If our math is correct, Alice Waters’ Sunday Night Suppers helped to raise more than $100,000 for the DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table for the second year in a row. The 15 all-star dinner parties were limited to 20 guests each, and they featured some of Washington’s best and most established chefs. But they weren’t the only way to help support these great causes this time around.
In an effort to engage the next generation of savvy and (hopefully) active foodies, Waters and company organized a pre-game called Sunday Night Sips.
Everything about this luxe cocktail reception was planned with a younger audience in mind, from the scaled-back price point to the collection of up-and-coming chefs whose dishes were featured to the high-end cocktails poured by three of DC’s finest craft bartenders.
We were invited to tag along and document the event, and we eagerly accepted. What awaited us in hosts Greg Nelson and Jose Cunningham’s beautiful home was three floors of food and drink that were designed to impress. Whether it was Will Artley’s BLT Gnocchi (a favorite we’ve ordered at Evening Star Cafe) or Owen Thompson’s Tequila Milk Punch, each taste packed a flavorful punch.
The evening in images (Who am I kidding? There are plenty of words, too) after the jump.
The first thing we learned? The guys from Good Stuff Eatery are TOTALLY holding out on DC. That Blazin’ Barn burger on their menu is just a taste of the Vietnamese flavors that Spike, Colletti and Brian can turn out.
Spike was front and center downstairs, all smiles as he handed out plate after plate of lemongrass and hoisin-braised pork belly with spicy pickled cucumbers.
Brian Lacayo’s scallop crudo with blood orange, radish, chili salt and nuoc cham was damn near perfect.
And Mike Colletti – who was billed as the chef of We, The Pizza (Good Stuff’s soon-to-open next-door neighbor) – was dishing up a stunner of a cold soup: coconut milk, pandan and parsnip with a chunk of butter-poached lobster.
Additional passed hors d’oeuvres included smoked salmon atop a sweet potato chip with cilantro-almond pesto from Barton Seaver; goat cheese, fig and pomegranate flatbread from Allison Sosna; and squares of vanilla cheesecake with tangerine marmelade from Heather Chittum. Seaver is the chef at Blue Ridge in Glover Park and he’s in the process of opening Diamond District Seafood Company on 14th Street. Sosna serves as head chef of DC Central Kitchen’s Fresh Start Catering program, and Heather Chittum is the award-winning pastry chef at Hook in Georgetown.
Nathan Anda’s Red Apron Butchery – another favorite of ours – provided a selection of artisanal charcuterie, and Good Taste Marketing offered up an array of delicious goat and cow’s milk butters and cheeses.
The bar, as you might expect, was a flurry of activity. Gina Chersevani was mixing her “Chili Lady.” Kashmiri Chili gives the drink a nice bite to temper the sweetness of Stoli Gala Applik, and the whole thing clocks in at roughly 100 calories. This is just one of Gina’s four new low-cal, high-taste cocktails she has rolled out at PS7’s.
Owen’s aforementioned Milk Punch blended milk with tequila, grapefruit, lime and elderflower liqueur…a natural combo, right? Even Owen admitted that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it work until the morning of the event. It worked just fine.
And Dan Searing was sporting a tartan as he mixed up the Bobby Burns, a playful nod to Scotland’s national bard whose birthday was Monday. Dewars 12, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, benedictine and a twist come together in a smooth but potent combination.
It wasn’t all about indulgence, though. Author and organizer Joan Nathan, Alice Waters, Lindsey Buss (Martha’s Table) and Robert Egger (DCCK) all spoke about the important role that young consumers play in carrying on the “delicious revolution” and supporting programs like these that help to feed those in need throughout the city. They also introduced Nina Vizcarrondo and Julie Kohn to talk about “Hungry in America,” a documentary debuting at the Sundance Film Festival.
Toward the end of the evening, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer stopped by to support the cause and sample the chef’s dishes. The last thing we learned? Blitzer’s got a fondness for milkshakes. But then again, who doesn’t?