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D.C.’s Most-Celebrated Chefs Support Marriage Equality

by Doug Rule
Thursday Oct 18, 2012

Want to know the percentage of D.C. chefs supporting marriage equality?

Among those chefs food writer David Hagedorn asked to be part of Chefs for Equality, at least, it's a universal 100 percent. ''To be honest, I wondered what I would do if I came across someone who didn't want to participate for political reasons,'' Hagedorn says, ''but there was none of that.'' In the end, a vast majority of D.C.'s most celebrated chefs, including Jose Andres, Jeff Black, Cathal Armstrong, Jamie Leeds, Michel Richard and Kaz Okochi, are participating at Hagedorn's dining and auction event with the Human Rights Campaign, set for Wednesday, Oct. 24. Proceeds from the event will go toward the LGBT organization's work for marriage equality in Maryland. The state's governor, Martin O'Malley, is the event's featured guest. Fashion celebrity Tim Gunn will serve as emcee.

The event is centered on a theme of marriage, or a joining together. That includes a unity between food and fashion, with designers donating ''wedding-worthy fashions'' for auction and pastry chefs creating whimsical wedding cakes as part of the decor, directed by Amaryllis Floral + Event Design.

Leading area bartenders, or mixologists, will create libations to go with the food, offered at upward of 30 tasting stations. Hagedorn also incorporated the unity theme by asking nine chefs to team up with a peer for a five-course menu to be prepared for a table of eight. These ''personal chefs tables'' are available now for online bidding.

But that's only the main event at the Ritz-Carlton. Hagedorn has also organized a more affordable option, an after-party at Graffiato Restaurant. ''I absolutely wanted a way for people who might not be able to afford $300 to be able to support in another way,'' he says. Several chefs, including Graffiato's Mike Isabella, will prepare small plates at the after-party, which at $50 each also grants participants a selection of specialty cocktails from area mixologists. Meanwhile, a different kind of mixologist, DJ Shea Van Horn, will provide the music at both events.

''The chef community in Washington is really like no other I've seen,'' says Hagedorn, once a local chef himself. ''The restaurants compete with each other, of course, but they help each other out, they support each other's events. They're very generous.''

Chefs for Equality is Wednesday, Oct. 24, starting at 6:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW, with the after-party at 10 p.m. at Graffiato Restaurant, 707 6th St. NW. Tickets are $300 for the main event, $50 for the after-party. Visit

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