Want Top Chefs to cater your party? Easy. Grab an impressive venue, invite hundreds of people, oh, and try to end childhood hunger while you’re at it. Build it, and they will come.
That’s what happens at the Taste of the Nation D.C. year after year. On Monday night, the National Building Museum housed nearly every heavy hitter in the Washington food scene in support of No Kid Hungry, which benefits Capital Area Food Bank, D.C. Hunger Solutions and Mary’s Center, among others.
The one-night only time commitment is another selling point.
“With all the success and the restaurants doing well, if there is something I can do, because I have no time to do anything, I enjoy doing things like this,” said George Pagonis, fresh off his stint on “Top Chef” season 12.
Life has gotten busier for the Kapnos executive chef, who says an influx of diners have visited the restaurant since the Bravo show aired. Everything else is back to business as usual, save one important shift.
“I work with Mike Isabella, I was with him before and after the show, so I saw it all happen. I’m usually the guy who stands there and takes the picture for him [with fans]. Now it’s getting to the point where they come in and want to take a picture with me and not him. And I’m like ‘In your face!’.”
Bryan Voltaggio, now six years out from his appearance on the cooking show, echoes that same sentiment about time — or lack thereof.
Voltaggio’s struggle to make time to enjoy meals with his own family have become a running punch line for his new cookbook, “Home,” which his wife has dubbed “Occasionally Home.”
“There’s no day off in what we do. It’s food and this is our lives,” Voltaggio said. “When I bring it home I bring it home in a big way. My kids are young, they don’t really understand it, so at least when I come home and they see dad is cooking an elaborate meal, they get connected to the restaurants and what I do.”
A love for food seems to have rubbed off on Voltaggio’s son, who inadvertently became a major contributor to the cookbook. While shooting spreads in their home, the then 6-year-old jumped up to the stove and started cooking. He glazed down cola syrup and tossed it with fingerling potatoes.
Voltaggio had his son write up the recipe, on post-it notes, which he had a photographer shoot and include before the credits. The proud dad later debuted the full recipe on the Today show. Not bad for a new chef.