For the fifteenth year in a row, local chefs will compete in a roaring culinary battle that offers bragging rights and charitable support to non-profit D.C. Central Kitchen. On November 8, The Capital Food Fight offers a taste of over 70 of the D.C. area’s top restaurants with tasty delights like poke tuna, mini brat sliders and even vegan ramen.
Facing off against each other on a live stage battle will be Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, Autumn Cline of Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns and Kevin Tien of Himitsu. Judging the competition will be chefs and restaurateurs José Andrés, Spike Mendelsohn, Jennifer Carroll, Tom Colicchio, Food Network and Cooking Channel host Tregaye Fraser, TV personality and chef David Guas, TV personality Andrew Zimmern, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and O.A.R. guitarist and songwriter Richard On. On the mic at the event will be the Master of Ceremonies Tommy McFly, former host of The Tommy Show on 94.7 Fresh FM, alongside field reporters Kelly Collis and Jen Richer.
Mendelsohn has been a part of Capital Food Fight since 2008 when he first participated as a chef competitor. “I’m looking forward to hosting again with José [Andrés],” he says. “For some of us in the industry, we’re pretty used to seeing Anthony Bourdain in the pen. It’s going to be a little sad … We’re just looking forward to a fun event.”
Along with a venue change—moving from the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to The Anthem at The Wharf—this year’s event will also offer a cocktail competition. The six battling mixologists will battle for the public’s vote on who is the master of the creative cocktail. This year’s featured mixologists include Adam Bernbach of Estadio, Trevor Frye of Wash Line LLC, Sarah Rosner of Bourbon Steak, Carlie Steiner of Himitsu, Owen Thompson of Archipelago and Jessica Weinstein of JL Restaurant Group.
For 10 years, mixologist and owner of Union Market’s Buffalo & Bergen Gina Chersevani has been involved in Capital Food Fight. She says that this will be the first time that the public will be able to vote on a winner at the event, adding, “[It’s] really giving mixology its rightful due and how creative it is to come up with these cocktails. It’s like creating a dish.”
On any last-minute tips worth knowing before attending, Chersevani says, “You should not eat before you come to the event.”
Capital Food Fight does more than highlight some of the best culinary and mixology talent in the region. All proceeds will go to D.C. Central Kitchen, a 1989-founded community kitchen with the mission to prepare unemployed adults for culinary careers as well as feed those in local schools, homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics and after-school programs.
“People see exactly the efforts, where the money goes, and it’s very focused on food deserts,” said Mendelsohn. “There’s a real program, and while these students are growing through this, they are feeding the homeless … It’s effective. So, I think that alone is a great takeaway for people and why they keep donating and staying involved.”
To attend this year’s event, general admission tickets start at $275. The event is also partnering with Lyft, so use promo code FOODFIGHT18 for 20 percent off one ride on November 8 between 4 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. With each ride, Lyft will donate $1 to D.C. Central Kitchen.