“I understood early on that Cindy was no joke,” said Foreman.
Georgia Brown’s was a success, especially with a racial cross section of Washington politicians, serving a menu of Southern staples like shrimp perloo and collard greens. It has become a part of a group of popular Washington restaurants including Vidalia, Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half Shell, where chefs with gastronomic backgrounds served variations on southern regional food.
“Gourmet restaurants were still predominantly French and Italian at the time,” Ms. Wolf said.
She and Mr. Foreman married, then moved to Baltimore, her hometown, in 1994. They opened Charleston three years later, just before Ms. Wolf was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The nine months of treatment – she walked out cancer free – was a first testament to her unwavering commitment to the first restaurant she had ever owned.
Mike Carson joined the Charleston kitchen staff as Ms Wolf was undergoing chemotherapy. “If you didn’t know – she lost her hair, but she was wearing a bandana and stuff – you wouldn’t know” she was ill, said Mr. Carson, who is now the chef and owner of two restaurants in Pennsylvania. . “She was working as much as possible.”
Ms. Wolf faced her second cancer diagnosis, in 2008, with the same combination of determination and discretion. On a trip home to visit her family, she didn’t tell her parents she was sick, in part because she didn’t want to compound the lingering trauma of losing an older sister, Cathy , because of leukemia, years earlier.
“My family has never been able to cope with it,” she said. “My mother just closed.
Ms. Wolf resists adversity, at least in part, by stepping up her focus on food. She and Mr. Foreman took a gastronomic trip to France a month after completing their first cancer treatments. Travel has become an annual tradition that includes some staff. An outlier was 2010, the year of the couple’s divorce, when Ms. Wolf went to France four times on her own. “I needed to immerse myself in the kitchen,” she says.