On Valentine’s Day eve, I’d like to pause to give thanks to certain chefs in DC. As a woman who spends a decent amount of time in restaurants around town, I find that some places are just a bit more enjoyable based on who is running the kitchen. Let’s face it: knowing there is a little eye candy working behind-the-scenes on those dishes can make dinner that much sweeter.

So to celebrate Valentine’s Day and give a little back, I’d like to kick off a poll for DC’s Most Crushable Chef. Please read on, cast your vote and be sure to use the comments to lobby for your favorite (this is DC after all).  We’ll post the results in a week, so make sure to get your vote in early!

Johnny Monis, Komi. Oh, dreamy Johnny Monis. The brooding eyes. The attention to detail in the kitchen. The really kick ass roast pork with cracklins that I crave fortnightly. What’s not to love? “Johnny Monis is not only one of DC’s most creative and consistent chefs,” Itty Bitty Bitter Betty gushed, “he is handsome and makes a mean house-cured olive.”

Barton Seaver, formerly of Hook. Ever since he burst onto the DC dining scene with Hook, a modern seafood restaurant in Georgetown with a focus on sustainable fish, Barton Seaver has taken home the title of DC Chef pretty boy. I think I heard swoons about the “hot chef at that M street place” long before anyone talked to me about his fresh, unfussy recipes. Diners (especially of the female variety) are waiting with baited breath to hear about his next move in DC.

Teddy Folkman, Dr. Granville Moore’s. It may have been the mussels and frites that led Teddy to victory in the Bobby Flay Throwdown, but his disarming smile and easy humor have been charming patrons long before the episode aired (is that a dimple I spy under that 2-day scruff?). He’s also a remarkably generous person. One night at Granville’s Teddy overheard my admiring his Hoegaarden tshirt and wishing for one of my own. A few minutes later he reappeared (wearing anothers shirt) with his Hoegaarden garb nicely folded for me – right off his back. Teddy’s laid back personality and easy access to guilty pleasure frites (some of the best in the city, in my opinion) may give him a leg up on the competition although a straw poll of foodie friends indicates  Teddy may still be the Joey McIntyre to Barton’s Jordan Knight. Shares Stefanie Gans of Endless Simmer: “Although he’s left Hook, Barton’s definitely still in the running for the hottest chef in town. but without any food to back up his looks, I may have to go for the man that can serve me french fries with truffle aioli: Teddy.” Coffeeshopgirl agrees, “I think Barton Seaver wins on looks alone but if Teddy Folkman were to ply me with mussels and Belgian beer, I might switch over and vote him most crushable.”

Spike Mendelsohn, Good Stuff Eatery. The Top Chef season 4 contestant that everyone loved to hate (or just loved to love) and recent DC resident can still fire up a hot-or-not debate among a table of women. Anthony Bourdain once mused that Spike would do well in DC as he’s a natural politician. We think its really because he’s just a natural flirt. Spike’s biggest admirers have been with him since day 1. “The first time I saw him on Top Chef I thought he was the ‘hot one.’ But then he opened his mouth and I heard that easy combination of smart-ass, jerk, comedian and confident swagger, and I was in full swoon,” shared Alex of BrightestYoungThings.

Katsuya Fukushima, MiniBar and ThinkFoodGroup. I’m going to throw one out for the dark horse here.  Katsuya has been on his fair share of food shows (most recently spotted on No Reservations with Bourdain and backing Jose Andres on Iron Chef a few years back) but he comfortably takes the role of behind-the-scenes guy. Maybe its because of his (self-admitted but not apparent) fear of public speaking. Last summer he stepped down from his role leading Minibar to work on a range of concepts at the ThinkFoodGroup. Regardless, Katsuya’s Hawaii-rocker meets pirate-chef vibe is not to be overlooked. You may not expect a guy rocking hoop earrings and tats to be the master of salt foams and cirque-du-soliel culinary delights (although if you work in a kitchen, this wouldn’t look out of place either), but his presence at any meal adds to the presentation. And mostly he’s the kind of guy you want to have a beer with.