Tonight I went to the Sommelier Showdown at the Washington, DC International Food & Wine Festival (IWFF) that is taking place at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (ITC) through February 9. Advertised was a tasting of DC chefs and that pretty much defines the ubiquitious Tood Gray of Equinox and Xavier Deshayes of the Reagan Center who delivered the tasty accompaniments to the wine and spirits around the Center’s pavilion.
While the somms (that’s the cool way to say sommeliers) were doing the blind tasting routine, I found the real action going on in the kitchen … and it wasn’t just Gray and Deshayes making it all happen. A dedicated culinary team from the Center kept the food rolling out the kitchen with full throttle assistance from the latest class of Cohn’s Kitchen. You’ve read about the training effort of Paul J. Cohn and Elizabeth B. Scott in Foodservice Monthly before. Cohn’s Kitchen is a DC based 501c non-profit whose mission is to provide restaurant and culinary job training and workforce development to under-served and underprivileged DC young adults.
Founded by restaurateur Cohn and entrepreneur Scott, Cohn’s Kitchen serves to educate, empower and develop young adults in the District of Columbia as the next generation of culinary and restaurant professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs.
Assisting in the kitchen tonight (see foto above) were back row: Rashad Kemp, ITC Executive Sous Chef Craig McMullen and in the front row:
Michael Kemp, Equinox chef/partner Todd Gray, Doneisha Jackson, Kevin Kemp, Jerrod Bradford, Tytricia Hinson.
This year’s IWFF will donate a portion of proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction to help Cohn’s Kitchen create these needed opportunities within the community.You can go to the live online auction by clicking here.
If you have an aptitude for puzzles and a love of wine, you can configure a ticket packages or sign up for a la carte events while finding more information, click onto www.wineandfooddc.com ... it is worth the effort to help Cohn's Kitchen.
Just so you know, we do have a winner ... RIS sommelier Leah Cheston beat out the other six wine experts including last year's winner Brent Kroll from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Other somms in the competition included Will Murck, BLT Steak; Kate Alexander, Del Frisco's; Travis Gray, Equinox; Andrew Howells, The Pig and John Coco, The Kennedy Center.