Welcome back to our photo series Eater Scenes, where Eater photographer Rey Lopez captures restaurants in action at a certain, and very specific, point in the day. This time around, Lopez collaborated with Eater writer Tim Ebner to check out Union Kitchen's first industry potluck.
Chefs aren't ones to sit down for dinner. Generally speaking, they're behind the scenes, in the kitchen and on their feet. But at Union Kitchen's "Made in D.C." dinner, notable chefs, food purveyors and a few D.C. brewers and distillers got a chance to sit down, on a night when they might normally be rushing orders out of the kitchen.
Don't think of this as a super secret dining club, or a head-to-head food competition, says Union Kitchen's Gauri Sarin. Tuesday's dinner was the first in a series of potluck dinners, hosted by Union Kitchen, and the purpose is to bring together restaurants and food businesses, so they can meet and sample each other's work.
If this is a potluck dinner, then it's a potluck dinner on steroids.
Maketto chef James Wazniku manned the charcoal grill cooking Vietnamese bo bun with barbecue chicken. Chris Johnson and James Brosch from Cured D.C. served thinly sliced duck prosciutto and Spanish-style chorizo. And, Green Hat Gin's John Uselton was behind the bar serving cherry blossom rickeys and white pear negronis. Also on hand were Sona Creamery's Frank Paris with six different kinds of goat cheese, and D.C. Brau's Chris Graham and Jake Agger, loaded with cans of their Imperial/Double IPA "On the Wings of Armageddon."
In addition to bigger name chefs, several small food businesses sat elbow-to-elbow. Meredith Tomason, who runs a bakery and catering company by herself, RareSweets, says she doesn't get much time to network, plus she's new to the city. This off-the-clock dinner was an opportunity to meet other chefs and have fun, she says. Number 1 Sons, a local pickling operation found at several farmers markets and retailers, also used the night to swap business cards with potential clients.
This is Union Kitchen's first potluck dinner. It was hosted at the WeWork coworking space inside Shaw's Wonder Bread Factory. The kitchen incubator is hoping these dinners turn into a regular thing, helping to bring the food scene to the table. "We've got the first distiller in D.C. here tonight, the first brewer in D.C., the first creamery and they're all sitting down and having dinner," says Cullen Gilchrist, co-founder of Union Kitchen. "It's about time for D.C.'s food scene to stamp its own place on the map."
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