baby Carrot Terrine with horseradish foam, Muscat vinaigrette and red orach.

A fan of creating dishes in trios, examples include the Trio of Veal with barbequed ribs with molasses thyme veal jus, sautéed loin with wilted baby chard and braised breast with apricot and thyme jus. Another creation is Octopus Three Ways braised with red Thai curry, ceviche with yuzu, sake and red Chile granite and torchon with cilantro cucumber salad.

It comes down to innocence and adventure for this young diversified talent. At PS 7’s, Smith hopes to create a restaurant where he can express his creativity and flair for taking one ingredient and extrapolating as much from it as possible. Guests will experience Smith’s imagination with Lobster and Hen of the Woods mushrooms and unexpected ingredients like popcorn. In turn, Smith will take his experiences both past and present and turn them into a flavorful work of culinary history in DC.

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