On October 8, 2012, celebrity chefs and Washington, DC’s hottest chefs battled it out at the Capital Food Fight with fans and foodies cheering them on. Hosted by local chef José Andrés and Anthony Bourdain, the 9th annual Capital Food Fight raised $600,000 for DC Central Kitchen, which has -- for the last 2 decades -- been a driving forcing in combating hunger in the District.
Top Chef All Star and Washington, DC-based chef and restaurateur, Mike Isabella was Andrew Zimmern’s sous chef during the final food fight -- a “surprise" iguana battle between Zimmern and Bourdain.
The author of Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian, Isabella owns the Italian-inspired small plates restaurant Graffiato, and is a partner of Bandolero, a modern Mexican concept in the heart of Georgetown. In 2013, chef Isabella plans to open a Greek concept, Kapnos, and Italian sandwich shop, G, his 3rd and 4th restaurants in Washington, DC.
I became a chef because: It’s the only thing I know how to do. I grew up cooking with my family, and knew it was the only thing I wanted to do professionally. I was an active kid, and my grandmother used to give me tasks to help her in the kitchen, like rolling meatballs, which kept me calm and focused. I loved it.
I went to Capital Food Fight to: All the chefs and restaurants look forward to participating every year to raise money for DC Central Kitchen. It’s one of my favorite events all year, and this year we raised over $600,000.
The best way to travel here is: When visiting DC, stay in a Kimpton Hotel. There are 8 in the city, located in the best neighborhoods, and many of them have great restaurants and bars.
I stayed at: Home. I moved to DC more than 5 years ago, and my wife and I plan on staying here forever.
When it comes to packing I always bring: Handkerchiefs. I always try to have one on me. They are useful in countless ways.
The best thing I ate was: A cowvin cookie from Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, a vegan bakery in DC. It was an oatmeal cookie sandwich with vanilla cream, and just the right amount of sweetness.
I wish I hadn’t: Lost the celebrity battle because I really wanted to beat Anthony Bourdain. Ha! It was a lot of fun, but winning is always more fun than losing.
Don’t miss: Get your tickets early, because Capital Food Fight sells out very quickly every year.
My favorite part of the event was: The competitions between local and celebrity chefs. Everyone gets so excited leading up to the battles and there is always a lot of trash talking among the chefs, but it’s all in good fun and for a great cause.
My advice would be: If you are competing, practice your dishes so you don’t run out of time. If you’re attending, come hungry because there is a lot of great food from DC restaurants, and go to the after parties, because the fun continues into the wee hours.