Four local top chefs will compete in a culinary battle hosted and judged by some of the biggest names in the culinary world.

Celebrity Appearances

 


Spike Mendelsohn
Host
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Spike’s career, spanning nearly three decades, can be described as nothing short of creatively diverse. From chef and restaurateur to television personality, product developer and consultant, Spike is a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Spike worked with some of the world’s most renowned chefs and restaurateurs such as Gerard Boyer, Thomas Keller, Sirio Maccioni and Drew Nieporent. After making his television debut on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, Spike went on to appear on several other cooking-related shows, including Life After Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Late Night Chef Fight and Beat Bobby Flay. He also hosted Midnight Feast and Food Network’s Kitchen Sink.

In 2008, Spike opened up the first restaurant in his culinary empire on Washington DC’s Capitol Hill: Good Stuff Eatery. His burger joint quickly became a favorite of political elites, including President Barack Obama. This success inspired a cookbook (The Good Stuff Cookbook) and multiple locations across the country and overseas. Following the opening of Good Stuff Eatery, Spike opened up We, The Pizza, Béarnaise and Santa Rosa Taqueria. Outside of his restaurants, Spike’s popular DC speakeasy (The Sheppard) has paved the way for a second concept called The Morris.

Applying his experience and expertise as a chef and restaurateur, Spike has worked with several brands by providing them with creative and comprehensive culinary consulting services. His consulting projects include Sunny’s and Campton Yard in Miami Beach and the highly anticipated state-of-the-art sports and active entertainment center, The St. James, in Virginia.

In an effort to put his passion for food equity and education into action, Spike began working with organizations like CARE and DC Central Kitchen as a chef ambassador and contributor. His work landed him the position as the first chairman of DC’s Food Policy Council. He has used his voice to speak out about improving the quality of school lunches, equal access to whole and healthy foods and for the protection of the SNAP program. Spike continues to partner with groups like Food Rescue US and Food Policy Action to make a positive impact on our food system.

Spike lives in the DC area with his wife, Cody, and their son. When he’s not in the kitchen or lobbying on The Hill, Spike can be found surfing any river or ocean that has a wave.


 

José Andrés
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Twice named to Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list, and awarded “Outstanding Chef” and “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, New York Times best-selling author, educator, television personality, humanitarian, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. A pioneer of Spanish tapas in America, he is known for his avant-garde cuisine and award-winning group of 31 restaurants throughout the country and beyond, including four total Michelin stars at minibar by José Andrés in Washington, DC and Somni in Beverly Hills. He is the founder of the non-profit World Central Kitchen, which has earned global respect for its chef-driven humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

 


 

Eric Adjepong
Judge

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Chef Eric Adjepong is the chef/owner of On the Double, a Caribbean-style roti shop coming to Washington, D.C. later this year. He also leads a series of virtual cooking classes centered on West African cuisine and food of the Afrian diaspora. He was a finalist on season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef and a contestant on season 17 of Top Chef All-Stars, where he earned consistent acclaim from judges and popularity among viewers. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American born and raised in New York City, Adjepong sources the flavors and influences in his cooking from many of the West African dishes he grew up eating. He is passionate about introducing diners to West African cuisine and the impact its diaspora has had on South American, Latin American, Caribbean, and American food, all in his elegant, artfully plated style. 
 
Adjepong previously cooked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York after graduating with degrees in culinary arts and nutrition from Johnson & Wales, one of the country’s premiere culinary universities. He also holds a Master of Public Health in International Public Health Nutrition from the University of Westminster in London. 

 


 

Ris Lacoste
Judge
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Ris Lacoste is one of the most respected and dedicated chefs working in Washington D.C. today. She has earned her reputation built upon high-quality ingredients, bold innovative technique, and food that is both familiar and simply delicious.  

A James Beard nominated chef, Ris Lacoste is chef and owner of her West End DC bistro, RIS.  Learning her craft from the famed Anne Willan at her Paris culinary school, Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, Ris returned stateside and started a long, rewarding relationship with Chef Bob Kinkead.  The Harvest in Cambridge, MA, 21 Federal in Nantucket, MA, Twenty-One Federal in Washington DC, Kinkead’s American Brasserie and finally 1789 Restaurant all brought her to the door step of her own restaurant, RIS. Her innovative regional American fare drew national and local attention and earned her numerous awards.  RIS is proud to be recommended in the Michelin Guide DC as one of DC’s top restaurants.  Ris was a pe-med student at the University of Rochester and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in French Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. 

Lacoste is also well known for her commitment to community involvement. She actively participates in all fundraising efforts in the District.  She currently sits on the advisory board of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, The Kitchen Cabinet; she is a member of the Foggy Bottom West End Village Board of Directors; she is on the Executive Committee of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW); she is a commissioner of the Mayor’s Commission on Night Life and Culture; and is a member of the Women’s Forum of Washington DC as well as Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Les Dames d’Escoffier.  She is also a member of the board of Fresh Farm Markets as well as a member of Camp CEO with the Girl Scouts National Capital Council.   She recently was honored as one of the Class of 2015 DC’s Most Powerful Women from Washingtonian Magazine and is a member of Leadership Greater Washington’s Class of 2017.  She was a long time board member of DC Central Kitchen as well as The Hospitality Charter High School of Washington DC. She was an active member of the National Board of Directors for the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) and served as Chairman of its National Capital Area Chapter.  Lacoste is also a talented educator committed to young people.  Her kitchen is filled with passionate students learning their craft. 

Beyond the kitchen, Lacoste’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a local famers’ market, hunting down the freshest fruits and vegetables and creating relationships with her farmers. These markets are not only a source of inspiration for her cuisine, but a meeting point to talk about the importance of investment in the local community and dedication to the ideals of local and sustainable farming. 


 

Ryan Zimmerman
Judge
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More than anyone, Ryan Zimmerman personified the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series title. Ryan’s journey began in 2005 as the franchise’s first-ever draft pick, fourth overall out of the nearby University of Virginia. He made his big-league debut in the same year and has truly embodied what it means to be a National. Over the past 15 years, Ryan has accumulated two All-Star selections, a Gold Glove award and two Silver Slugger awards. He has 11 walk-off home runs for the Nationals, tying him for eighth all-time. In sum, the Washington Nationals have never known a life without Ryan Zimmerman.

Ryan has been married to his wife, Heather, for the past seven years and together they have two daughters and a son. Just as important to him is his mom Cheryl, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1995 and has been confined to a wheelchair since 2000.

In 2006, Zimmerman began his ZiMS Foundation, raising funds and awareness in the fight to stop MS, which affects as many as 2.5 million people worldwide. The foundation has raised more than $3.5 million so far through the help of annual benefit events such as A Night At the Park.


 

Tommy McFly
Co-Emcee
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If the Washington Post is right – and Tommy McFly is the “local Ryan Seacrest” – then he’s the multi-platform voice, anchor, and host for the world’s most powerful city and its media ambassador to the rest of the nation. An only child Gemini, rescue dog-loving millennial, originally from Scranton, PA, Tommy is always on the move around Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.

Tommy McFLY’s unique blend of social responsibility and community engagement – and peerless ability to connect with people – has even received the notice of the Obama White House. Aside from daily morning broadcast on “The Tommy Show” and NBC4 TV duties McFLY is the only person in history to emcee the White House Easter Egg Roll.

He is, as Cathy Alter of The Washington Post Magazine called him, “a prince of DC media.” But the better title might just be DC’s most sought after, trusted friend.

Download The Tommy Show App at TommyShow.com/APP or just say “Alexa, Enable The Tommy Show.”


 

Kelly Collis
Co-Emcee
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Kelly Collis is a native Washingtonian and has been working in the DC area for over 20 years. Today, she is a broadcaster and entrepreneur. She co-founded a one of a kind broadcast company with her long time colleague and now business partner, Tommy McFly.  Additionally, she and Tommy broadcast live each weekday morning show via an app, Alexa and Google Home discussing all things DC and playing great music – Real. Fun DC.  Prior, she and Tommy hosted a morning show on terrestrial radio, 94.7 Fresh FM in Washington, DC for 8 years. She also founded CityShopGirl, a subscription email publication delivering updates on lifestyle in the D.C. area, and was nominated for one of the best blogs by the Washingtonian Magazine.

Washington Life named her one of the top 200 influencers under 40 in DC for 3 years in a row and was on the cover of Washington Family Magazine and most recently named one of the “Women of Style” by DC Modern Luxury Magazine.

Prior to launching CityShopGirl, Kelly worked as Director of Marketing for National Jean Company, a nation wide women’s retailer. Kelly was also a partner at DBC Public Relations for five years where she counseled both private and public companies in the consumer and media sectors. She graduated with a BA in economics from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and began her career to work on Capitol Hill for a few members of Congress.

She loves spending time with her husband and children, her 2 dogs, shopping, spin classes, following Washington sports teams, especially the Washington Nationals and drinking wine at sporting events or any other time.


 

DJ Neekola
Top 40/Dance Superstar DJ
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Celebrity DJ Neekola has been known for rocking the house internationally over the past fifteen years of her career.

DJ Neekola is without a doubt the it-girl DJ and Washington D.C.’s most sought-after DJ who spins the best of all genres and always from behind her signature bedazzled laptop.

You can catch her at top corporate events and private parties including events like the White House Correspondents Dinner Afterparty by MSNBC, Tomorrowland Festival, Burning Man, on board an international Brussels Airlines jet en route to Brussels, Belgium, the Rammys for five years in a row, Amazon Web Services and so much more. She is a favorite of the Marriott, as she has been traveling around the world to perform for their national and international conferences.

Combining her vast understanding of the ever-changing musical genres with her kinetic technical sets, Neekola creates a custom experience tailored to fill all dance floors to their limit. Known for several abilities — she is able to read a room and keep the dance floor packed for international and generational crowds, keeping energy high and the party rocking until the last beat drops.

More celebrities to be announced!

Battling Chefs


 

Angel Barreto
Anju
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For Angel Barreto, food has always been associated with happy memories, and it’s why he first pursued a career in the culinary arts; he wanted to impact people and the most important moments of their lives with food. He attended L’Academie De Cuisine and studied French fare in great depth, and upon graduating, he worked at Vermilion with Anthony Chittum. This opportunity gave him ample first hand experience with farm to table food and sustainable cooking, however, due to his immense passion for Asian cuisine, he decided to join the team at The Source by Wolf-gang Puck. Under the mentorship of Scott Drewno, Barreto worked his way up from cook to sous chef to executive sous chef in only five and a half years. Currently, he’s the Executive Chef at Anju, and he was recently nominated as a semifinalist for the “Rising Star Chef” category by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.


 

Paolo Dungca
Peter Chang Restaurant Group
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Chef Paolo began his culinary career in Southern California, where he worked alongside Chef Kevin Meehan’s then-concept Kali Dining (now Kali Restaurant). He has lived in the DMV area for the past six years and worked at many influential restaurants in the DC area: as opening sous chef at Bad Saint with Chef Tom Cunanan, and alongside Chef Cathal Armstrong as chef de cuisine at Restaurant Eve then at Kaliwa. In the winter of 2019, he opened ABC Pony as head chef with Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, with the focus on serving Asian-inflected rustic Italian fare. A native of the Philippines with a passion for Asian pantry, he joins Peter Chang Restaurant Group alongside Chef Pichet Ong as part of the R&D team. Over the past six years, he gained invaluable experience in classic French cuisine, upscale Filipino and Asian cuisine, fine dining, and his favorite endeavor—making and experimenting with pastas.


 

Peter Prime
Cane
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Peter Prime is a Chef, restaurant owner, and a sincere believer in the ability of food to bring joy. Chef Peter was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, moved to the US for college where he earned a degree in hospitality management, and later graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Chef Peter’s restaurants draw on his diverse background to bring a unique experience to guests. His menus reflect the cuisine of his native Trinidad and are thus heavily influenced by the cultures and flavors of Africa, India, Europe, and East Asia. To these dishes, Chef Peter brings his rigorous training in classical French techniques; skillsets honed throughout some of the finest French, Italian, and Austrian kitchens in DC; and top-notch hospitality learnt by way of his time with the well-respected Hillstone Restaurant Group.


 

Shannan Troncoso
Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen
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Born to a large Italian-American family in Kansas City, MO, Shannan gravitated to the culinary arts as a very young child when she would cook alongside her grandmother. During grade-school, Shannan’s family relocated to Valdosta, GA, a small town just north of the Florida border. It was there that Shannan first became exposed to an appreciation for food that inspired her to pursue a career as a chef. Growing up in the South allowed her to cultivate an appreciation for the strong food traditions and rich ingredients that the region has to offer, which informs her approach to cooking to this day.

After high school, Shannan moved to Athens, GA and obtained a Bachelors of Science in Community Health and Wellness. This degree allowed her to study nutrition and the effects food has on our bodies. Athens’ progressive culinary scene enabled Shannan to gain important experience in a variety of kitchens while pursuing her undergraduate degree.

After graduation, Shannan moved to Colorado to attend the Culinary Arts School at the Art Institute of Colorado. Shannan focused her course of study on the theory and technical execution of classic and modern French techniques. While in school, Shannan worked at a number of restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast casual. Upon completing her culinary degree, Shannan settled in as a Sous Chef at Aix, a fine dining French restaurant in Denver, CO. In a few short months, Shannan was promoted to Chef de Cuisine.

In 2009, Shannan joined the up and coming Matchbox Food Group to help open the Capitol Hill location. During her tenure there, she helped the restaurant group expand to a Washington, DC culinary powerhouse, including the conception of Ted’s Bulletin, a successful upscale American diner concept.

In January 2014, Shannan left Matchbox Food Group to pursue her goal of owning her own restaurant. With partners Tony Tomelden and John Solomon, Shannan opened Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen, a chef-driven neighborhood restaurant offering Shannan’s take on classic American cuisine.

Since its opening in 2014, Brookland’s Finest has garnered a loyal neighborhood following and critical acclaim for its thoughtful approach to American comfort food with Italian and Southern influences. She has infused the menu with family recipes, and hosts weekly dinners highlighting local brewers, distillers and wineries.

Shannan lives in the H Street NE neighborhood and enjoys spending time with her family as well as trying the new restaurants in DC’s burgeoning culinary scene.

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