Young and Hungry

WaPo’s Klein Calls Johnny Monis “America’s Greatest Genius.” Can a Vegetarian Make Such a Claim?

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As part of CBS' Washington Unplugged, Under 40, segment, Kaylee Hartung asked WaPo's Ezra Klein, the paper's blogger on economic and domestic policy and part-time food writer, five rapid-fire questions. Among them: What's his favorite restaurant? His favorite place for happy hour? And his "favorite person to watch under 40 in D.C. right now"?

Klein's answers:

  • Favorite restaurant: Palena for a regular Wednesday night dinner but Komi if you have "money to burn."
  • Favorite place for happy hour: Bar Pilar
  • Favorite person to watch under 40 in D.C. right now: "I think Johnny Monis, the chef at Komi, is probably America's greatest genius currently living."

No matter how off the cuff, Klein's last comment is a bold, strong endorsement of Monis, a chef who, despite his tremendous talent, has not won the Rising Star category at the James Beard Awards the past two years. Regardless, I didn't find Klein's choice questionable...until Hartung ended her segment by saying that the blogger is a vegetarian.

Come again?

How then could Klein call Monis a genius — or any chef who works with meats — if he hasn't sampled a large portion of Monis' creations? I e-mailed Klein for some clarification.

Klein wrote this in response:

I haven't actually watched the CBS thing as I'm, err, embarrassed, but if they said I'm a vegetarian, they're wrong. I just don't eat much meat. I've written this publicly in the Post, but my thing is I give myself 5 meat meals (including fish) a month. Sort of strange, I grant you, but it works for me. One month, one of those meals was Komi. And it blew me away.

  • Carol

    Right, 'cause those guys out at U. Michigan working on isolating cancer cells to determine how best to cure that insidious disease are morons compared to some dude who cooks goat.

  • Not a Veggie

    Umm, does Ezra have an eating disorder?

  • dc foodie

    Newsflash, Carol - context is everything!