Chef Rock Harper

People love discussing every aspect of food — except where it goes once it’s been chewed up and swallowed, says chef Rock Harper. The D.C.-based “Hell’s Kitchen” champion hopes to change that tonight when he hosts a colon-friendly cook-off.

“If you eat well, you’ll live well,” says Harper, who got involved with the debut of the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation’s Eat4Life event when he learned of the serious threat that colon cancer poses. It’s one of the leading causes of cancer deaths nationwide, and the Washington area has the highest colon cancer mortality rate in the country.

One way to reduce your risk of colon cancer? Cut back on red meat consumption, says dietician Sarah Waybright (, who compiled the event’s nutrition guidelines. She told the roster of participating chefs — including Scott Drewno from The Source and “Top Chef” alums Mike Isabella and Carla Hall — that a little is fine, but she recommends no more than a 5-ounce serving.

“You can have a great meal without meat,” Harper says, noting that when his new sausage restaurant, Fat Shorty’s, opens in Clarendon this April, there will be vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. “You can create that same sort of mouth play with other foods, but you need to work at it.”

Chefs shouldn’t feel too limited by Waybright’s list of approved ingredients: All fruits, vegetables and whole grains are fair game. That’s because they have fiber, which she describes as “a broom sweeping through your digestive system,” making sure you have regular bowel movements.

“At restaurants, sometimes it seems like the vegetables are an afterthought,” Waybright says. “Two pieces of asparagus crisscrossed on a plate are beautiful, but they’re not a serving of vegetables.”

The winning dish for the cook-off should be judged both on how it goes down and how it goes out.

Details: Chris4Life’s Eat4Life cook-off is at 6 p.m. tonight at Crios Modern Mexican (2120 P St. NW). Tickets are $50 and include chef tastings and two drinks. More details are at

Chef Rock Harper’s Recipe

Can’t make it tonight? Make Harper’s meal at home. This menu serves four.

Salmon Sausage


4 ounces salmon

1 egg white

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons onion, diced

1 teaspoon fresh dill

1 teaspoon fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

• Grind salmon or chop finely. Add all ingredients and form two 2-ounce patties. Allow to chill overnight if possible.

• Preheat a sauté pan over high heat. Add patties to pan with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Sauté for approximately one minute per side, or until golden brown.

• Transfer to oven and bake for approximately 4 minutes, or until cooked through.

Cauliflower and blackeyed pea puree


1 cup skim milk

¼ head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch-wide florets

½ 15 ounce can black eyed peas

to taste, kosher salt

to taste, white pepper


• Bring skim milk with cauliflower, covered directly with a round of parchment paper, just to a simmer in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

• Transfer cauliflower with a slotted spoon to a blender and add black eyed peas.Blend with cooking liquid until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then add salt and pepper. If the puree is too think, add a bit of water.

• Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, before serving.

Roasted vegetables


1 carrot, peeled and diced small

1 fennel bulb, cored and diced small

1 stalk of celery, diced small

1 red pepper, diced small

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh black pepper


• Toss all ingredients with oil and season with salt and pepper.

• Place vegetables in a roasting pan in a single layer and roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until brown-about 10 minutes.

Green onion vinaigrette (for the vegetables)


¼ cup white wine vinegar

½ small shallot, chopped

1 teaspoon honey

6 each green onions, green part only, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


• Combine first four ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed.

• Slowly drizzle all of the olive oil in blender as the motor is running and mix until dressing is well emulsified.

• Season lightly with salt and pepper.