- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

He studied medicine, then literature. But in the end, Christopher Bradley decided on a career doing what he loved — cooking.

As the new executive chef of Ardeo and Bardeo, two trendy “new-American” restaurants on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, Mr. Bradley is responsible for designing menus and ensuring the quality of the food. And, of course, like any good chef, he does his fair share of the cooking.

Mr. Bradley developed an interest in cooking at an early age, thanks to his mother’s large extended family.

“When we got together, it was always around the table,” he said.

Restaurant owner Ashok Bajaj started Ardeo in 1998 as an alternative to the downtown restaurant scene. He complimented Mr. Bradley on his work ethic and his impressive resume.

“We wanted to bring someone who will continue this style of cooking but also enhance it,” Mr. Bajaj said, referring to Ardeo’s menu of modern American cuisine, which includes dishes that run the gamut from $6 to $22.

Mr. Bradley came to Ardeo and Bardeo from Restaurant Saul in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, where he worked as executive sous chef for eight months. He also worked at Oznot’s Dish in Brooklyn as well as Cafe Boulud and Aureole, both in New York City, his home for the past six years.

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a scholarship to study medicine, Mr. Bradley began cooking as a way to earn some extra cash. After two years of studying medicine, he decided to pursue literature instead and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy in 1994. After graduating, he decided to turn his passion for cooking into a career.

There “wasn’t anything to do with the degree,” he said.

Mr. Bradley soon became head chef at Marketplace restaurant in Asheville, N.C. After six years of cooking in North Carolina, he decided to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.

“I wasn’t learning anymore because there wasn’t anyone around to teach me,” he said. “I thought I’d finalize my training by going to culinary school.”

He received an associate’s degree in culinary arts in 2001 after completing a year of classes and 18 months of apprenticeship in New York restaurants.

During his career, Mr. Bradley has cooked for numerous celebrities, including actors Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, actress Michelle Williams and TV reporter Barbara Walters.

For now, Mr. Bradley’s focus is on his customers at Ardeo and Bardeo and his newly hired pastry chef, Susan Kolman. “I just want to make people happy,” he said.

Mr. Bradley is 34 and lives in the District.

— Walter Frick

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