Taste of the Nation DC

Share Our Strength did a really smart thing a while back. They decided that in order to accomplish their mission of ending childhood hunger, they’d get super-passionate chefs to create amazing small dishes for a venue filled with food lovers. For these people, it is all about the food, so who better to target for a cause that aims to bring food to everyone?

Taste of the Nation happens in many cities throughout the country, and this year I was a member of the Sponsorship Committee for Taste of the Nation DC. I helped to secure beverage sponsorship for the event, and made sure that the beverage sponsors had what they needed for the night on-site. Once everything was set up and all of the garbage cans and napkins were dolled out correctly, I was able to walk around and enjoy the food!

First stop was Volt where I tasted smoked short ribs, a Beet and Foie Gras Macaroon (foie gras was carefully injected into each macaroon), plus a Nitrogen Frozen Coconut with Vanilla and Lavender, served and hand-frozen by Chef Bryan Voltaggio himself.

Blue Duck Tavern made a huge statement with a sea of cobalt blue Le Creuset French ovens, which were home to rich and tender servings of cassoulet.

Hill Country showed off their social media savvy via a chalkboard listing and paired the casual feel with no-fuss brisket and a refreshing cucumber salad. Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak served handsome and salty Ricotta Tarts with Asparagus and Ham.

The soon-to-be-opened Rouge 24 made a statement with spoonfuls of frozen Chicken Liver Parfait with Corn Textures and Vanilla Cotton Candy, and the restaurant’s Chef R.J. Cooper acted as Chef Chair for the evening. One of my favorite bites of the night came from Chef Susur Lee’s Zentan; melt-in-your-mouth Shanghai Braised Short Rib with Crispy Shallots and Sour Cream. So amazing.

Under swirly pink lights came Charlie Palmer Steak’s Braised Short Ribs with Marcona Almonds and Pickled Ramps, and Chef Art Smith’s Art and Soul team laid out Pressed Terrine with Pickled Mustard Seed and Shaved Scallion on wooden boards. Thank you to Executive Chef Wes Morton for holding my program so I could snap a photo of the terrine!

BLT Steak offered an incredibly savory Skirt Steak Roulade with Manchego, Charred Onion and Chimichurri, and cooked all of their steak on-site as the supply depleted. Chef Ben of Room 11 was chatting with guests throughout the night and served Tunisian Spiced Meatballs with Harissa and Raita, which had a ton of spicy zing.

The drinks at the event were phenomenal, and all thanks to the incredible beverage sponsors and talented mixologists from various local restaurants and bars. From left to right: Rachel Sergi from Bourbon made a fantastic cocktail with Veev Acai Spirit topped with Vita Coco coconut foam; Mixologist Chair Gina Chersevani from PS 7’s concocted a whimsical lemon sherbet-based ice cream float with Finlandia Vodka; and Bourbon Steak’s Duane Sylvestre made an creamsicle-tasting foamy drink with Cointreau.

The highlight of the night was the Creekstone Farms Master Chef Showdown, where three talented chefs competed to make a dish featuring flank steak in just 30 minutes. From left to right: Chef Victor Albisu of BLT Steak, Chef Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana and Chef Peter Smith of PS 7’s.

Chef Stefanelli won with Potato Rosti and Hay-Smoked Steak Topped with Soft-Cooked Eggs (he brought the hay himself!) and was given a $5,000 check from Creekstone to present to Share Our Strength.

Of course no matter how many bites there are in a night, there is always room for dessert. Sweet endings were provided by Best Buns with mini red velvet cupcakes, and the swirly stuff was provided by Pinkberry complete with a slew of fun toppings.

An enormous shout out to all of the chefs, mixologists and culinary teams who stood on their feet for hours in the name of preventing childhood hunger; I am so proud to have been a part of Taste of the Nation DC! To learn more about Share Our Strength and their amazing programs around the country, check out the SOS website.

-M

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