Kitchen Nightmares

What’s Cooking with Chef Ward?   << Updated>>

The first whiff we get that the Swann Street housemates were less than gracious hosts is in the affidavit.  According to their statements, they spent from 1030pm – 1100pm talking in the kitchen with Robert with only water on the menu. 

Their bad manners have already been picked apart a few months ago, and those entertaining slights certainly pale in comparison to the alleged crimes that followed.  Yet other small elements that seem of place here and only make one of the defendant, Dylan Ward, even more of a cipher.

Dylan Ward’s two-year degree at the Culinary Institute of America probably cost the better part of $40,000 in tuition. 

Ward attended the school between stints of teaching English overseas.  From the Post Duggan series:

After graduating summa cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1992, he taught English on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where he befriended a couple who owned a restaurant.  That got him interested in cooking, and he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in New York’s Hudson Valley.

With a two-year degree in culinary arts, he worked as a caterer in Oregon for a while, then quit in 1996 to teach English again, this time in Taiwan.

We’ve long been familiar with Ward’s circuitous career path and can’t really be surprised that he really didn’t put his CIA degree to work in a professional setting aside from working briefly in a catering outfit.  >> We just learned from a private investigator pal of ours that Ward may have plied his trade at Portland’s Enchanted Table Catering.

The culinary career was missing, but what else?

We won’t read too much into his failure to apply his education professionally in the culinary arts; the restaurant business is a grind afterall, and burned out cooks far outnumber the celebrity chefs.  But as casual Food Network viewers and devotees of such figures as Pepin, Bourdain and le Grand Dame Julia Child, we can’t help but feel a little jealous for not having such an experience.

Many gay men afterall, even as amateurs tend to excel in the kitchen.  We flex our muscles in our own way – over our trophy ranges, choice granite, expensive ingredients and complicated recipes.  But where was Ward’s committment to cooking?  Anyone with the wherewithal to graduate from CIA must have some inner passion for food, right?

Perhaps so, but that dedication to the culinary arts was certainly not on display when Robert came over, not offered so much as a Cheesy Poof or bag of chips, and it’s certainly missing from what else we’ve learned while trying to develop  a better picture of the mysterious Dylan Ward.

From what we’ve heard here and from others who traveled in the Trouple’ social circles, 1509 Swann Street was not known as the place to go for dinner parties that featured large spreads of food.  Odd when one considers that the one roommate with perhaps the most time on his hands was a trained chef.  We’ve been told that on those rare 1509 dinner party occasions it was Victor Zaborsky who managed the menu and cooking.

Also, Victor’s kitchen chores may not have ended with the prep and serving.  After dinner, it was Joe and Dylan who would go out, perhaps leaving clean up to the domestic partner too.

What trained chef and nearly equal member of the family does not cook for the household, his family?

What trained chef keeps his fancy cutlery “tucked away in a cabinet?”

What trained chef is such a lousy host?

-posted by Craig

56 comments for “Kitchen Nightmares

  1. Friend of Rob
    02/12/2010 at 12:20 PM

    Maybe Dylan was the top by default because he made such a lousy bottom.

    • former crackho
      02/12/2010 at 1:12 PM

      Maybe he’s next venture will be a reality stint on “America’s Next Top Bottom”. But I wouldn’t worry about the waste of his culinary skills… he’ll put them to good use peeling potatoes in the pokey.

  2. Nick
    02/12/2010 at 1:45 PM

    If they were partying, that would explain why they stuck to water.

    • David
      02/12/2010 at 2:43 PM

      But doesn’t that usually pertain to not mixing alcohol and GHB, which can be deadly, but no GHB was found in Robert’s system.


      • Craig
        02/12/2010 at 3:23 PM

        Why do I have the feeling none of those water glasses were tested for traces of… anything?

        • David
          02/12/2010 at 4:43 PM

          The glasses in the dishwasher were tested for fingerprints, but beyond that, I am not sure.


  3. CDinDC
    02/12/2010 at 3:00 PM

    I’ve always conjectured that all “retired” immediately upon Robert’s arrival with the intent to catch up in the morning. Robert, after all, had a very long day. Perhaps it was Robert that wanted nothing more than a glass of water, a cool shower and to turn in. Upon retiring upstairs, things went south because Joe had ulterior motives that he wanted to institute.

  4. Bea
    02/12/2010 at 3:29 PM

    I too think that they did NOT spend 30 minutes downstairs, that the ‘business at hand’ began within ten minutes or so – and I suspect that Robert was dead a bit after 11. It would take considerable time to clean, pack horse away, come up with a couple of stories.

    Would be nice if the glasses were tested. Any ideas on who W-5 is? He/she may level the biggest blow of all – possibly more so than Office Durham. Would put the knife-wiping squarely on Joe.

    How pathetic is it that Victor had to cook AND then clean up after dinner parties? Spineless is as spineless does. Even if he can’t grow a spine, maybe he could grow a pair (temporarily at least).

    • CDinDC
      02/12/2010 at 4:07 PM

      My one thought about W-5’s testimony regarding “moving/removing” the knife, it seems that Joe could wiggle his way out of that. I said “I MOVED the knife, not removed.” Or vice versa. These words could easily be mistaken for one another.

      But Officer Durham’s testimony that Joe said he found Robert outside and then took him upstaris could in no way be misinterpreted.

      • Bea
        02/12/2010 at 4:59 PM

        We usually agree, CD, and there’s no doubt that Officer Durham’s testimony would show that Joe changed his story completely. But I’m guessing at Cosi, Joe made himself the center of attention by illustrating that he had to pull the knife out of Robert’s chest. If so, and assuming W-5 has guts and a sense of morality to tell the truth on the stand, think about the devastating effect: no one but Joe could have wiped blood on the fake knife. It had been in Robert’s chest until Joe pulled it out! That knocks it out of the park.

        • CDinDC
          02/12/2010 at 5:16 PM

          And the knife size! If Joe claimed to pull THAT knife out, he’s screwing himself, because everyone knows THAT knife could NOT have been used to kill Robert. It was too long.

          so even if Joe says something like “I was holding the towel against Robert’s chest when I pulled it out,” it still won’t float because that knife is just too long.

          • Bea
            02/12/2010 at 5:54 PM

            Exactly! If W-5 hangs tough, then Joe (if not the others) will be hearing the clang of the prison gate shutting. I’d be surprised at that point if Connolly didn’t drag Victor into the prosecutor’s office to turn witness and murder charges are brought. Possibly even Dylan would try to cut a deal (assuming he wasn’t the person who did the stabbing).

            • CDinDC
              02/12/2010 at 6:21 PM


              • CDinDC
                02/12/2010 at 6:51 PM

                thinking more about that….there was very little blood on the towel, so if Joe claims to have held the towel against the blade when he removed it (to support what he said to W-5), the ONLY markings on the towel appear to be just that. So, it would be evidential that Joe lied about holding the towel against Robert even though he said he did. Supposedly, Robert was still alive and still breathing according to the 911 call. If he was still alive, he would still have been bleeding. So, this may prove that Robert was dead when they called 911 even though they SAID he was breathing.

                • Bea
                  02/12/2010 at 7:40 PM

                  Good point. W-5 would, simply stated, SINK Joe if he/she testifies that he said he pulled the knife from Robert’s chest. And I can SO hear him brag about this for affect. Interesting that W-5 wasn’t identified in the report – W-4 was Sarah but no identity for W-5. That testimony would be far more than catching Joe in a big lie – for all practical purposes, it destroys his entire fairy tale.

                  • CDinDC
                    02/12/2010 at 8:36 PM

                    If Joe crowed this information at Cosi the next morning after the intial interrogation, how and when did W-5 share this information? How would the police have known that W-5 was a Cosi with Joe, et al. I wonder if W-5 went to the police voluntarily with this info?

                    • Bea
                      02/12/2010 at 9:04 PM

                      Page 9 of the Affidavit reads “According to Price, when he arrived at the guest room he found Robert Wone laying in bed already having been stabbed. He said that he recalled that the knife was laying on Robert’s stomach. Price claimed that he picked up the knife and placed it on the night stand. (It should be noted that immediately after his interview with the detectives, Price told a friend, W-5, that he actually pulled the knife out of Mr. Wone’s chest before placing it on the night stand).”

                      It could be that the police interviewed everyone who went to breakfast with the boys. I’d love it if W-5 sought out the police.

  5. AnnaZed
    02/12/2010 at 3:32 PM

    Well, if Joe and Dylan were completely ripped, as I think they were, they would not have been hungry or even conscious of social niceties like offering bits of cheese or even ice (it was very hot outside).

    Robert either succumbed early from drugged water or was attacked soon after beating a hasty retreat upstairs. I think he was probably unsettled or even a bit pissed off about finding his friend inebriated and obnoxious. Maybe some ham-fisted hitting on Robert took place.

    If only he had retreated out of the door instead, if only.

    • Bea
      02/12/2010 at 3:56 PM

      Indeed. But I suspect he was too polite. What a shame.

  6. Friend of Rob
    02/12/2010 at 9:59 PM

    How I wish I could have asked Joe a couple of questions at the funeral.

  7. Bill Shatner
    02/12/2010 at 10:09 PM

    I have a question to throw out to the editors of this site should they wih to address it in a future post. Let me state first that i do not believe in conspiracy theories. But….is it possible that much more is going on with this murder than meets the eye? An earlier post states that the police were about to make an arrest but that the burglary of the house derailed that. That makes no sense at all…the police took away walls and stairs and carpet, etc and hadn’t been back to the house for months – so it was robbed, so what. What I’m getting at: are the police looking to avoid making an arrest? Does this murder have national security implications? What was Wong really doing. GC at Radio Asia – yeah, right. Someone wnted to keep him quite because he knew something at a national security level, and pressure is now being put on the police to give the appearance of an investigation. Eric Holder? The perfect cover to make the appearance that something is being done. What if he ordered (or knows who ordered) a hit on Wong? What do we really know about the backgrounds of the people at the house? Reference has been made to the huge sums of money being spent on their legal fund. What if the government is actually funneling the money for their defense (all the while keeping pressure on the police). Look, I’m saying we need to think outside the box and trust no one. Everyone agrees this murder makes “no sense” but maybe it makes perfect sense we just aren’t looking beyond what “makes sense.”

    • Bea
      02/12/2010 at 10:22 PM

      Hi Bill,
      We’ve had these theories brought up before but nothing suggests that Robert Wone’s public or private life was ‘conspiracy-worthy’ (to be frank). He was an associate attorney at Covington & Burling right before the job change – hadn’t even met all the employees (which is why he went in that night to work) so it’s doubtful that he had much knowledge of anything ‘important’. And he was General Counsel – in other words, just RFA’s in-house attorney. Not a ‘sexy’ position – he’d have worked on such things as whether an employee had been harrassed, whether the licenses being utilized were up to date – mundane stuff for 95% of his time. And, again, it was a job he’d just started.

      Holder was a partner at Covington. Of course he’d want to support Robert’s widow.

      The large sums for the defense have been paid by the defendants/their families/their friends. Nothing suggests anything untoward.

      Sorry, but we’ve been down this road before and it just doesn’t fly. You might want to track down prior posts of this nature and read up on it as I doubt people here will want to rehash it.

      Best to you.

    • Eagle
      02/12/2010 at 10:37 PM

      I agree that it is time to start thinking outside the box and take nothing for granted.
      No scenario submitted so far quite explains the various mysteries connected with this tragic death.

      • Clio
        02/12/2010 at 10:50 PM

        Bill and Eagle, “outside the box” should NOT mean reducing the complexities and inconsistencies of this case to a streamlined, logical conspiracy with external actors outside of that “sardine can” of a rowhouse from 1886. Thanks, but, as Bea noted, we’ve visited these “outer limits” explanations many times before.

        • Eagle
          02/12/2010 at 10:57 PM

          I would hope that new ideas on this blog would be welcomed.
          I disagree that “the box” is Swann Street.
          Perhaps, but I must respectfully decline to close any doors.

          • She did it
            02/13/2010 at 9:18 AM

            new ideas are welcome. but common sense will NOT be ignored. and answers are demanded from the trouple before the box is expanded. ward has lots of explaining to do – and may be hiding behind the crutch of mental illness as opposed to taking responsibility for any of the many foot faults of his life.

    • AnnaZed
      02/13/2010 at 2:46 AM

      Hi Bill, you aren’t much for conspiracy theories, grassy knolls that kind of thing? I feel ya’ on that. I do. I’m not either.

      As to the idea that Robert was targeted by a conspiracy connected to Radio Free Asia, it had crossed my mind, or it did about a year ago and I have since discarded it.

      The problem with any theory involving actors from outside of the townhouse is that there is no evidence of anyone having been there but Robert and the three housemates. I call this theory of intrusion – the “elves theory” – and Joe certainly liked it from the start. So much that he advanced several versions of it. Unfortunately for him, his advancing of these theories; one with Robert found at the back door and brought upstairs, one with the knife lying on Robert’s stomach, one where he was alive during the 911 call, one where he (Joe) actually removed the knife from Robert’s chest ~ all do nothing but turn the gimlet eye of scrutiny back on Joe. Joe is the one telling lies here, not Eric Holder.

  8. Bill Shatner
    02/12/2010 at 10:12 PM

    sorry, I meant Wone, not Wong. Apologies.

  9. Clio
    02/12/2010 at 10:16 PM

    So, Dyl was never good at anything that he tried: vanity presses, a little catering, and highlighted passages, oh my!

    It does not surprise me that Victor/Vicki, after a hard day at work, had to cook for those two bums. It is no wonder that Victor/Vicki brought Sarah into the house for company; did the two girlfriends then try “to save” their boys by lying for them on and after 8/2/06?

  10. CDinDC
    02/12/2010 at 10:44 PM

    I’ll be right in after I park my spaceship.

  11. Clio
    02/13/2010 at 11:08 AM

    Editors, what specifically did Victor provide dinner guests on those rare occasions when the trouple entertained (in the conventional sense)? Was Dyl at least his scullery maid? I cannot believe that a sexual servant outranked the madame of the house: that is revolutionary!

  12. Bill Shatner
    02/13/2010 at 11:32 AM

    alright thanks for the feedback – i guess when nothing makes sense conspiracy seems to fill in the gaps. perhaps the reality of a ‘senseless’ sex murder is harder to comprehend than an improbable conspiracy. no offense meant to eric holder either; just incredible that with the pressure of one of the most powerful men in government this case is so stalled. this truly is a horrible tragedy and condolences to his friends and family.

    • CDinDC
      02/13/2010 at 12:11 PM

      But the thing is, Bill, it does make sense. Absolutely no signs of an intruder point to the fact that it was an “inside job.” Period.

      We may not know the exact details of how the crime “went down” that night, but we do know that the defendants are responsible for the death of Robert Wone.

      Do we know who exactly plunged the knife into Robert’s body? No, but we know it was one of them. Do we know why? No, but we know it happened. No one needs to prove why.

      Just because we on can’t detail the crime with 100% certainty, doesn’t mean the police department and prosecutor’s office don’t know more.

      Like Bea said, Robert had just started at that job, and he would have been more connected to the landlord of the building by way of leasing contracts than he would dissenters in China.

    • Craig
      02/13/2010 at 12:25 PM

      Capt. Kirk – The idea of a ‘senseless sex murder’ and the lack of any obvious motive(s), so confounded the case’s initial investigators, that their instincts led them doen the path of intruder. And to them at the time, the obvious intruder seemed like Price’s brother Michael.

      They no doubt put him through the paces and leaned on him pretty hard, going so far as to conduct tests on his clothing.
      He was of course cleared.

      What I’d love to know is if Michael was part of the grand jury proceedings and if so, who represented him.

    • Doug
      02/13/2010 at 12:57 PM

      Bill, as others have pointed out we’ve looked into the conspiracy theory, but there are serious problems that are seemingly too large to overcome. First, the conspirator would have to have known not only of Robert’s plans that evening, but even which room in an unfamiliar house he would be staying in. But we’ve learned that Robert and Joe were pretty much the only ones discussing the sleep-over; only Kathy, a colleague of Robert’s and we expect Dylan knew. (Harder to say when Victor and Sarah found out.) Second, MPD investigators found no evidence of any break-in path; even our amateur exploration some time later confirmed that even the most talented assassin would have had to leave traces and/or attrack attention in the back alley.
      And third, while it is hard to understand the ‘senseless’ sex crime, homicide investigator Dallas Drake had some interesting thoughts to offer in this recent post.
      -Doug, co-editor

      • CDinDC
        02/13/2010 at 2:47 PM

        Doug says: “(Harder to say when Victor and Sarah found out.)”

        Victor supposedly found out that day when he arrived home early from a business trip.

        • AnnaZed
          02/13/2010 at 2:49 PM

          Hard to know the specifics (ok, impossible), but I believe that Sarah was told in no uncertain terms to make herself scarce that night.

  13. Clio
    02/13/2010 at 12:49 PM

    Enchanted Table Catering looks first-rate from their website with that fruit tray and its kiwi slices arranged just right. If I ever move to Portland, I’ll look them up. Their exquisite spreads and emphasis on customer service probably were too much bother, though, for the saturnine, shallow servant (Mr. Ward) to stomach.

    • CDinDC
      02/13/2010 at 2:50 PM

      Maybe Chef/owner Lisa Li would be kind enough to do an interview with Worth an ask.

  14. Clio
    02/13/2010 at 5:03 PM

    Editors, was the befriended couple on Kyushu a heterosexual one or a gay male one or a lesbian union?

    • Craig
      02/14/2010 at 11:37 AM

      Clio: We’re uncertain but would like to know. We’ve a handful of readers from over there, but all seemingly mum.

    • CDinDC
      02/14/2010 at 1:21 PM

      “……he taught English on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where he befriended a couple who owned a restaurant. That got him interested in cooking, and he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America….. .”

      This is another example of how Dylan is significantly influenced by people around him. He befriends a couple that owns a restaurant so he takes up cooking. He befriends a man that is interested in S&M, so he takes up S&M. Dylan sounds weak and craves acceptance.

      Not unlike people that join gangs and/or cults and go outside of the norm to please and be accepted.

      • Clio
        02/14/2010 at 5:06 PM

        What then got him interested in children’s literature, of all things? Another “friend”?

        And, do we know any more about the “friend” who introduced Dylan (as a boarder) to Zaborsky-Price? Was there a connection to Asia there, too?

        • Bea
          02/14/2010 at 6:01 PM

          The guy’s name is in the pleadings somewhere, was a DC attorney at the time who took a post somewhere in Asia if I recall correctly.

          • David
            02/14/2010 at 6:38 PM

            Peter Derenbach was an associate at Arent Fox and was renting the basement unit of Joe and Victor’s Constitution Avenue home, and knew Dylan. When Derenbach moved to Taiwan, Dylan moved in the basement on Constitution Avenue. This information is contained in Paul Duggan’s Washington Post reporting.


          • Craig
            02/14/2010 at 6:50 PM

            Bea: The guy’s name is Peter Dernbach. Yet another roommate of Joe and Victor’s. Duggan had this in the Post series on him and his connection.

            • Clio
              02/14/2010 at 8:49 PM

              Thanks, Editors. I would love to see Counselor Dernbach interviewed by He seems to be Dyl’s only other friend, outside of his families, both biological and chosen.

              • She did it
                02/14/2010 at 9:01 PM

                Dernbach is easy on the eyes (although at one point I made a similar comment about Ward’s mug shot, so don’t talk all I have to say as Gospel).

                I wonder if the trouple is dining at the Inn of Little Washington this Valentine’s, or if they chose a more modest venue to celebrate their progressive relationship. In any event, love to all those keeping their eyes on this case.

            • CDinDC
              02/14/2010 at 10:19 PM

              You’re kidding me….so Dylan’s Taiwan interest was influenced by yet another person….Peter Dernbach?

              Does he do ANYTHING that is not influenced by someone else? Is he that much of a sheep following someone else’s lead.

              Dylan took on a very bad identity when he met Joe.

              • Clio
                02/14/2010 at 10:29 PM

                In science fiction, Dyl would be deemed a changeling or shape shifter, trimming his sails to fit in whichever “port” he found himself. A trickster, yet of the passive, osmosis variety, soaking (and soaking up) everything near him? Sad!

  15. Robert
    04/08/2010 at 12:20 PM

    I think that Robert may have retired early than he planned on account of his becoming drowsy from the date rape drug.

  16. Robert
    04/08/2010 at 1:43 PM

    I think the coroner’s report indicated that the knife at the scene could not have been the one that killed Robert.

    There was subsequent evidence that based upon a manufacturer’s match to the knife missing from Dylan’s culinary set, that this missing knife could have been the murder weapon.

    As you know, I tend to think that Dylan rather than Joe did the stabbing. But either way, one could turn on the other if the Price is right.

    I can understand BEA being weary of this secret agent stuff. I hate to admit it, but I have friends in each of the major US intelligence agencies. But I don’t need them to tell me how foreign agents carry out assassinations of their enemies.

    When a foreign government wants to kill or “hit” a high profile target so to speak, they generally want to make a “statement” and instill fear.

    In the unlikely event the Chinese felt threatened by the new general counsel to Radio Free Asia and targeted him for assassination, they would have most likely done one of two things: 1) waited until Wone was driving in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, pulled up along side him and shot him in the head; 2) gone to Robert’s house and ambushed him in the driveway and shot him in the head.

    The only way an intelligence agency would have assassinated Wone in the manner evidenced is if that intelligence agency sought to kill him in such an amateurish way that nobody could, would or should ever imagine it was done by such agency.

    No intelligence agent: 1) goes to the site of a “hit” without a murder weapon; 2a) rustles around in the kitchen for a knife which will not match the murder stab wounds expecting that none of the residents of the house will hear him or 2b) rustles around in the room of a resident for a knife that will match the murder stab wounds expecting that not even the resident of that room will hear him; 3a) needs to inject the victim with a paralytic before stabbing him or 3b) feels the need to inject the victim with a paralytic after stabbing him; 4a) feels the need to stab the victim after smothering him to death or 4b) has to stab the victim because he failed in his attempt to smother him to death; 5) cleans up the victim’s blood in the mistaken belief that it will eliminate all traces of DNA; 6) troubles to move the body from one part of a site to another part for no good reason; 7) washes and dresses the victim gratuitously in his college tee shirt; 8) positions him in a macabre way echoing a cartoon in a magazine which the hit man just happened to spy on the floor in a darkened room
    of the resident when the hit man was earlier there procuring the murder knife; and 8) times the entire sequence of events in accordance with the sleeping and waking schedules of the residents.

    No. Even in the unlikely event that an intelligence agent decided to assassinate a target in the home of some of the victim’s friends, the agent would bring along a gun with a silencer and shoot the target in the head. No fuss, no muss.

    You don’t need conspiracy theories. What you need is a mysterious intruder to the presence of which all of the residents of the house can testify.

  17. Robert
    04/08/2010 at 2:09 PM

    Det. Dallas Drake contends that there is no motive in this case. I beg to differ. I think that Joseph Price’s unrequited love for Robert is it.

    Detective Drake calls the prosecution a “fishing expedition.” I hear that all the time, usually from defense attorneys as well as detectives who cannot find something or make sense out of anything.

    Drake implies that sex crimes are just that “sex crimes.” I differ with him again. Date rapers have conquest motives. Transgender rapers have anger motives. S&M rapers have humiliation motives.

    You mean you don’t think that Dylan has lots of
    “friends” in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand? I can’t imagine why not? Don’t tell me? He couldn’t find either a “bottom” or a “top” in all of Asia?

    Now don’t tell me he couldn’t find anyBody into BDSM in all of Asia. Even if he could not find such a one in Taiwan or Thailand, Japan is
    “full with ’em” and I am not KIDding.

  18. Robert
    04/08/2010 at 2:17 PM

    Unfortunately, “just because we on it can’t detail the crime with 100% certainty doesn’t mean that the police department and prosecutor’s office” DO KNOW MORE. Certainly hope they do.

    I am hoping that “W5” turns out to be Michael Price. That is presuming he knows something.

    • AnnaZed
      04/08/2010 at 2:24 PM

      I’m hoping that W5 is Lisa whatshernoodle the famous journalist summoned by Joe Price himself and somehow (in spite of working for CNN) having enough integrity and respect for Robert to tell what she heard.

  19. Robert
    04/08/2010 at 6:05 PM

    Maybe your right. The iron chef lady would be better than Michael the Price is Wrong.

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