Chef Frank A. Ruta was appointed Executive Chef of The Grill Room at Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown on January 1, 2015. As Executive Chef, Ruta brings his unique culinary philosophy to The Grill Room and Capella D.C. as well as an affinity for producing flavorful seasonal dishes utilizing ingredients of the highest quality and sourcing the best local produce.
Ruta has won almost all of the restaurant industry’s top accolades including being named by Food & Wine as “Best New Chef” in 2001 and then going on to being named “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” by the James Beard Foundation in 2007.
Ruta began cooking alongside his mother and grandmother early in life and began formal training at the American Culinary Federation's Pittsburgh chapter. After graduating second in his class in 1978, he apprenticed at the Lemon Tree Restaurant in McKeesport, PA. His first formal position was sauce cook at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. After one year, Frank became a chef at Lincoln Hills Country Club in Irwin, Pennsylvania.
The White House hired Frank as Assistant Chef in 1979. By 1982, Frank had progressed to the dual positions of Personal Lunch and Dinner Chef to the Reagan and Bush families and Executive Sous Chef. Frank resigned at The White House in 1987 to accept a chef position at Andrea restaurant, a two-star Michelin restaurant, in Merano, Italy where he studied under Andreus Helrigl for 18 months. At the personal request of Nancy Reagan, Frank returned to the White House in 1988 as Executive Sous Chef. He stayed through the remainder of the Reagan administration and 15 months into the George Herbert Walker Bush presidency.
In 1991, Frank moved on to the world-renowned Le Pavillon, as Sous Chef, under Yannick Cam. Upon the closing of Le Pavillon, Frank took the Grill Chef position at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia, for one year before teaming up with Cam again at Yannick's in Alexandria, Virginia. Eighteen months later, Frank joined the Capital Management Group to take his first Executive Chef position at The River Club, an upscale supper-club, in Georgetown. The restaurant quickly became known for serious fine-dining, and was Frank's first opportunity to introduce his own signature menus.
In 2000, he opened Palena and from the advent the restaurant consistently earned rave reviews and high ratings from critics and diners alike. In December 2000, Washington Post critic, Tom Sietsema called dinner at Palena, "required eating for anyone who aspires to cook in this city."