Meet Adam: Jewish Wine Connoisseur of the Week

by Rachel Kriegsman / March 30, 2021

Adam Fine has a passion for vegan food and a talent for both making and naming cocktails. He’s currently the Front of House Manager at Fancy Radish where he has learned to be more nimble than ever during the pandemic. When he’s not working, Adam loves exploring DC’s best vegan eats and various art museums on the Mall. Adam loves a good matzo ball soup for Passover and is trying this new vegan recipe this year! Read our 1:1 interview to learn more about Adam and to add a few more local restaurants to your own bucket list!

Rachel: What brought you to DC and what made you stay?

Adam: Back in the Fall of 2014 I decided to make a big change by adopting a vegan lifestyle. Soon after, I was looking for new jobs outside of Connecticut when I came across some open positions at PETA. I figured it would be a good fit given my new lifestyle, so I applied and I ended up getting a job in DC for their communications department. After a year and a half I ended up leaving PETA and eventually found myself falling in love with the restaurant industry in 2017. What made me stay in DC is partly the fact that (when there isn’t a pandemic) there is always something fun and interesting happening whether it’s an art exhibit at a museum or a new restaurant opening. The city is constantly changing and evolving and I find it quite exciting to experience it.

Rachel: We’ve got plenty of foodies in the DC Jewish community. Tell us more about your work at Fancy Radish! 

Adam: Fancy Radish is a vegetable-focused upscale vegan restaurant located on H St. NE. I have been a part of the team since before the restaurant opened back in March of 2018. I started off as a server, but quickly became one of the managers of front of house operations a few months later. Some highlights while working there have been meeting some high-profile guests including two US Supreme Court justices (Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan), Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Cumming, and Moby. When the pandemic hit, I was out of work for about six months until we opened up for consistent carryout in August. 

Starting last September I became the sole Front of House Manager, so I manage the service side of things; basically anything that doesn’t involve kitchen operations. It has been rewarding to work in such a challenging time while trying to build the business back up from only offering carryout to offering delivery through third-party apps, expanding to outdoor dining, and eventually indoor dining as well. Being a wine nerd, I was happy to get involved in developing a new wine menu which I’m very excited about. I’ve also learned that I have a bit of a knack for naming cocktails! I’m hopeful that the vaccine will be distributed widely by this summer so we can have more people back in the dining room. I really miss our regulars and being able to talk more regularly and comfortably with guests.

Rachel: Describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish. 

Adam: Even though I’m not always a morning person, on my dream day I would wake up early (maybe 6:30 am) and go for a quick run to get my energy up and work up an appetite, followed by a hot shower to really wake me up. Then, off to brunch at Fare Well with some friends. Fare Well is a solid vegan diner spot (and Jewish woman owned – shoutout to Doron Petersan!) that has some seriously delicious brunch options (french toast, benedict florentine, pancakes, croissant sandwiches, etc.).

After eating way too much and maybe having a boozy beverage or two we’d walk it off by taking a stroll to the National Mall and then walk around either the National Gallery of Art East Building or the Hirshhorn Museum. Both have lovely sculpture gardens too. Those are probably my two favorite museums in DC. After a few hours of wandering around, I would definitely be ready for lunch. A great vegan lunch spot, which is black-owned, is NuVegan up in Park View on Georgia Ave. (They also have a location in College Park, MD). Amazing soul food here. Their mac & cheese is some of the best I have had. They also have amazing vegan fried “chicken” among many other delicious options.

From there, we would head to Rock Creek Park for a little hiking adventure for a couple of hours. I like how the DMV has a lot of places where you can be in nature within or not far outside of the city. The Billy Goat Trail is another go-to when I want to spend a few hours in nature. After that, I imagine we would probably like to sit down for a while because that’s what a lot of walking will do to you. Being a wine lover, sitting down with a glass of wine is ideal. One of my favorite spots to do so is Maxwell Park, which has locations in Shaw and Navy Yard. I also have to shout out Domestique, which is an amazing natural wine shop that I frequent since I’m not going to wine bars these days. After that, spending a few hours relaxing at home, cooking something delicious for dinner, and cuddling with my cats (Rory and Casper) while watching TV would be a perfect end to the day.

Rachel: What do you do to relax or for fun at the end of a long week? 

Adam: Lately I have really gotten into meditation. I use a couple of apps that help me to relax and focus inward (Headspace is a good one, but I recently got turned onto Insight Timer and I love it). I also enjoy cooking, running, cuddling with my cats, watching the Great British Bake Off or Schitt’s Creek, and playing games on my Nintendo Switch. I know the Fortnite craze is over and it’s kind of for a younger crowd, but I have been playing it with my sister (she’s 23) and her partner lately and it’s been a nice way to unwind and connect with them.

Rachel: Do you have a Jewish role model who inspires you?

Adam: I know it’s probably very cliche for Jews in DC, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was and still is a huge role model for me. She continues to inspire me because she believed in fighting for what is right so deeply and helped to make positive changes for so many people in this country, especially women. If I could be half as amazing as she was, that would be more than enough.

Rachel: What’s your favorite Passover food?

Adam: Matzo ball soup is easily my favorite Passover food, though I will say matzo brei is a very close second. I have the fondest memories of eating matzo ball soup even outside of Passover while growing up. It just has that same level of comfort as chicken noodle soup. This year I’m trying a vegan version of it for the first time from SouperGirl, which is an amazing woman and Jewish-owned company that makes delicious plant-based soups and some other products as well. Happy Passover everyone!

Rachel: What’s at the top of your life bucket list or where are places you’d love to travel? Why?

Adam: Oh man, there are so many places I want to go. Thankfully, I was able to cross off going on Birthright in the Summer of 2019 thanks to the age extension to 32. I just barely made the cut, and had such a life-changing experience in Israel. I feel so very lucky and blessed to have gone before the pandemic hit.

As for where I’d like to go next, the top of my list is anywhere in Southeast Asia, Spain, and Scotland. I feel like Southeast asian cuisine is very vegan-friendly and it’s just a beautiful place from what I’ve seen. As for Spain and Scotland, I’ve always wanted to travel there since I was a child. My father had always promised that we would go, but we never got the opportunity before he passed away a few years ago. I have Scottish heritage, which is why I want to go there. Plus it seems beautiful and I’d love to visit some castles there.

I wanted to visit Spain to see bullfighting when I was younger, but now that I am aware of the cruelty involved and am very into wine I’d rather go for the wine!

Rachel: “When Jews of DC Gather…

Adam: You’re pretty much guaranteed to find some kind of delicious baked goods (challah, rugelach, babka, hamentashen, sufganiyot, etc.)!


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