You know something good is going on when a restaurant has been open six years and its chef earns five nominations for James Beard Foundation Best Chef Mid-Atlantic during that time. No wonder reviewers shower accolades on Todd Gray and Equinox in Washington, DC. A native of Fredericksburg, VA, Gray is a Culinary Institute of America grad who worked in some of Los Angeles' finest kitchens (Citrus, Patina, L'Orangerie) before spending seven years as the first—and only— American chef de cuisine at Roberto Donna's Galileo in DC. Wife/partner Ellen Gray is the general manager and hostess extraordinare at Equinox.
Look at these packs. Did you just get back from a big hike?
No, but we're heading out on one after this photo shoot.
What's your destination?
Rock Creek Park. It's close to our house in downtown DC.
The dogs look ready.
Rock Creek's full of trails, and there are great streams for the dogs, too. We let them off the leash in certain places.
Are these big walks a regular event?
We do them mostly on Sundays, my day off.
What's on the breakfast menu before you take off?
Fresh fruit like raspberries and figs, some V-8 juice, hearts of celery and toasted cashews.
Heart of celery?
Yes, like a crudite. Just the tender inner leaves.
Who's eating all the soy products here?
My wife, Ellen. She's a vegetarian. I'll have some, too, but I need a good dipping sauce.
What are some favorite sauces?
This Blue Smoke BBQ sauce, from Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke in New York City, is excellent. So is this Smith & Wollensky steak sauce.
Ever make your own sauces?
Sure. You need the right mayonnaise. I'll take some Hellmann's and add fresh tarragon from our herb garden. It's good on these tofu hot dogs.
What are other Gray family favorites?
We're sandwich people. One we love is sauteed quesadillas with tomatoes and mozzarella.
Sounds delicious—and easy to make.
Another is grilled cheese made with artisan gouda cheese. We'll dip that one in maple syrup.
Grilled cheese and maple syrup? Sounds...different.
Try it. We use organic maple syrup from Vermont.
It looks like you're both wine drinkers, too.
Ellen goes for sauvignon blanc, chablis and sancerre. For me, it's pinot, cabernets and Italian barolos. I like something with a chunkier flavor.
Ever cook meat at home?
For me? Sure. We get local grass-fed beef and pork from the Dupont Farmers Market. I'll grill it; the boys get the scraps.
Introduce us to your dogs.
The darker one is Augie. He's named after August Escoffier. The other one is Zeus.
They're handsome animals. Big, too. We bet you don't worry much about break-ins at your house.
No. These two boys are a great alarm system.
Yeah, I'd hate to be a grass-fed robber trying to steal from your place!
White Wave Tofu