Our Story

blue44_dc_storefrontBlue 44 serves New American, seasonal cuisine. Our neighborhood kitchen and bar was created with the belief that serving delicious, fresh farm food from the best ingredients – sourced locally, whenever possible – promotes a healthier and more sustainable community. Located in the heart of Chevy Chase DC, Blue 44 was inspired by friends and family with a goal of providing great food and a welcoming environment for residents, students, and children of all ages.

 

Christofer Nardelli – Owner & Operator

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Chris came to Washington, DC in 1995 to attend American University where he would achieve his degree in Journalism.  During his time at AU and after graduation, he worked at Cafe Ole for his mentor, Ziad Maalouf, in Tenleytown, DC as a server, bartender and manager.  Chris’ many years of experience at Cafe Ole, his fond memories working at his Godfather’s restaurant in Pittsburgh when he was a teenager, and his love of the restaurant and hospitality industry led him to open Blue 44 in April, 2011.
The Blue 44 name was inspired by Nardelli’s roots, family, and the memory of a close friend.  Since opening, the restaurant has been a three time consecutive winner of the Washington City paper’s Reader’s Award for Best Fried Chicken (Monday nights only!), has been written up both nationally and internationally for receiving a $2,000 tip (a testament to the quality of food and service), and has been featured in local and regional publications numerous times.
Father to his daughter Sofy and husband to his wife Ximena, Chris brings his love of family to the restaurant every day, welcoming children of all ages as well as the parents looking for a nice evening out with great food and atmosphere.  Chris and his entire team are dedicated to being active members of the neighborhood and ensuring that it supports the community that supports it. That is the philosophy that guides his every action at Blue 44.

James Turner-Chef

Blue 44 DC-Chef James Turner
(Photo: Courtesy of Washington City Paper)

Introduced through a mutual friend, Blue 44 owner Christofer Nardelli and Chef James Turner quickly bonded in their shared passion for food and love of the restaurant and bar business. Shortly thereafter, Chef Turner agreed to run the kitchen at Blue 44.

A native of Cambridge, MD, Chef Turner is a graduate of the Baltimore International Culinary College. His original inspiration to pursue a career in culinary arts came after winning a local vocational cooking contest. With the influence of his mother, grandmother, and aunts, along with local chefs Tracy O’ Grady, Bob Kinkead, Jeff Black, and Damian Salvatore, Chef Turner describes his food as “simple with a slight twist.”

After graduation from culinary school, Chef Turner worked at the historical Tidewater Inn in Easton, MD as a line cook and quickly moved up to first cook. From Tidewater Inn, he moved to St. Michael’s Harbour Inn and Marina before moving across the Bay Bridge to the historical Treaty of Paris Restaurant in Annapolis, MD. At the Treaty, he worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef. After almost two years at the Treaty in Annapolis, Chef Turner moved to Massachusetts and worked as a line cook at the Boston Ritz Carlton, where he worked with several great chefs of many different nationalities. After two years at the Ritz developing this international flare, he moved back to Maryland to cook at the Washington Monarch Hotel in Washington, DC and gain experience in banquet cooking.

With this wide-ranging culinary experience in hand, he moved to Persimmon in Bethesda, MD, taking the reins as Sous Chef for 5 years. Working alongside chef owner Damian Salvatore, Chef Turner’s experience and love for food came full circle. With Chef Turner’s help, the 2 star rated bistro (Washingtonian Magazine) earned 3 stars for three consecutive years, as well as a Blue Ribbon for best restaurant in the area. Most recently, Chef Turner honed his skills as Executive Chef at Harry Browne’s in Annapolis, MD.

Vidal Martinez – Sous Chef

Born in Mexico and having moved to the area at a young age, Vidal began cooking in restaurants at age 16 at Harry Browne’s in Annapolis, which is where he first met Chef Turner.  It did not take long for the two of them to form a natural chemistry in the kitchen.  After an internship with nationally renowned Chef Jose Andres, Vidal worked at several restaurants in Annapolis, including the Westin Hotel, Hell’s Point (under celebrity Chef Bob Kinkead), Stoney Rivers Steakouse, and Sam’s on the Waterfront.
In 2011, Chef Turner called Vidal and asked him to join his team once again, but this time in DC at Blue 44. Vidal started working as a line cook, however, 2 years later he quickly earned a promotion to Sous Chef, and he continues to excel in this position today.  His dedication to his craft is visible in every dish he sends out from the kitchen, and his passion for excellence has him constantly striving for perfection.

Pete Bakel – Food and Beverage Consultant

A neighborhood resident of Chevy Chase, DC, Pete lives with his wife Beth and two young sons, Bruno and Hugh. Pete met Chris Nardelli at Café Ole in 2006 and the two became fast friends.

A cooking enthusiast and avid hunter/angler, he won first place in the nationally televised contest “Hey, Can You Cook?!” in 2008 on the Emmy-award winning Rachael Ray show. Pete completed an intensive cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has worked as a menu consultant, caterer, and personal chef.

Pete’s made multiple appearances on the Rachael Ray show, including his own cooking segment, and was one of 7 chefs selected to participate in the “Rach to the Rescue” series. He’s been a guest on Fox 5 DC News “What’s Cooking,” and was featured in The Washington Times and The Washington Post’s “The Reliable Source” with Roxanne Roberts.