With his unwavering passion for creating exceptional dining experiences in Washington DC, restaurant owner and Chef Michael Friedman has made his mark. Like many young chefs these days, Friedman’s culinary career developed out of sheer happenstance.
The Westfield, NJ native Friedman graduated from Boston University’s College of Communications before tackling his first position in a professional kitchen. He landed a job as a prep cook with a bustling French bistro, Mon Ami Gabi and from then on, he knew a cook’s life was for him. Friedman spent three years with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You group, rising to sous chef in just eight months before enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
“I’m a native New Yorker who fell in love with Italian food at a young age hanging out in pizza and pasta joints around town,” Friedman noted. “I grew up in a household where the dinner table served as a central connection to the family, and I always cherished that aspect of my upbringing. After graduating college, I worked in the private sector but soon changed tracks and pursued a career in professional cooking. I love being a chef because I work with amazing people like my teams at all of our restaurants!”
Chef Michael Friedman used his time wisely while in school, staging at notable restaurants in his off time, including Los Angeles’ Lucques and Morimoto in New York. At Danny Meyer’s The Modern in The Museum of Modern Art, he learned the true meaning of professionalism in the kitchen, and was taught to cook at a very high level with top-notch ingredients. Graduating at the top of his CIA class, he began working for famed Spanish Chef Jose Andres at his powerhouse Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, Zaytinya.
After two years as a chef with Chef Andres, Friedman left his mentor to travel the world. Eating through Italy, Greece, Turkey and Northern Africa, Friedman picked up the interesting and exciting nuances of each country. He headed back to the US and spent time staging in some influential kitchens, including San Francisco’s Incanto, Philadelphia’s Vetri and New York’s Scarpetta.
Friedman returned to DC as Chef de Cuisine of Proof, a wine-centric restaurant specializing in local, seasonal fare. Under the tutelage of Executive Chef Haidar Karoum, Friedman learned to hone his craft and simplify his style to let the ingredients shine.
At his first solo venture, Friedman continues to offer his guests at The Red Hen a focused selection of Italian-influenced dishes, interpreted with Mid-Atlantic ingredients – his version of modern comfort food. In The Red Hen’s opening year, it garnered two “RAMMY” awards from The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, including Best New Restaurant and Rising Culinary Star, and Friedman was selected as one of the People’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine. The Red Hen also won the 2013 “Restaurant of the Year” award from Eater DC and was awarded three star reviews from both The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine.
In 2016 he opened All-Purpose Shaw – serving antipasti, classic Italian American dishes and deck oven-fired pizzas in the heart of downtown D.C. As a New Jersey native, All-Purpose became a love letter to Chef Michael Friedman’s youth. Shortly after its opening, All-Purpose was named D.C.’s top restaurant by the Washington Post.
With a portfolio of eateries that now includes: The Red Hen, Aventino, All Purpose Shaw, All Purpose Capitol Riverfront, and AP Pizza Shop, Friedman understands the importance off being able to consistently source the highest quality ingredients. “I’ve been working with The Chefs’ Warehouse for almost twenty years. They are an industry leader in their products, service, and continued support to our amazing industry! A key to great pizza is the special flour we found at the The Chefs’ Warehouse and with that we are able to create our award-winning pizza dough at All Purpose!”
In 2017, Chef Michael Friedman was recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist. Following the success of the original All-Purpose, Friedman opened up All-Purpose Capitol Riverfront on the Anacostia River in 2018. The new location includes favorites from the Shaw location and new dishes inspired by the Eastern U.S. and Amalfi Coastlines.