There was a time in Washington — circa the late 1960, 1970s and early 1980s — that French cuisine and French restaurants ruled the dining scene and all that went with it, with places like Rive Gauche and Chez Odette, to name just two.
La Chaumiere, which established itself solidly in Georgetown on M Street near Furin’s (now closed) and the Biograph Theater (now a CVS), had an honored place among the French establishments, thanks largely to its founder Gerard Pain, who was of the old school and helped spark classic French bistro cuisine in the 1970s. The Washingtonian food critic called him the “patriarch of local bistros.” Noted diners included President George H.W. Bush, Nancy Reagan and the Dalai Lama.
A native of France, Pain came to the U.S. in 1963, where he first worked at Le Bistro and then the American Lawyers Club. In 1971, Pain began his career as a French restaurateur by buying Pouget, a bistro in Cleveland Park which he renamed L’Escargot.
In 1976, Pain opened and founded La Chaumiere, remaining the owner until 2007. During his tenure, La Chaumiere was named one of the Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top 100 Restaurants every year beginning in 1978. He was president of the American Restaurant Association in 1984 and a member of L’Amicale Culinaire and a member and past president of the Epicurean Club of Washington DC. In 1994, he bought Wolfcreek Farm where he became known as the “French Cowboy.”
Pain passed away March 14 at his home in Charlottesville from complications of a stroke He was 73.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Marie-Therese, daughters Geraldine and Stephanie and four grandchildren.
Contributions can be made in memory of Gerard Pain to Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation, 500 Martha Jefferson Drive, Charlottesville, Va. 22911