Rock Harper: “Hell’s Kitchen” Winner Cooking Up Capital Barbecue

Celebrity chef Rahman “Rock” Harper has opened a new restaurant in Washington, DC.

The winner of season three of Gordon Ramsay’s hit Fox competition series “Hell’s Kitchen” and author of “44 Things Parents Should Know about Healthy Cooking for Kids” has opened a new establish in the expanding Southeast community of the nation’s capital called Willie’s Brew & Que.

“It is in Washington, DC right by the Navy Yard,” the chef told, during our interview at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at the Epcot Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. “We’re located in a historic building and you can see the National’s stadium from our restaurant.”

Willie’s Brew & Que (300 Tingey St SE) the latest restaurant helmed by Rock—his previous one being a sausage-focused restaurant Fatshorty’s right outside of the District of Columbia in Clarendon, Virginia. This time around, the main attraction for the 37-year-old culinary whiz is barbecue.

“It’s barbecue and a bunch of adult libations,” he smiled, while discussing the mention. “The smoker is Willie, who we named the restaurant after. It has community tables, a lot of communal eating and lots of barbecue. We can get 105 in there.”

Pulled pork, chips & slaw at Willie’s Brew & Que

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Rock is a former executive chef for the now defunct B. Smith’s Restaurant in DC’s Union Station. While there, he became known for his signature Surf and turf of fried chicken and crab cakes—a dish that ultimately won him acclaim on “Hell’s Kitchen.” Rock included that dish on the menu when he launched Ben’s Next Door in 2008, an upscale spin-off of the famous DC establishment Ben’s Chili Bowl.

While at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the Washington, DC native said he wanted to showcase a dish at Party of the Senses that people who may not get to his hometown will enjoy.

Jawn Murray & Rock Harper

“For me its usually pretty simple, I want to feature something that I can serve to the many people who will never eat in one of my restaurants up in DC or Virginia, so it’s comfort food. This year, it was macaroni and cheese,” he explained. “So I did a play on it this year, but this year I did a braised beef cheek over a mac and cheese with a gruyere and cheddar to get that sharp taste with a bit of American cheese in there.  Where I grow up, mac and cheese is baked and you top it with breadcrumbs and cheese or what my friend used to call scraggle. So I baked some breadcrumbs and butter together and I’ll top it with that to give it that crunch.” can confirm that the mac and cheese was absolutely delicious!

Though you won’t get the version served at Walt Disney World, you can find mac and cheese; as well as St. Louis-style ribs, ancho-rubbed brisket, jerk chicken, Korean-style wings, pulled pork, burgers, braised kale, slaw and more at Rock’s Willie’s Brew & Que.

For additional details on the restaurant, go to

Rock Harper

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