Inside the Kitchen at Project 2312
Chef Will Artley gives Del Ray Patch an inside look at his pop-up restaurant.
Prior to each seating at Project 2312, chef Will Artley scribbles what he calls a “haiku” on a piece of paper and posts it above his line.
It’s more slogan than traditional Japanese poetry, but it sets the tone before Artley and his staff fall into frenzied action preparing orders.
On Wednesday night, the haiku for the first seating is “Have fun. Make it nice.” For the evening’s second half, it’s “You have 1 chance this week… Make it happen.”
The second message is a reference to Project 2312’s limited run. The restaurant, which has produced a new menu every other night, will wrap up its seven-day engagement at the Pork Barrel BBQ complex on Sunday night. The short run and limited availability have made Artley’s pop-up a huge draw for Del Ray neighbors and D.C.-area foodies alike. Reservations were gobbled up so quickly that late-night seatings were added on Friday and Saturday nights to meet the high demand.
I was traveling overseas when Artley announced the dates for Project 2312. I thought I was going to miss the fun, but the chef generously took me inside his kitchen for an inside look (See the attached photos).
My only real venture into the culinary world prior to Wednesday was a short stint 15 years ago folding napkins and washing dishes at my Uncle Jimmy’s restaurant in sleepy Vicksburg, Miss.
Needless to say, things proved a little more hectic on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Artley rapidly tossed out requests for everything from table service to more grits and veggie plates. His staff proved quick and confident, but snafus do emerge in any time-crunch situation.
“We’re about to get rocked,” Artley said between seatings. “My nerves are going to be shot at the end of the week. It goes from ‘Gah!’ to ‘OK, we’re cool’ and back again pretty quick.”
That’s not to say Artley and company don’t have a good time whipping up everything from meatball dishes to salmon and rockfish plates.
The jokes flew about as quickly as the orders came in on Wednesday. At one point, Artley and his crew broke into an impromptu dance and sing-along to Salt-n-Pepa’s 1987 hit “Push It.”
“There’s always time to dance,” Artley said.
“And wash dishes,” a member of his kitchen staff added.
Have you eaten at Project 2312? What did you have? Tell us in the comments.