Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chef's Best Raises a Record Breaking $960,000

On Monday, May 13th, more than 1,500 guests gathered at The Washington Hilton to help Food and Friends raise $960,000 at their annual Dinner and Auction.  Before settling down to bid on one of a kind getaways and dining experiences, including a cooking class for 6 with Chef Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington (which sold for $15,000),  guests were able to taste dishes from 60 of the region's  most talented chefs. 

Any fans of salmon were in for a treat that night, as salmon dishes were plentiful.  Grillfish prepared house made gravlax salmon ceviche with pomegranate sour cream and pickled ramps, 8407 Kitchen Bar stirred up chilled local asparagus soup, skuna bay salmon tartare, lemon mint and salmon roe, Trummer's On Main cooked up buckwheat blinis with salmon tartare-creme fraiche and rhubarb and onion jam, The Fourth Estate Restaurant at The National Press Club sliced servings of their beet cured salmon, Del Campo supplied seared salmon ceviche with chopped rapini and citrus aioli and 2941 Restaurant offered tastes of their zucchini and feat fritters with ouzo cured salmon.

Salmon wasn't the only seafood available that night. J & G Steakhouse served hamachi sashimi with chipotle mayonnaise and crispy rice, Branzini ceviche was found within Cafe Dupont's prickly melon gazpacho, Logan Tavern cured arctic char to serve with wakame and seaweed salad, Hank's Oyster Bar had a line of people waiting for their sea scallops with shitake mushrooms, sea beans and cauliflower stew, Firefly stirred together chilled asparagus soup with blue crab meat and Black Salt prepared tilapia and sea urchin ceviche with grapefruit, cucumber, melon, jalapeño and cilantro with plantain chips.

Is this not enough seafood options for you? Oh, but there was more! Granville Moore's steamed mussels with smoked chili cream sauce and lamb sausage, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm provided chop tank sweet oyster gazpacho made with tarragon, pickled ramps, and flower petals, DC Coast grilled lemon gnocchi with shrimp, ramp pesto, sweet corn and basil, Jackson 20/The Grille at Morrison House gave guests a taste of amberjack crudo, ponzu, vinaigrette, cilantro scallion, ginger and sea beans and Beuchert's Saloon served lobster vichyssoise with potato salad, chilled mussels, organic olive oil and pickled mustard seed.

Pork was served in just as many varieties as the salmon. Dino offered bites of their pork (as well as their lamb and wild boar), Bar Pilar served country ham sliders with pepper jelly and cream cheese, The Pig provided pork curry with cilantro yogurt, Georgia Brown's cooked crispy pork belly surf and turf with cheddar cheese grits and horseradish foam, Chef Geoff Tyson's dished out smoked Carolina BBQ puffs and Republic, the newest addition to the Black Restaurant group (opening this Fall) plated samples of their local spring vegetable salad, made with kale and arugula, grilled spring onions, asparagus, kohlrabi, Edwards county ham, goat cheese and buttermilk ranch dressing.

Beef got a little love from some of the chefs. Addie's served pickled beef tartare with caper pickled ramps, boquerones, espelette pepper, farro and lavash while The Heights served beef tenderloin tartare on garlic toast.

Of course dinner is never complete without dessert. Dolcezza Gelato scooped samples of their gelato in to mini cones, Hello Cupcake brought mini cupcakes in half a dozen flavors, the Shake Shack crew served generous portions of their olive oil cake frozen custard topped with rhubarb compote, Dolci Gelati allowed guests to choose from five varieties of gelato/sorbet and Founding Farmers supplied Peanut Butter Mousse and Banana Pudding.

You may not believe this based on all the photos above, but there is probably about a dozen or more restaurants I didn't visit, but not from a lack of trying. It was like a never-ending maze of deliciousness!  

Chef's Best is the best of the best when it comes to culinary events in the DC area, not simply because of the amount of food offered, but also because of the organization of the event. The layout of the restaurants in multiple groups of islands really helps prevent any traffic jams. Also, huge props to all the restaurants who kept dishes coming out on a continual basis. I only had to wait in line for two restaurants out of the 40+ tables I visited, and probably not more than a few minutes each. 

Chef's Best is truly a top notch event, plus I'm not sure what can be better than eating for a good cause. The $960,000 raised through this year's Chef's Best will help Food and Friends deliver 1 million meals this year to more than 2,900 children and adults facing life’s most challenging illnesses. If you haven't already been to Chef's Best, you must put it on your DC bucket list, though you may want to classify that list as things to do within the next two years, as Chef's Best is an event you want to add to your calendar as soon as possible.

Thank you to the 60 chefs who offered their time and talent to make this event such as an amazing success!

For more info about how you can get involved with Food and Friends, visit

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