Today we’d like to introduce you to Damian Brown.
In early 2018 Chef Damian left his post as executive chef at a popular DC restaurant to pursue his own culinary vision with his own concept. He started with a brunch pop-up in Camp Springs Maryland, a take-out only brunch concept boasting Chef Damian’s signature “no rules” selections such as Henny Mambo Fried Chicken and Jerk Crab and Shrimp Pasta… After just weeks of opening lines began to form around the corner and by the end of its tenure, Chef Damian’s Uncaged Chefs brunch pop-up was serving several hundred customers a day… Just under a year later, Chef Damian opened his first Uncaged Chefs brink ad mortar location at Savor Food Hall in Brentwood to an anticipatory audience of fans. Since Day one, The Uncaged Chefs at Savor Food Hall saw massive crowds willing to wait however long it took for a taste of The Uncaged Chefs’ signature dishes.
Just months into residency at Savor Food Hall. and just before the COVID 19 pandemic, Chef Damian was to embark on yet another expansion to a 2nd location in District Heights Maryland which is still in the works for when social distancing guidelines are lifted. In the meantime, Chef Damian has adapted to the circumstances of the pandemic. From the beginning, he was intent on doing whatever it took to not fire any of his employees. Instead, he quickly implemented delivery as a part of the Uncaged Chefs business model and not only kept all his employees but created opportunities for even more out-of-work members of the hospitality industry. He still plans to open his second location in District Heights once social distancing guidelines are lifted.
Has it been a smooth road?
The major struggle Chef Damian encountered before launching the Uncaged Chefs Brand was the lack in freedom to create the dishes and menus he wanted. This led to the tag line for The Uncaged Chefs “No Rules, Just Good Food.”
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Uncaged Chefs story. Tell us more about the business.
Chef Damian Brown, a native of Capitol Heights, Maryland, is the executive chef and founder of The Uncaged Chefs. At 30 years of age he has been quickly rising through some of D.C.’s best kitchens, including Vidalia and Blue Duck Tavern before launching a Sunday brunch, carry-out, pop-up in early 2019 which grew to serve hundreds of customers every Sunday and recently opening his first concept; The Uncaged Chef, in DC’s first Black Owned Food Incubator; Savor at 3807. Chef Damian has created a name for himself throughout the DC area with his culinary creativity and “no rules” approach to cooking. His innovative and unique approach in the kitchen is what has set him apart from his peers. His balance of fine dining with urban, African American classics have created his niche in the today’s Food and Restaurant scene.
He thrives on inventing new, out of the box dishes that showcase his passion and unique culinary skills. Dishes like Henny and coke braised short ribs and hot Cheeto mac and cheese have garnered him a lot of attention. Freestyle cooking is how Damian describes his cooking technique, but he also incorporates culinary technique and his fine dining background into many of his dishes.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We are going to need to come together as the hospitality industry to ensure our brothers and sisters across the nation end up on the other side of this pandemic as strong as ever.
Gabriel Scindian (black and photo + Mural)
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Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that The Uncaged Chefs is expanding to the Fast Eddie’s location in Camp Springs, Maryland, not the former Fast Eddie’s space on K Street NW in D.C.
“Our rule is there’s no rules,” says Damian Brown. The chef behind the line-drawing weekend brunch pop-up, The Uncaged Chefs, serves everything from Cajun crab fries and fried chicken over sweet potato pie waffles to butter pecan French toast and snicker doodle banana pudding.
Brown has been running the pop-up out of Rosebuds BBQ in Capitol Heights, Maryland, but starting August 18, The Uncaged Chefs will also pop-up inside the Fast Eddie’s location in Camp Springs, Maryland. Both events will operate simultaneously from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Brown had the idea for The Uncaged Chefs after leaving a D.C. restaurant job that he says was stifling his creativity. “The owners were trying to put me in a box in terms of being creative,” he says. His solution was to launch a Sunday and Monday night competition that pitted bartenders and servers against the chef to see if anyone else had cooking chops. “Four competitors would have to make a dish like chicken and waffles or sliders then we’d sell it to customers for $15. Customers would have to vote on who wins.”
The chef enjoyed putting twists on familiar comfort foods so much that he created The Uncaged Chefs. While he won’t name the restaurant where the competitions took place, Brown has worked in fine dining kitchens at Blue Duck Tavern, Fiola Mare, Occidental, and Vidalia (now closed). He recently left restaurants to cook for “basketball players, rappers, and producers,” Brown says. “I stopped doing that full time in February and started doing my pop-ups. What they paid me in a month I doubled it in a day at The Uncaged Chefs.”
He says about 200 people visit Rosebuds BBQ on Sundays. “Literally 98 percent of my business is from Instagram,” Brown adds. Rosebuds BBQ only offers take-out, but diners will be able to sit down to brunch at Fast Eddie’s, possibly with live music.
Brown, who often wears a half-mask that covers his mouth, says his ultimate goal is to open his own restaurant. “This field is not for everybody,” he says. “You have to be a pleaser. It’s all about making everybody else happy even though we take the stress and stuff you don’t see back in the kitchen. We just push out good food.”
The Uncaged Chefs at Fast Eddie’s,4801 Allentown Road, Camp Springs; theuncagedchefs.com
The Uncaged Chefs at Rosebuds BBQ, 5915 Central Ave., Capitol Heights; theuncagedchefs.com
More from WCP
The Uncaged Chefs
6027 Marlboro Pike, District Heights
accepts credit cards
accepts apple pay
limited vegetarian options
good for groups
good for brunch, dinner
street parking, private lot parking
Reviews for The Uncaged Chefs
|Tuesday||11AM - 8PM|
|Wednesday||11AM - 8PM|
|Thursday||11AM - 8PM|
|Friday||11AM - 8PM|
|Saturday||11AM - 8PM|
|Sunday||11AM - 8PM|
Hours or services may differ due to COVID-19. Please contact the business directly to verify hours and availability.
Additional Dining Info
Credit Cards Accepted
Good for Kids
$$ - Cheap Eats (Under $10)
$$ - Moderate ($11-$25)
$$$ - Expensive ($25-$50)
$$$$ - Very Pricey (Over $50)
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Top Reviews of The Uncaged Chefs
3.5 stars - Based on 4 reviews
08/16/2021 - MenuPix User
04/08/2021 - MenuPix User
03/12/2021 - MenuPix User
Tried chicken and fries...chicken was fried to long not burnt but hard to bite....fries taste good!...
10/10/2020 - MenuPix User
Chefs maryland uncaged
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