Young and Hungry

The Proof Is In The Curry: Haidar Karoum Wins Capital Food Fight

Proof chef Haidar Karoum's lamb with spinach and coconut curry bested Watershed toque Todd Gray's potato latke with diced apple and ... well, something involving lamb. Honestly, it was pretty darn loud at last night's Capital Food Fight. I couldn't hear what Gray did with the lamb—and I was standing at the foot of the stage.

Whatever Gray's meaty creation, Karoum was picked the winner, earning both the respect of his peers and what appeared to be a congratulatory smooch from host José Andrés! (Read how Karoum prepared for battle here.)

In an earlier bout, an orgy of Top Chef alum took the stage as surprise guests: Good Stuff Eatery's Spike Mendelsohn, paired with The Chew's Carla Hall, topped rumor magnet Mike Isabella of Graffiato, paired with Jennifer Carroll (cooking in three-inch, calf-high boots), with their spin on patatas bravas made with a melon-baller.

The Ronald Reagan Building was totally packed, totally loud and totally full of old men in suits who shelled out $200 a pop (not including throwing down thousands of dollars for auction items) to attend the charity event, benefiting the D.C. Central Kitchen. The joint was so noisy that Andrés, dressed in an elbow patch blazer (what, does he think he's teaching a class at Harvard?), often had to scream into the mic to be heard. I think I overheard handsome co-host Anthony Bourdain ask the Minibar maestro if he was running for the White House.

The fashionable Hall, dressed in gorgeous skinny leather pants (she even let me feel them—soooo smooth), performed admirably in the role of auctioneer. She must be getting plenty of practice in speaking crazy fast from talking over Mario Batali on The Chew.

Some 60 local restaurants offered tastings during the competition. Dupont Circle's Casa Nonna, for one, was boiling fresh pasta on site for its sample plates.

Some photos from the star-studded soiree:

Secret ingredient: skate.

Nothing like raw meat, served in bulk.

Andrés, showing off the goods.

Duck and parmesan do go together.

I swear, Bourdain and I locked eyes. Or maybe he was just waving to friend Tim Carman.

Yes, apparently, pageants still exist. That's Miss District of Columbia standing with victorious chef Karoum.

Photos by Stefanie Gans

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