DC-area chefs are ‘knocking out hunger’ at the 19th annual Capital Food Fight

Organizers call it “the baddest night of doing good.”

The 19th annual Capital Food Fight is this Thursday night at The Anthem in Southwest D.C. The event, which raises money for DC Central Kitchen, brings more than 70 restaurants from around the region under one roof, giving you the chance to sample from places you’ve long meant to visit but haven’t been able to yet.

But the main event is the food fight itself — four local chefs on the main stage competing against each other, as if cooking competition TV shows “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” made at stop in the D.C. region They’ll have to make four dishes using a secret ingredient they won’t know about until it’s time to start cooking. They’ll each make four dishes total.

“I’m sure it’s a lot of pressure being on stage,” said Ria Montes of Estuary, one of the four chefs chosen to compete this year. “And I think it’s something like 800 people are expected to show up, and that builds a little bit of pressure on there.”

She was there watching last year, and described it as “a lot of movement and a lot of chaos,” a term that her friend and fellow competitor, Rachel Bindel of Gravitas, also used to describe the action on the stage.

“There’s always a little bit of anxiety nerves, but no, it’s going to be fun. We’re going to just make the best of it. We’re going to have a good time. I’m with a lot of good people,” Bindel said.

Joining Bindel and Montes on stage this year will be Carlos Camacho of dLeña and Edward Reavis of All Set.

“The four chefs are rising stars in the D.C. culinary field,” said Melissa Gold, the marketing director for DC Central Kitchen. “We have our eye on a lot of amazing human beings. And I’m really, really excited about this year’s contestants.”

Tickets to the event will get you “unlimited tastings from the restaurants that are on the first and second floors,” according to Gold. She added that, with a VIP ticket, you can access an “open bar of beer and wine on the first floor, spirits on the second floor.”

Running the show on stage will be a trio of emcees: chefs Spike Mendelson and Jose Andres, and longtime D.C. radio host and personality Tommy McFly. Celebrity judges of the Food Fight include Mr. National — Ryan Zimmerman, formerly of the Washington Nationals.

The winner gets not only bragging rights, but a pair of boxing gloves, “because we’re knocking out hunger,” said Gold.

Bindel and Montes made it clear that one of them was leaving with those boxing gloves.

“The boys are going down. That’s what’s happening,” said Bindel, with amusement. “One of us is winning. We already know.”

“The boys are going down,” agreed Montes.

From there, they’re both good with taking home the gloves. “We’re good. We’ve done our job,” said Bindel, while Montes stood next to her and laughed.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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