Chef Todd Gray and his wife Ellen Kassoff Gray are the owners of the Washington, D.C.-based Equinox Restaurant. This July and August, the restaurant’s team will be located at its satellite kitchen in Lewes to provide pop-up summer catering services. We recently spoke to chef Gray about food trends, kitchen favorites and more.
Food trend I love:
We love plant-based foods for so many reasons—from the environment to the health benefits—but most importantly, clean eating is just better. Vegetables are no longer on the sidelines. They are taking center stage and really becoming the focus of so many of our dishes.
Food trend that should go away:
The overworked high-wire acts of molecular gastronomy. More often than not, less is more. While I have the greatest respect for molecular gastronomy’s innovators, there’s nothing better than simple fresh cooking.
Ingredient I love:
Rhubarb. It’s the best underrated vegetable out there. It’s so delicious and so versatile. We’re using it now in a rhubarb shortcake and to make a refreshing soda, but you can also use it to make jam, pies, tarts, sorbet and compote. I also love the versatility of nuts. We make our own nut milks and cashew cheese, which we use in many of our plant-based dishes, like truffled polenta frites and chocolate banana cream cake. We’re also getting into sea vegetables like nori, sea lettuce and kombu in a big way.
Tool I can’t live without:
My hands. There is no substituting those. They are the best tool—and free. Plus, they don’t clutter your kitchen space. And, of course, my knives.
My favorite cookbook:
“The New Jewish Table,” which I co-wrote with my wife Ellen. It’s my favorite because it’s the story of lox and love with good food in between. I also turn to Yotem Ottolenghi’s cookbooks again and again. One of my new favorites is “Zahav” by Michael Solomonov. These cookbooks are very vegetable-driven, fresh and creative.
My favorite restaurant:
The little hummus restaurant we ate at in Akko—I loved the rich history, the location on the coast of Israel, and the fact that it is run by a husband-and-wife team, too. Oh, and they also have a spice shop that is over 600 years old. At the shore, we like Henlopen City Oyster House and Salt Air. We also always stop by Big Fish Seafood Market to pick up seafood to make back at our beach house.
My last meal:
Soft-shell crabs, oysters, some pasta, and any and all things Israeli.