25 hours With a Chef: RJ Cooper

We tracked the 45-year-old’s moves on one of the five days of the year when he’s not in his D.C. restaurant, Rogue 24.

RJ Cooper
Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman.

Since the summer of 2012, NoVA has been waiting for Chef RJ Cooper’s Gypsy Soul—a restaurant he describes as “Southern-ground, modern interpretations of regional cooking”—to open in the Mosaic District. The two-floor restaurant (the roof deck hosts a wood hearth) was supposed to open in 2013, but is now scheduled for late spring.

We tracked the 45-year-old’s moves on one of the five days of the year when he’s not in his D.C. restaurant, Rogue 24.

Instead, Cooper shuttled between a photo shoot, a design meeting and an adult sleepover in Maryland with his chef-hunter friends for the opening day of goose season.—Stefanie Gans


11:56 P.m.
After cocktails
with the Noma* boys.

*Chefs from the number two ranked restaurant in the world—Noma in Copenhagen—drank with Cooper in Barmini in Washington, D.C.


In 2007 Cooper won a James Beard Foundation Award, the highest honor in the restaurant industry, for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic at Vidalia (D.C.).

7:43 a.m.
No coffee yet big day today.

Off to drive girls to school rockin out to TS.

On the agenda today: Super H run for beef tendons and other randoms.

Taylor Swift, Life By Text
Photo courtesy of Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.com

9:56 a.m.

Oops forgot about photo shoot at Rogue.

rockin out to widespread panic.

1:36 P.m.
Q: What’s your favorite part about starting a new

A: Design and philosophies


3:30 P.m.


The building is going hard at Mosaic. Phase two.

4:10 P.m.
Having oysters as a
mid day snack before
I look at Gypsy.

Get to space— doors are locked.

4:14 P.m.
My wife just asked me to pick up twins from school. Another wrench today.
For this past summer’s “Fit for Hope Challenge” sponsored by the America Cancer Society, 16 local chefs competed against each other to lose weight. Cooper lost 52 pounds and still attends Crossfit 5 times a week.

4:17 P.m.

Hipster bike in the urban suburban town.

Q: Think suburbs will be cool enough for Gypsy soul?

A: It will be epic

The Hunters
Centreville, MD

David Guas, Bayou Bakery




Robert Wiedmaier, Brabo, Mussel Bar



Tim Sughrue, Congressional Seafood

10:53 P.m.
We All Love when someone cooks for us.





(From left) Lobster and halibut made by Sughrue’s daughter.

11:37 P.m.

Talking about cuttlefish. drinking 20 yr old pappy [van winkle bourbon]. chilling outside.

Ready for a hunt. Now into pimento cheese from Bayou Bakery.


Originally from
and moved here in 1999.

1:19 A.m.

Outside rain falling on us, talking shit and drinking bourbon, smoking cigars

Q: Topics? Kitchens? Women? Kids? Booze? Hunting?
Salted caramel?

A: Bird migration saving the bay with oysters.


Edited for style and readability.
Darn auto-correct.

(February 2014)