On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at Union Row in the heart of the U-street corridor in Washington, DC Lauren DeSantis, host and producer of local television series and blog the Capital Cooking Show which highlights the abundance of cultural influences on the culinary industry in Washington, DC debuted her latest project — the Capital Cooking cookbook. The gathering in the lobby and private party room of her posh condo building was packed with friends, fans, foodies, wine lovers, and fellow food bloggers. Local DC area chefs, Dan Giusti of 1789, Dean Gold of Dino, Jamie Montes de Oca, Jr. of ZENTAN and Sarah Smith, of Cashion’s Eat Place each provided guests with samples of their restaurant’s fare. Chef Ana Victoria from the Embassy of Panama offered samples of her recipe featured in the cookbook, Shrimp and Fish Ceviche with Pixbae which had an interesting and unique ingredient from the Panama palm tree, “Pixbae.” Co-founders, Brett Thompson and Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ offered pulled Pork Barrel BBQ sandwiches with bread pudding. In addition, local JD Gourmet which produces aged Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil blends, showcased their balsamic vinaigrette by offering it drizzled on a fig, strawberry spinach salad.
My favorites were Giusti’s single bite of fresh local asparagus with big eye tuna Surryano Ham, and smoked paprika, the pulled Pork Barrel BBQ sandwich with bread pudding and Chef Gold’s meatballs, which were tender, juicy and very flavorful. I swore that they were better than my mother’s! (Sorry, Mom!)
The enormous colorful cake by Mallow Drama, Inc. was quite a spectacle in the shape of the Capitol building wearing a toque, which is the appropriate and clever logo of the Capital Cooking show. Many attendees were eager to take a photo of the fanciful eatable art, including myself.
In addition to offering samples of their featured recipe in the cookbook, Chefs Dan Giusti of 1789, Ana Victoria at the Embassy of Panama, Brett Thompson and Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ were guests on the Capital Cooking show and were on hand to autograph their photos or recipes in the book. Apparently, I was one of the only guests to ask for their autographs. It makes perfect sense to me. They’re there — why not?!!
The 129 page cookbook is filled with recipes, sample menus for party planning, and photos from guests of her show — and with every recipe or photo there is a wonderful story about how dreams come true. Co-founders, Brett Thompson and Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ, who has a recipe featured in the cookbook and also was a guest on the show, plans to open a southern style pulled pork BBQ restaurant in the fall, slated for September in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. Brett originally from Missouri and has lived and worked in Washington, DC for eight years. Brett said that he and Heath, “still have their day jobs working for the U.S. Senate.” Sounds like a swell life right? Senate staffers by day, BBQ devotees by night. According to their website, they got the idea for the restaurant in 2006, tired from working late and listening to Senators argue the merits of Pork Barrel spending in the midst of a Congressional Appropriations debate. Once Senator Jim Talent from Missouri was out of office, Brett and Heath discussed opening their own restaurant. In December 2008, Pork Barrel BBQ was founded. Brett and Hall ran the company out of the basement of their houses, selling the BBQ products one bottle at a time and are fulfilling their dream. They have won multiple contests such as the Memphis in May World Championship for their Barbecue Dry Rub and sauces and participated in ABC’s Shark Tank. Their products are now available in over 130 stores nationwide.
The BBQ plans to be at the Food & Wine Festival at the National Harbor, June 12-13, to showcase their BBQ and to get the word out about their new restaurant opening in just a few short months. Brett and I discussed the festival and I was excited to tell them that I will be at the festival to judge the So You Think You Can Grill contest for the Beef Checkoff Initiative.
Ana Victoria, Chef at the Embassy of Panama in Washington, DC is just 21 years old. After graduating from the esteemed Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, NY she came to DC for a one year work Visa to work at Palena. She met the Capital Cooking host, DeSantis recently at the Embassy Challenge competition where DeSantis asked Ana to be a guest on her show.
According to DeSantis’ husband, Corey Then, the Capital Cooking show has been picked up by a new network and will hopefully have continued success. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, the Capital Cooking Cookbook is available online for $29.99. Congratulations to Lauren, may she have continued success!
Filed under: Restaurant Information/Press Tagged: | 1789, Ana Victoria, Brett Thompson, Cake, Capital Cooking, Cashion's Eat Place, Cookbook, Daniel Giusti, Dean Gold, Dino, Heath Hall, Jamie Montes de Oca Jr., JD Gourmet, Lauren DeSantis, Mallow Drama, Panama embassy, Pork Barrel BBQ, Sarah Smith, zentan