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.


 

Tom Colicchio
Judge
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Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes restaurants in New York, Long Island, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Tom made his New York cooking debut at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001.

In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Tom served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Tom has established himself as the leading “Citizen Chef” advocating for a food system that values access, affordability and nutrition over corporate interests.

Tom and his restaurants give back to the community through their impact partnership with FEAST and by serving on the boards of Children of Bellevue, City Harvest, and Wholesome Wave.


 

Maneet Chauhan
Judge
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Maneet Chauhan is an award-winning chef, author, television personality and founding partner and president of Morph Hospitality Group in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a recipient of the 2012 James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Award for her role as a permanent judge on Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Born in Punjab, India, chef Chauhan worked in some of the country’s finest hotels before moving to the U.S. to study at the Culinary Institute of America. She went on to work as executive chef in some of New York City and Chicago’s top restaurants, which received national acclaim under her leadership. After relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, Chauhan and her husband, Vivek Deora, co-founded Morph Hospitality Group, opening their first restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House in 2014. With the goal of filling gaps in Nashville’s culinary landscape, the group opened Tansuo, a Chinese concept, and The Mockingbird, a global diner, in 2017, and Chaatable, a nostalgic Indian street food concept in 2018. Chef Chauhan is also a co-founder of Hop Springs, home to the state’s largest craft brewery and a fun-filled 84 acre beer park located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Chauhan is the author of two cookbooks, Flavors of My World and her most recent, Chaat: The Best Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India, which was released in October 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter, the book was inspired by Maneet’s epic cross-country railroad expedition that brought her to local markets, street vendors and the homes of family & friends. Chaat has been recognized as one of Fall 2020’s most anticipated cookbooks and has appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Food Network Magazine, and more.

A leader in the Nashville community, Chauhan has been honored as one of the Nashville Business Journal’s “40 under 40”, which highlights young, successful business leaders and was recognized in Nashville Lifestyles’ Women in Business, which showcases local women who are at the top of their respective industries. In March 2020, Chauhan founded Hospitality Strong, a nonprofit benefitting hospitality workers in need and currently serves as an advisory board member for Nashville’s COVID-19 Response Fund, founded to assist individuals, families and nonprofits experiencing financial hardship due to the virus.

When she’s not in the kitchen or traveling, chef Chauhan can be found at home in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, Vivek Deora, their daughter, Shagun, and their son, Karma.


 

Andrew Zimmern
Judge
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Andrew Zimmern is an Emmy-winning and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and social justice advocate. As the creator, executive producer and host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods franchise, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food and Emmy-winning The Zimmern List, he has devoted his life to exploring and promoting cultural acceptance, tolerance and understanding through food. In 2020, Andrew returned to television with his MSNBC series What’s Eating America, and in 2021, he premiered Family Dinner on Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network. In 2022, Andrew Zimmern’s Wild Game Kitchen will premiere on the Outdoor Channel. All three shows were created by Intuitive Content, the full-service television and digital production company that Andrew heads as both founder and CEO. In 2021, Intuitive Content was named one of the top 100 production companies in the world by Realscreen. Andrew is also the founder and CEO of Passport Hospitality, a restaurant and food service development company. He is passionate about his philanthropic endeavors and sits on the board of directors of Services for the UnderServed, Project Explorer/EXPLR, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and Soigne Hospitality. He serves on City Harvest’s Food Council, is the International Rescue Committee’s Voice for Nutrition and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nation’s World Food Programme. Andrew is also a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, fighting to save restaurants affected by Covid-19. He resides in Minneapolis.


 

Kristen Kish
Judge
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Kristen Kish was born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI. She showed an affinity for cooking at a young age. Her mother suggested she go to culinary school and since attending Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, Kish has never looked back.

After moving to Boston, Kish worked in many high-profile restaurants including Michelin-star Chef Guy Martin’s Sensing and Barbara Lynch’s Stir as Chef de Cuisine, overseeing all back of house operations, including the design and execution of nightly menus and demonstration dinners for 10 guests. Kish competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 10 where she won the coveted title. She went on to become Chef de Cuisine of Menton, Chef Barbara Lynch’s fine dining restaurant. She left this position in 2014 to travel the world and write a cookbook.

Kish was co-host of “36 Hours,” a Travel Channel show that partnered with The New York Times to bring the hit newspaper column to television. In each episode, co-hosts Kish and Kyle Martino arrived in a new city where they had 36 hours to explore the most delicious foods and hot spots, and experienced the best attractions unique to each place.

In October 2017, Kish launched her first cookbook – Kristen Kish Cooking.

Kish partnered with LINE Hotels in 2018 to launch her first restaurant, Arlo Grey. The restaurant reflects Kristen’s playful yet refined cuisine pulling inspiration from a French and Italian cooking background paired with a nostalgia of dishes from her upbringing to her love of travel that helped her gain an outlook on how people cook to tell their story.  

Currently, Kish co-hosts a new TV series – “Fast Foodies” –on TruTV, focuses on brand partnerships, charitable work, and has several more television and cooking projects in the works. 


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


 

Oji Abbott

Oohs & Ahhs

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Oji Abbott, a native Washingtonian, grew a love for his craft in his grandmother’s kitchen from a very young age. His vision to revive an American cultural cuisine became a reality with the success of a brand created for a unique appeal to a society driven to “healthy eating habits.” Chef “O” redefined the original American Cuisine soulful, tasty flavor without pork products, and minus the meat or meat by-products in the vegetables.

In 2003, Chef “O” became the Founder, Executive Chef, and Co-Owner of Oohh’s & Aahh’s Soul Food Restaurant located in DC on the Greater U Street Historic Corridor. A second DC restaurant opened on the Georgia Avenue Walmart complex in 2017.

He enrolled at Stratford University in 1999 and completed his course of study at the School for Culinary Arts. He has over twenty years of professional cooking and kitchen management experience. His areas of expertise include Executive Chef Designation and Executive Sous-Chef. His knowledge and ability to maximize kitchen productivity and commitment to quality customer service are verifiable records of achievement.

To meet the demands of government agencies, private industry, and smaller gatherings, Chef “O” has successfully extended services to cater food at various events. He is skillful in menu planning and other critical elements of food service, assuring quality control to minimize waste.

Various awards from leading authorities associated with the food industry are recognition of his outstanding achievements. The publics’ appeal is a source of the many commendations of noted praise published in printed media.

• Oohh’s & Aahh’s is consistently selected to receive the “Cheap Eats” and “Best Macaroni and Cheese “awards presented by the Washingtonian Magazine since 2003.
• A survey conducted by The City Newspaper designated Oohh’s & Aahh’s as the “Best Soul Food Restaurant” in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in 2011 and 2012
• The Zagat Food & Restaurant Service Survey rates Oohh’s & Aahh’s as “Excellent” since 2008.
• In 2005 and 2006, he represented Oohh’s & Aahh’s at the “Food for your Health” Expo sponsored by NBC TV 4. He was also an exhibitor at Bloomingdale’s “Black History Month” Expo in February 2009.
• In July 2010, the Food Network Cable show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” hosted by Chef Guy Fieri, Oohh’s & Aahh’s was broadcast worldwide as a featured guest.

Chef “O” possesses a magical talent for culinary art, and his expertise and skill designate him as a trusted authority in his chosen profession. The secret ingredients in every dish he prepares are passion and love, which undoubtedly contribute to a delightful unrivaled flavor and most deserved reputation as the “Best Soul Food Restaurant” in Washington, DC.

Although Oohh’s & Aahh’s reputation is well regarded in the Metropolitan Washington area, Chef “O” continues to satisfy tourists and visitors throughout the United States and from countries around the globe.


 

Brittany Anderson

Leni

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Two-time James Beard Award semi-finalist for the for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, Brittanny Anderson is the Chef and Co-Owner of four establishments, Metzger Bar and Butchery, Brenner Pass, and Black Lodge in Richmond, VA and Leni in Washington, D.C. After attending the French Culinary Institute in New York City, Brittanny sought out an apprenticeship at Blue Hill at Stone Barn where she extensively learned about sustainability and local sourcing of true farm to table cuisine. She then went on to be a part of the opening team of Northern Spy Food Co. in Manhattan’s East Village where she worked her way up as Sous Chef before returning to her native Virginia to open her own restaurant. In 2014, Brittanny opened Metzger which focuses on German influenced dishes with an emphasis on seasonal and sustainable ingredients. She strives to transform classic cuisine with modern presentation and local ingredients. With the success of Metzger, both locally and nationally, Brittanny has expanded her brand with a second chef-driven modern European restaurant, a seafood distribution business, a curated cheese company, coffee shop and bar. She currently lives outside of Richmond, VA with her husband, Kjell and their dog and two cats.


 

Benjamin Lambert

The Point DC

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Growing up in northeast Ohio, foraging, hunting, and fishing were just a regular part of his life. He attributes his love affair with food to his grandparents, who were avid cooks who canned and jarred the local produce when it was in season. Today he may not have “call of the wild” style wilderness at his disposal, but he still forages for morel mushrooms in his spare time.

His journey toward the food industry began when he enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America at his mother’s suggestion. After graduating, he worked at Le Cirque 2000 under the watchful gaze of Sottha Khunn. At Union Pacific while working under Rocco Dispirito, Lambert was inspired by the focus on a balance between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter in each dish. He took that lesson and replicates it to this day in each dish he creates. The tight quarters in the kitchen of his next stop, Picholine, would also be an important step. But it wasn’t really until working with Chef Jason Neroni at 71 Clinton Fresh Foods that Lambert feels he developed a professional interest in farm-to-table. From New York, he moved to DC and took the position of chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora. He turned out to be a natural fit for a restaurant that was organic and seasonal before those were buzz words. Lambert relishes the total menu development freedom that he’s earned, and the inspiration that Chef-Owner Nora Pouillon provides when they discuss the daily-changing dishes. He continues to promote, with Pouillon, the importance of local organic food in the capital city. After many years of working in New York City and the nation’s capital as Executive chef of Bread and Tulips, 701 Restaurant and District Winery.  He has taken the position of Executive Chef of The Point in Washington DC where he brings his wealth of culinary experience to the menus.


 

Pepe Moncayo

Cranes

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Pepe Moncayo is chef/partner at Cranes in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood and a partner at Bam!, his first solo restaurant, opened in Singapore in 2013. At Bam!, chef Moncayo built an omakase-style experience unbound by geography. Living in Singapore for 10 years has enriched his cuisine with Asian ingredients and methods. Previous stops include stints under three Michelin star Catalan chef Santi Santamaria at his eponymous Santi in Singapore, Can Fabes and EVO, and as executive chef at two-Michelin-starred Dos Cielos with Javier and Sergio Torres.

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