DC Central Kitchen is proud to present its signature fundraising event, the Capital Food Fight™ on November 16, 2017. The event draws over 1,000 guests to taste offerings from over 80 of DC’s best restaurants while watching four local top chefs compete in a live onstage battle hosted and judged by the biggest names in the culinary world.
2016 Battling Chefs
Chef Samuel Kim earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Maryland in 2002 before he found himself consumed with the idea of food and running his own restaurant.
When Kim made the decision to change careers, he walked into the kitchen of Washington, DC’s historic 1789 Restaurant and begged Executive Chef Ris Lacoste for a job. The 1789 kitchen served as his culinary school training, teaching Kim the basic techniques of cooking. Kim was later tapped as sous chef for Clyde’s Restaurant Group’s new Gallery Place location in November 2005.
In August 2007, Kim relocated to New York City to continue his culinary education cooking at Danny Meyer’s Michelin two-star rated restaurant, The Modern, helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Gabriel Kreuther.
In 2011, Kim was recruited by Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant Group to bring fresh talent to its Chelsea restaurant, Colicchio and Sons. Kim was pivotal in earning the restaurant the 2013 Trip Advisor award for the “Top Restaurant in the U.S.” and a ranking of “Number Two in the World.”
In June 2014, Clyde’s Restaurant Group tapped Kim to return to Washington, DC, to serve as Executive Chef of 1789 Restaurant, bringing him full circle to where his passion for cooking was first kindled.
A Baltimore native, Markert graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI before returning to the DC area. Markert brought his talents to many critically acclaimed Washington, DC area restaurants including Citronelle, Notti Bianche, Vermilion, and Tallula before assuming the role of Chef de Cuisine at Hook and PS7s. Markert’s focus on sustainable products and his refined creativity continue to inspire Beuchert’s Saloon’s central mantra: serving playful, flavor-rich cuisine deeply rooted in our community.
Chef Markert’s interest in local, sustainable products began as he grew in the kitchen, where he noticed a distinct difference between the freshness of ingredients sourced from nearby and those items shipped from further away. Markert creates an environment where his guests can feel good about dining out, knowing that the food they’re enjoying has roots in the community and the healthful benefits of small production, organic growth, and seasonality.
In his free time, Chef Drew bikes around the city and volunteers with local philanthropic organizations dedicated to enriching the District. Currently, Markert is spearheading a series of events called Forks Up, Guns Down, where culinary industry professionals and local businesses donate their time and products to sponsor events—the proceeds of which are donated gun violence prevention efforts. Chef Markert has taken part in the Share Our Strength campaign, committed to ending childhood hunger, and Gourmet Symphony, which creates multisensory music experiences by adding melodically compatible, locally-sourced cuisine to the classical concert performance.
Chef George Rodrigues started his culinary journey in Brazil, learning to love food while cooking with his family. He began college with the intention to become an engineer but one year before graduating he gave it up to pursue his culinary passion. After attending culinary school and cooking for a premier hotel in Curitiba, Brazil, George got an offer from a friend to spend some time in Chicago. He began working for Iron Chef Jose Garces at Mercat a la Planxa and quickly became a sous chef. It was at Mercat that George discovered his deep passion for Spanish food and Latin flavors.
Inspired by the possibility for growth opportunities, he moved to Boston to work for Chef Michael Schlow at his bold American restaurant influenced by Latin flavors, Tico. George quickly advanced from sous chef to chef, and during his tenure the restaurant won many awards including Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in America. Due to his incredible success George was chosen by Schlow to open and run the kitchen at his first DC outpost, Tico.
Hank’s Oyster Bar, Dupont
Chef Theary (Pronounced Terry) started young, at age 15, in the hospitality industry before realizing her calling was to be in the kitchen. Having grown up as a first generation American with Cambodian ancestry, much of her family’s love of food influenced her career path. Even as a child, her parents owned and operated a Cambodian grocery store.
Chef Theary completed her studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin before living throughout the United States and traveling worldwide for food.
It took many years of traveling and working through various cities and restaurants before Chef Theary settled in Washington, DC.
Chef Jamie Leeds and Theary So crossed paths at the Women, Chefs and Restauranteur’s organization and eventually Theary joined Hank’s Oyster Bar in Washington, DC, where she has been the Chef de Cuisine at Hank’s Dupont for the past 3 years.
2016 Hosts & Judges
Named as one of Time’s “100” Most Influential People and awarded “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup.
A pioneer of Spanish tapas in the United States, he is also known for his groundbreaking avant-garde cuisine and his award-winning group of restaurants that spans 21 concepts throughout the country in Washington, DC, Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He is a committed advocate of food and hunger issues and is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. This work has earned him awards and distinctions such as Outstanding American by Choice, awarded by President Barack Obama and the McCall-Pierpaoli humanitarian award. In 2015, he was named EY Master Entrepreneur of the Year in Greater Washington for his leadership and impact on the global business community.
After graduating from Culinary Institute of America in March 2005, Spike pursued and landed a job working for Thomas Keller at Bouchon in Napa Valley. Following his time at Bouchon, Spike moved to New York City to work at the famed Le Cirque. He later went on to work for Drew Nieporent, and then Chef Michael Huynh to open Michelin-starred restaurant, Mai House.
Spike’s full time passion remains his restaurants. He opened his first, Good Stuff Eatery, in Washington D.C. after his first appearance on “Top Chef,” and subsequently opened locations in Georgetown, Crystal City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Good Stuff Eatery will open in Saudi Arabia later this year. Next door to his original Good Stuff Eatery location is Spike’s second concept called We, The Pizza that also has a sister location in Arlington, VA. He added another restaurant to his “restaurant row” in Capitol Hill in the summer of 2013 when he opened a steak frites restaurant, Béarnaise.
Spike is committed to several community and food causes around the country including CARE and DC Central Kitchen. Earlier this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Spike the first chairman of D.C.’s Food Policy Council.
Duff Goldman is a chef, artist, entrepreneur and TV personality. Duff’s first major foray into television was on the hit Food Network show Ace of Cakes, which took place in his famed Baltimore bakery, Charm City Cakes. The show ran for ten seasons, achieving the rare feat of airing over 100 episodes. Duff is currently starring in several new shows on Food Network, including Cake Masters and the Baking Championship series.
Duff recently completed his second book, Duff Bakes, a follow up to the New York Times bestseller, Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes.
Duff opened his first business, Charm City Cakes, in Baltimore, Maryland in 2002. Building on the success of that venture, he opened Charm City Cakes West in Los Angeles in 2012. Inspired by his passion for facilitating creativity in others, Duff soon thereafter founded and developed Duff’s Cakemix, a DIY cake and cupcake decorating studio, also located in Los Angeles.
Through partnerships with Tylina Foods (Gartner Studios), Blue Bunny, JAKKS Pacific, Godiva and others, Duff launched a successful line of branded products, including cake mix, ice cream, and baking and decorating supplies. Duff-branded products can be found in Walmart, Target, Michaels and most major grocery chains nationwide.
Duff can be seen making appearances at food festivals, celebrations, and other major events around the country, including New York City Wine & Food Festival, South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBE), Feast Portland, the International Home + Housewares Show, and Life is Beautiful, among many others.
Rusty Hamlin is the executive chef for Zac Brown Brand and host of the renowned pre-concert dinner party, the “Eat & Greet,” and most recently the Southern Ground Tailgate on 18 Wheels.
Born in Baton Rouge, Rusty grew up steeped in Louisiana’s famed culinary culture, with jambalaya and gumbo among his go-to dishes. Rusty landed his first job as a line cook at Belle of Baton Rouge and shortly after was brought in to revamp the kitchen and menu at Atlanta’s Atkins Park. Rusty is now an owner and executive chef of Atkins Park in Smyrna, GA, with a menu that nods to his Cajun/Creole inspirations. His success with the restaurant’s revamp led him to start a suburban satellite location of Atkins Park, this time in Atlanta, which has now seen over a decade of success.
During this time, Rusty got to know Zac Brown, who was beginning to enjoy recognition as a local musician. As charismatic, larger-than-life southern men who appreciate music, food, and the culture that unites the two elements, the two quickly became good friends.
This is when the seeds were planted for the roving culinary adventure – the Zac Brown Band “Eat & Greet.” With their 50-foot mobile kitchen “Cookie” in tow, the “Eat & Greet” offered the band’s biggest fans great food in an intimate setting before each show.
Rusty supported the newly launched Z. Alexander Brown wine in 2016 Rusty hosted a wine tasting event for VIPs before each show, pairing wines with his culinary creations.
In 2016 Rusty also led the Southern Ground Tailgate for over 1,000 of Zac Brown Band’s most loyal fans in Alpine Valley, WI and Hershey, PA. Billed as the largest tailgate on 18 wheels, Chef Rusty prepared his down-home, Louisiana favorites for the hordes of pre-show tailgaters and his excitement and skill at the grill made these tailgates the perfect follow-up to the previous “Eat & Greets.”
Michael Voltaggio is the owner/chef of Los Angeles’ acclaimed ink. and artisanal sandwich concept Sack Sandwiches. Beginning his career at 15, Voltaggio earned the prestigious Greenbrier apprenticeship at the age of 19, and went on to helm the kitchens at Dry Creek Kitchen and The Bazaar by José Andrés. Celebrated for having reinterpreted a new class of finer dining at ink. – which received the title of GQ’s “Best New Restaurant in America” 2011 – Voltaggio has been recognized as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2013, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef, and hosted the Travel Channel series Breaking Borders.