The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

In the Kitchen with Chef Todd Gray

In the Kitchen with Chef Todd Gray

In the Kitchen

June 29, 2008

Todd Gray, 43, is the Executive Chef at Equinox Restaurant in Washington D.C. Since opening Equinox in 1999, Gray has emerged as one of the surest culinary talents in the nation’s capital. As a tireless champion of sustainable farming and fishing practices, Gray works with local farmers to infuse his creations with a passion for Mid-Atlantic food. His unpretentious seasonal cuisine is both sophisticated and environmentally sound, a true artist’s vision from farm to plate.
What is the main focus of your cooking?
The main focus of my cooking is quality and seasonality. I like to think I am giving the Washington, D.C. Metro area somewhat of a regional identity and style of cuisine.
Is there a particular nutritional focus of your menus?
Seasonal, seasonal, seasonal – and local when possible. That is the most nutritious you can get!
What is your relationship with local farmers?
Excellent. I love when they pull up here and I am their first stop of the day. I literally get on the truck and pick the best products straight from the farm.
Are you incorporating locally grown foods into your dishes? How?
Of course, when possible. But we also have to be realistic. We have always bought our goods from an open market – and trade is a GOOD thing. A little too much "locavoire" is not always the answer. Everything needs to be in balance.
What are the major concerns today of your patrons when it comes to dining out? And how are you addressing them?
The cost of food is a major concern for everyone these days. We are addressing this concern by utilizing all parts of animals and fish and increasing our use of vegetables.
How important is sustainability?
There is a lot of "misinformation" out there, so I think this topic can be a bit too general too address. Each industry has specific issues with regards to sustainability. I think education in this area is the most important thing right now – all the way from politician to producer to consumer to chef.
How important is traceability?
More information is needed in all these areas, but obviously it’s all relevant and important. We want our food to be safe and come from trusted sources.
What steps does your restaurant take toward conservation?
We pretty much approach life with an attitude of conservation, therefore, we make choices throughout the day, weeks and year with an attitude of conservation. It’s a holistic approach to running a business. We view it as much more than a green trend. There are so many pieces to the puzzle.