When I signed up to attend the 12th Annual Capital Food Fight, I didn’t know I would be fending off invitation after invitation to sample the best of DC cuisine. Let me tell you, these dishes were working it with their come hither, smoldering displays, and I had to learn to say NO much to my stomach’s dismay.
To give you a bit of context into my first foray into foodie territory, anyone who knows me knows I love food. My favorite kind? UNLIMITED. Naturally, the Jose Andres (no explanation needed) and Carla Hall (The Chew, Top Chef) -hosted event and I were a perfect match. When November 12 rolled around, my exuberance would lead me to a black tie affair at the National Building Museum AKA not where I was supposed to be… one cancelled Lyft and an Uber ride later, I ended up at the Reagan Building.
To my credit, I made a considerable effort to try each of the samplings at the 75+ station event. Toro Toro, LeDiplomate, Bearnaise, and 23 other tables faced the main stage featuring the “Food Fight” competition between DC’s own culinary greats: Amy Brandwein–Centrolina, Harper McClure–BRABO, K.N. Vinod–Indique, and Nick Stefanelli–Masseria. Congrats to Amy, who ended up taking home the W for the night!
The competition sizzled in the atrium for the duration of the three-hour event, while attendees buzzed around the building picking and nibbling at as many bites they could fit within the allotted time frame. The biggest hassle of all was trying to determine the perfect palate cleanser. Jumping from station to adjacent station was not the most strategic of ideas, as a good majority of the foods were heavily protein-based. Sorry Vegans!
When I needed an eating break I headed to the ballroom, where I was greeted by the image of the outrageous High Stakes Cakes, the remainder of the tasting stations (yes, there were indeed more), and the culinary students of DC Central Kitchen.
It was here I met student Takia Jenkins, whose four-person team placed second for their Thai Pork Rolls. While everyone was hustling, bustling, and aggressively collecting food, Takia took the time to share her story. She learned about the program during parole several months back from a fellow student. Fast forward to present day, and her passion for not only the food, but also for her personal success, was evident in how fondly she spoke of DC Central Kitchen. A huge instructional component is dedicated to “self-empowerment”, helping students view food creation as a means of self-sufficiency.
When my stomach was ready for more, I dove back into the action for a few bites – and no review would be complete without a couple of shout outs to my favorites. First to Table, for their innovative backstory and their multi-bean combo dish, which was farmed by the Amish. Also, kudos to Toro Toro for their “Cachapas”, a delightful mix of duck, corn, cheese, and tomato jam. Finally, to the waitstaff who helped yours truly shamelessly stow leftover food in my bag!
By the end, my bodily limitations forced me to visually devour the food. That, readers, is the sign of a truly great food event – when you can’t eat another bite and must harass innocent bystanders to eat vicariously through them.