Friday, April 23, 2010

Introducing the Veronica Diaries

An introduction, I am told, is necessary to begin this journey.  Instead of being some kind of corporeal being that is without name or body I am allowed to bring myself into the light: My name is Veronica, age not specified, along with my weight and ethnic background (we need more time to get to know each other before I can get into those kinds of details).  A California girl who has transplanted herself here and now lives, works, breathes DC. 

I am not a writer by trade; I am someone who enjoys, like many, food, wine, and the camaraderie that can be found around the table.  I am also no food expert, and will never try to make myself out to be one, but like you I am someone who wants to learn and is fascinated how something so simple can be made into something that tastes so good.  This blog is about my experience at Equinox and my journey with the people who make Equinox what it is.  The “Veronica Diaries”, as Ellen Gray simply put it.  I hope you enjoy. 


What do words like organic and locavore mean?  In the past one might imagine hippies with long hair who sustain themselves on granola and tofu.  Yet, what these buzz words truly mean are a return to where we came from: the earth, nature, and all that it provides.  Before it was a cool Equinox was on the front line of this movement.   Supporting local farmers, butchers, cheese makers, etc.  Cooking seasonally, respecting what nature provided in that moment in time, and presenting quality ingredients with a simplistic beauty that is pure and true to the ingredients.  Chef Todd Gray lets the food speak for itself.  Here there are no smoke and mirrors with deconstructed carrots made into foam.  On his plate a radish is a radish and that is enough.

As I sit in the Gray’s kitchen I find myself surrounded by laughter and joy, and no that is not just the wine working it’s magic.  The people that have chosen to be here are believers in the mission of Equinox and it shows in their camaraderie.  Every person is integral and I see not just a chef but a man who readily practices what he preaches. Someone who is just as concerned on the merits of a perfectly cooked carrot versus a radish as he tries to convey a story, and today that story is Spring.

I was invited to come over to the Gray’s house to watch as menu items were tested and plated for a photo session.  It was amazing to watch the attention to detail and to just talk and pester these people who have followed their passion to create what can only be called edible art.  I mean look….

Equinox has met some difficulties.  A fire ravaged the location and forced the restaurant to close it’s doors and now after months of fixing the devastation the Gray’s now face a trail of paperwork and permit applications that keep the re-opening to be determined.  But where there are difficulties there are still things to be done.  Catering, setting up edible garden, farmers markets, etc.  Just because the doors are currently closed at Equinox does not mean that the metaphorical stove has been turned off.  

So stay tuned as we continue this journey together.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Preview

Grilled Carolina Ahi Tuna Steak with 
Spring Radish, Brocolini & Nicoise Vinaigrette 

Garden Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb 
Roasted Garlic


Lemon Macaroon with Mango Sorbet

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Calling on a few good chefs!

Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) is Calling On a Few Good Chefs With a Little Time and a Lot of Heart! 
Friday, May 7, 2010 1:30-3:30 pm
Aria Restaurant at the Ronald Regan International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW  
Help fight hunger where it counts most—in the kitchen! Help Operation Frontline teach low-income families how to prepare tasty, nutritious meals on a limited budget through hands-on classes. It’s the difference between feeding families just for one night, and making sure they have the knowledge, skills and resources to prepare healthy meals for a lifetime.  
In conjunction with Share Our Strength and the Capital Area Food Bank’s Operation Frontline program, and hosted by Equinox’s Ellen Kassoff Gray and Capital Harvest on the Plaza (CHOP), Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) is offering a hands-on orientation and informational program to culinary and nutrition professionals interested in volunteering their time and talents to help Operation Frontline serve up a better future for kids and their families.   
    Operation Frontline knows that the best way to help families in need is to teach them how to help themselves. Since 1993, chefs and nutritionists have volunteered to lead hands-on cooking courses that teach adults, teens and kids how to prepare tasty, nutritious meals on a limited budget. All Operation Frontline courses promote making the healthiest food choices possible, even with limited resources. Instructors teach lifelong cooking skills, practical nutrition information and food budgeting strategies that participants can use right away – and adult and teen participants receive groceries each week to practice the recipes they’ve learned in class at home! Operation Frontline makes it easy to volunteer by providing the curricula, kitchen, cooking supplies, groceries and staff support. 
Not only did this class teach me about healthy, good meals to cook, but it also showed me how to save money. The chefs are great! I have found healthy meals that even my picky kids will eat and have chopped my food bill by at least $50 a week!” – Eating Right graduate 
This event will take place in conjunction with the opening of the new Capital Harvest on the Plaza Farmers Market (CHOP), located on Pennsylvania Avenue NW at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, and will be held on its opening day Friday, May 7th 2010 at 1:30pm. Come early and see a demo from Equinox Chef Todd Gray from 12:30-1:30 pm. We’ll gather at his demo booth at 1:30PM and kick off our event with a tour of the market. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and develop new relationships with area farmers and suppliers of local foods. We’ll then move to the Compass Room of Aria Restaurant for the remainder of the program.
To register for this event, please contact:
Monica Thomas at or 301.699.9597
Ellen Kassoff Gray at 
About WCR:
The mission of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs is to promote and enhance the education, advancement and connection of women in the culinary industry. Formed in 1993 by eight of the nation's top women chefs and restaurateurs, WCR has grown to a membership of over 2,000 members in all segments of the culinary world, offering a variety of networking, professional and support services. For more info, visit  
About Share Our Strength® and Operation Frontline®:
Share Our Strength is a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. Through the leadership of its national network of chefs and grassroots activists, innovative culinary fundraisers, and pioneering cause-marketing partnerships, Share Our Strength has raised more than $265 million and funded more than 1,000 anti-hunger organizations since its inception in 1984. Operation Frontline is a hands-on, cooking-based nutrition education program that teaches families how to make the healthiest food choices possible, even on a limited budget. With 25 programs operating in 19 states and the District of Columbia, Operation Frontline gives chefs the opportunity to have a real and lasting impact in their communities. Locally, Share Our Strength has partnered with the Capital Area Food Bank to offer Operation Frontline to low-income families in the DC Metro Area. For more information, visit and .   
About the Capital Area Food Bank:
The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is the largest public, nonprofit food and nutrition education resource in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Last year, the CAFB distributed 25 million pounds of food through more than 700 partner agencies. In conjunction with partner agencies, the CAFB helps nourish children, seniors and families in need. The Capital Area Food Bank has served the National Capital Region over 30 years. CAFB works with schools, agencies and organizations all over the DC Metro Area (including NOVA, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County) to offer Operation Frontline’s hands-on cooking, nutrition and financial management courses to participants with limited resources. For more information, visit  
About CHOP:
Capital Harvest on the Plaza is a project of the US General Services Administration (GSA) and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). CHOP showcases weekly healthy eating education along with local food producers and chefs. The International Trade Center underwrites Capital Harvest on the Plaza (CHOP), which holds its spring debut on Woodrow Wilson Plaza on May 7th 2010.