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Vegan fare with Chef Todd Gray

Washington DC chef Todd Gray, co-owner of Equinox (1999–present) will be the closing speaker at the Art of Catering Food this August. His sophisticated and seasonal mid-Atlantic-focused menu has made his restaurant a darling with the critics; a lifeline with the local farmers he frequents for his ingredients; and a must visit for the gourmand generation due to his forward-thinking approach to plant-based menus.

“We’ve had plant-based selections for the past eight years or so,” says Chef Gray, “but for the past three years, we’ve expanded that to include a Vegan Brunch.”

Every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the vegan brunch includes such seasonal specialties as yellow tomato and pineapple gazpacho (recipe to follow); farfalle with wild mushroom Bolognese; granola crusted French toast with strawberry-rhubarb compote and maple syrup; and tofu scramble with black beans and seasonal vegetable ratatouille, among others. “It’s well-attended every week, and many times, we sell out,” says Chef.

But take a look at his menu and you will see that an entire section of his lunch and dinner menus are also devoted to plant-based dishes. “Our philosophy has evolved over the past 17 years,” says Chef Gray. “But since we opened our doors in 1999, we have always featured vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Now that vegan fare and plant-based cuisine is becoming more mainstream, it seems like we are on point with a trend but it’s actually been in our restaurant’s DNA since the beginning. 

“It’s a lot of fun to experiment and push the boundaries of our creativity when it comes to plant-based cuisine,” says Chef, “and the response from our guests has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The chef keeps things simple—no vegan crab cakes, for example (“I like crab cakes to be crab cakes and for veg-forward plant-based foods to be exactly what they are.”), but the chef is experimenting with making his own egg replacer and also makes almond milk.

“For us, we’re just as delighted and capable of delivering plant-based dishes as we are traditional meat or seafood dishes,” says Chef.

Yellow Tomato and Pineapple Gazpacho

Serves 6



4 yellow tomatoes; quartered
1 yellow bell pepper; split, seeded and chopped
1 cut peeled pineapple
1 small clove garlic
1 half cucumber; peeled
1 shallot peeled and chopped
3 oz. sherry vinegar
3 oz. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper and Tabasco (to taste)


Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and puree until liquefied.

Pass through a small–holed china cap or pasta basket in order to keep tomato consistency. Adjust seasoning and keep chilled until ready to use.

For garnish

6 small red teardrop tomato; halved
6 small yellow teardrop tomato; halved
¼ cup shaved scallions
Micro basil

To serve

Chill six bowls. Place teardrop tomatoes, shaved scallions, and basil into bowls. Pour chilled soup over garnish.

See Chef Gray at AOCF

Chef Todd Gray will close The Art of Catering Food with his seminar, “Sitting at the Table with Millennials” a discussion about the future of restaurants and catering in the world of the millennial generation.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource and Special Events magazines, including all digital content for both websites and e-newsletter products. She also vets, hires, guides and coordinates all live education at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food, Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit, and bridge content at The Special Event.