“Cheers to female chefs making a name in D.C.!” That was the call that was heard loud and clear when the new Executive Chef for Todd Gray’s Equinox Restaurant, Karen Nicolas, won the prestigious title of Best New Chef 2012 by Food & Wine magazine.Â And yes, Washingtonians, she’s HERE, a blink away from the White House, in one our favorite dining venues.
Just to show you how strongly folks feel about the movement of women chefs at the top of their field, and how many friends and supporters restauranteurs/power couple Ellen and Todd Gray have, the restaurant closed down late Sunday afternoon to host a private affair honoring Chef Karen.Â The place was packed.Â Had it not been 100+ temps with severe storm warnings (we lucked out and only had rain), we would have been eating, drinking and dancing in the street (sort of), but the hosts kindly kept us cool by holding the event within the glass enclosed dining room. Some dared to venture to the patio though (shout out to Carol Joynt!), sitting and enjoying platefuls of grilled Apricot Mustard and Rosemary Glazed Pork Belly Skewers, Vadouvan Spiced Flank Steak, BBQ Eberly Chicken and Fresh Lake Trout, with sides like Tomato Salad with Pickled Watermelon Rind & Fennel Vinaigrette, Skillet Baked Cheddar Cornbread, Grilled Toigo Peach Salad with Radicchio, Goat Cheese & Yuzu Vinaigrette, Proscuitto/Mozzarella Platter with Accoutrements, Mini Corn on the Cob with BBQ Spice, Lime, Chicharrone Crumbs and Fingerling Potato Salad with Shellbeans & Lemon Caraway Vinaigrette spilling over.
We came back for seconds and thirds, while downing wines and cold beers and listening to the live performance of The Walkaways and catching up on past and future summer travels.Â Then before it was too late, we were privy to some sweet endings like Brownies with Glazed Bing Cherries and Individual Fruit Pies.
Ellen brought Chef Karen around to make introductions.Â She seemed sweet, shy, and humble, yet serious and ready to take on any challenge in the kitchen and at her new-found abode.
Equinox is located at 818 Connecticut Avenue, NW. For times, reservations, and menus, please go to http://equinoxrestaurant.com/.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.