Korean-born Daniel Harthausen says he won’t list all the places he’s lived, “We moved around a bunch.”
The itinerant lifestyle, part and parcel with having a parent in the military, an Air Force dad in this case, eventually brought Harthausen to Hampton Roads, where he attended high school before moving to Richmond to make his way in the restaurant industry.
At only 21, Harthausen was brought on by Richmond chef John Maher to help run the kitchen at Japanese izakaya concept, Yaki, which ran as a pop-up out of cocktail bar The Rogue Gentlemen, the space that now houses restaurant Adarra.
“I didn’t know everything I was doing,” Harthausen says. “But I was there for the challenge. It ended up not working out, but it was a very influential experience as far as pushing me forward with everything now.”
After Yaki, the young chef decided to take some time off from cooking, focusing instead on perfecting front-of-house operations, from bartending to managing to serving. Without realizing it, he ended up back at the same building that once hosted the Yaki pop-up.
“I was a server at Adarra for about a year – I wanted to improve my wine knowledge and they were the place to go,” Harthausen says.
“One thing I appreciate about Randall and Lyne [Doetzer, Adarra’s owners] is that they never sacrificed what they wanted to give people because of their circumstances,” Harthausen says. “They’re rebounding really well because of that. They grinded through this insane time but never gave up what they were about, and I appreciate that.”
With his passion for cooking reignited, Harthausen decided it was time to get back in the kitchen. He hosted his first Japanese pop-up, Young Mother, at Adarra this March.
He’s been hosting a pop-up in the space one Monday a month ever since.
“I wanted to do a deep dive into Japanese and Korean history because I was never really taught Eastern Asian history in school or anything, and I found there was a lot of overlap between the two countries,” Harthausen says, who spent summers as a teen in Okinawa visiting his mother. “Turns out, I’m part Japanese.”
Harthausen has been posting long-form, episodic narratives alongside gorgeous food photos on his Young Mother Instagram, exploring the stories behind different Japanese dishes – and unfiltered sakes – along with his followers.
“There is a reasoning behind everything I make,” Harthausen says. “When I approach any concept I have intentionality, otherwise why would you do it? I think being transparent about that is fun for the guest, and it also gives me paths to work down.”
Young Mother events have played out like a typical dinner service – no tickets or high expectations required. “It’s the first time I’ve really been in a setting where I can talk to guests after their meal, which is really rewarding,” Harthausen says.
As for future Young Mother plans? Harthausen, who currently runs the coffee program at Common House and also is one of the club’s managers, says he’s going to keep dialing in his dishes as long as Adarra will have him. “I don’t know if necessarily the goal is opening my own space, but I know right now it’s really fun to do once a month.” S
Keep an eye out for details on Young Mother’s fifth pop-up taking place Aug. 9 at Adarra by following it on Instagram, @youngmotherva.