Casting call: No torn tendon can keep Todd Gray out of the kitchen. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

You could view it as a cruel twist of fate for a guy who had to sit through nine interminable gala ceremonies until he heard his name called as chef of the year. Or you could view it as it should be: evidence that the Equinox chef is not some absentee toque content to let his hired hands execute his menus. This veteran is still on his feet in the kitchen, working for your daily meal.

And he has the foot to prove it.

Gray told me that his foot had been bothering him for some time, but the pain got bad enough that he had it checked out earlier this week. The diagonis: torn tendon. Not just any tendon, either, but the main one that stretches from heel to toe. The good news: The doctor said Gray doesn’t need surgery. The bad news: Gray has to hobble around in this awkward cast for a few weeks.

That’s right. When I stopped by Watershed in NoMa on Wednesday, Gray was working, undaunted by his cast. He clearly doesn’t have the luxury to prop his bad wheel on the couch and watch bad daytime TV. He not only has to look after Equinox and Watershed, but also his new Muse, the veg-friendly cafe at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

That, folks, is chef of the year material.