The Dish: Chefs for Equality

D.C.’s hottest toques and tipplers team up to raise money for marriage equality.


When , the vice president for development and marketing for the Human Rights Campaign, reached out last summer to David Hagedorn to help organize a fundraiser for the marriage equality push in Maryland, he knew immediately he was in. “This is a basic civil rights issue to me, and something I truly believe in, he says.” (The issue of marriage equality is being put to a referendum in Maryland on Election Day this November.)

Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong and The Inn at Little Washington's Patrick O'Connell are among the many chefs participating in HRC's Chefs for Equality fundraiser. (File photo)

Culinary-based fundraisers are nothing new to Hagedorn, as Nelson knew. He created the Chef’s Best for Food and Friends 22 years ago, which has evolved into a major chef event in the area. So he reached out to friends and colleagues, and chefs — either calling them directly or accosting them on Facebook and Twitter, he admits. He and mixologist go way back; one call and Hagedorn knew he had the support of all the area’s top bar talent. (Hagedorn’s partner Michael calls him the “Venus Fly Trap of fundraising,” after all.) “I was blown away by the outpouring of support, but not surprised. We simply have the best chef community in the country here in Washington, D.C.

Friends and of Amaryllis Inc. Floral and Event Design immediately agreed to design the entire event, creating a theme that combines that of a chef benefit and a wedding expo, complete with wedding cakes as desserts.

The result of these tireless efforts became Chefs for Equality: Meet and Greet; Eat and Defeat, an evening of deliciousness for a great cause. On October 24, 2012, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., guests in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton D.C. will enjoy sips and apps from the area’s best culinary talents. Fashion icon and television personality is set to emcee the event, and Gov. Martin O’Malley is the featured guest.

Here is the impressive list of participating chefs:

, Hank’s Oyster Bar
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve
, Woodberry Kitchen
, Toki Underground
Haidar Karoum, Proof/Estadio
Bryan Voltaggio, Volt
, Pearl Dive Oyster Bar
Jose Andres, ThinkFoodGroup
, Elisir
, Bayou Bakery
, Dino
, Central
, Graffiato
Cedric Maupillier, Mintwood Place
Todd and , Equinox
, Woodward Table
, Rogue 24
, Birch and Barley
, Buzz Bakery
, Taco Bamba
Mary Lee Montfort, Mary Lee’s Desserts
Kimberly Robinson, Makin’ Whoopie
Aaron McCloud, Cedar
, The Source
, Granville Moore’s
, Kaz Sushi Bistro
, Passion Food Hospitality
, Urbana
, Poste Moderne Brasserie
, Firefly
, Ris
, Evening Star Café
and , Ripple
Scot Harlan, Green Pig Bistro
, EatWell DC
Vikeram Suderam, Rasika
, Bibiana
, PS7s
, Carmine’s
, Café Saint-Ex
, Bar Pilar
, BLT Steak
, Food, Wine & Co.
, The Federalist
, Mayfair and Pine
Michelle and Christophe Poteaux, Bastille

Tearing up the shakers are D.C.’s best mixologists: Todd Thrasher (TNT); ( Proof/Estadio); , (Eddy Bar/Buffalo and Bergen), (Columbia Room); (Fiola); (Rogue 24); (Firefly) and Andrew Shapiro (Green Pig Bistro).

In addition, a handful of lucky auction winners (auction available online right now at can partake in a five-course dinner for eight, personally prepared for them by a duo of superstar chefs with wine pairings personally offered by top-flight sommeliers.

The evening also features tableaux vivants of men’s and women’s fashions; a top-end auction featuring fashion, home accessories, jewelry, trips and restaurant packages; and special video appearances by star chefs like Roberto Donna, and Patrick O’Connell, offering fabulous auction items.

Graffiato is hosting the after-party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., with small plates by Mike Isabella, Scott Drewno and Teddy Folkman, along with cocktails and a DJ.

Tickets for Chefs for Equality originally cost $300 each. But, as of October 16, 2012, due to a large contribution from HRC board member , prices have been reduced to $150, and can be purchased at

Kelly Magyarics is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on


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