Jeremiah Langhorne

The hot new trend in hip restaurants these days is cooking with fire. And we're not talking about gas: we're talking about putting a nice thick steak right on the hot coals from a roaring wood fire.

Even our pre-historic ancestors who invented this method probably wouldn't advocate doing it right on the floor of your cave, however — not in this day and age. Not when your floor itself is probably made with wood. And not when you have available to you the finest of modern hearth materials — in this case, concrete.

The Washington Post has been following the progress of Jeremiah Langhorne, a chef who honed his chops in Charleston, South Carolina, and is now setting up a new restaurant in Washington called the Dabney (see: "Meet Jeremiah Langhorne: A family gathers around the hearth," by Tim Carman). In Langhorne's case, this amounts to quite a bit more than dropping in some shiny appliances. On the day the Post reporter and photographer visit, the Post reports, "Workers with Langhorne Concrete — the business has been part of the Langhorne family for generations — are here on a hot July afternoon to finish pouring the walls for the kitchen hearth, an open-flame cooking pit that will be the heart and soul of the Dabney."

Langhorne and his crew — the restaurant crew, that is — will be close enough to live flame that they'll need to be careful if they want to keep their eyebrows.  "It's the most hands-on form of cooking that you can possibly get," Langhorne told the Post. "There's no set-it-and-forget it kind of scenario." 

But Langhorne's okay with that. “To me, it’s a lot more scary to have a bunch of gas and electric lines hidden behind a wall somewhere," he told the Post. "It’s the simplest form of fire to put out. Literally you pour water on top of it. It’s going out, and it’s not coming back. There’s no flare ups because the gas main is on.”