This past Monday, celebrity chef José Andrés and friends had Washingtonians salivating for a few hours at the 10th Annual Capital Food Fight, a fundraiser for DC Central Kitchen. For those of you not in the know, DC Central Kitchen, which was founded in 1989, is a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering the community through the vehicle of food. They offer several programs such as the Culinary Job Training program for unemployed men and women, the Food Recycling program that transforms surplus food from local restaurants into nutritious meals, and the Healthy Corners program that provides wholesome options in areas inundated with carry-outs and bodegas peddling preservative-laden products.
Carla Hall of “The Chew” and José Andrés kicked off the evening for the culinary-inclined crowd by introducing celebrity judges, Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, Todd English, and Art Smith, for the secret ingredient food fight. The gastronomy gauntlet featured local chefs, Bertrand Chemel (Executive Chef 2941 Restaurant), Spike Gjerde (Executive Chef/Co-Owner Woodberry Kitchen & Artifact Coffee), Anthony Lombardo (Executive Chef 1789 Restaurant), and the Couch Sessions very own, Erik Bruner-Yang (Executive Chef/Owner Toki Underground and Maketto).
As I walked into one of the adjoining rooms and discovered the battle royale also catered to the glucose glutton, Jay-Z’s rant on the Drake album echoed in my head, “Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake.” Celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman hosted The High Stakes Cake decorating competition. Participants included Beverly Bates (Executive Pastry Chef of Ris), Lauren Graham (The Swiss Bakery), Padua Player (Executive Pastry Chef of Suga Chef), and Joel Singer (Regional Bakery Associate Coordinator for Whole Foods Market’s Mid-Atlantic Region). Over 1500 guests tickled their fancy with food and dessert from 75 of the District’s best restaurants. Beverage directors from Del Campo, Minibar, Cava, and a few other restaurants created cocktail couture in the Speakeasy room.
The first round of the main event pitted Erik Bruner-Yang against Bertand Chemel while Spike Gjerde battled Anthony Lombardo. In the finale, Spike edged out his friend, Erik to win the coveted championship bout. Meanwhile in The High Stakes Cakes competition, Padua Player took home the crown.
Although the evening consisted of delectable offerings, auctions, and much more enjoyed by all, DC Central Kitchen remained the main course. Most importantly, the Capital Food Fight raised $600,000 for DC Central Kitchen and its wonderful programs. During a time of year when we reflect on the many blessings bestowed upon us, remember those in need of a helping hand. Feel free to donate to DC Central Kitchen or find another program in your area.
(Photo credit: Ezra Gregg)
(Video credit: DC Central Kitchen)