Life Lessons From the Kitchen: Q&A with Food Network Star Kaimana Chee

Life Lessons From the Kitchen: Q&A with Food Network Star Kaimana Chee

By Adria Valdes Greenhauff, Editor-at-Large

Kaimana Chee knows a thing or two about working under pressure. The 39-year-old chef gained major attention after appearing on several popular cooking competition shows, including Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay, Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen, which he won back in 2016.

We recently caught up with Chef Chee to talk all things culinary, including the biggest lesson he learned from cooking competitively and how he’s sharing his passion for healthy, sustainable cooking.

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Culinary for a Cause: Over 90 D.C. Restaurants Promise Inauguration Profits Will Go to Charities

We're excited to have @momolongplay CCDC on board with #allinservicedc, supporting @some_dc!

A photo posted by All In Service DC (@allinservicedc) on

There's no denying that the results of the 2016 election have left the public unsettled with tumultuous uproar from both sides, but while there has been shaky dissent about who's filling in the Oval Office seat and the seats in the Senate, one thing is for for sure: seats in D.C.'s restaurants will be filled during Inauguration weekend. 

Even without a big political celebration or protest, Washington, D.C., is already a big culinary city known for its James Beard Award-winning venues and for being named "Bon Appétit Magazine's" 2016 Restaurant City of the Year. However, D.C. is taking it a step further by going culinary for a cause.

More than D.C. 90 restaurants, bars, cafes, and distilleries — along with salons and other businesses — have promised to donate profits from Inauguration weekend to charities, especially toward movements that have felt jeopardized by Trump's proposed policies.

The All in Service fundraising event, which will take place Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 and organized by service professionals Alaina Dyne and Amanda Carpenter, is not so much as Trump protest as it is a campaign for diversity. The restaurant industry is diverse with rich cuisines and is the epitome of people-driven hospitality and compassion, so it shouldn't be a surprise that All in Service has taken root.

@himitsudc is aboard, supporting @plannedparenthood for #allinservicedc!

A photo posted by All In Service DC (@allinservicedc) on

More weekend shopping opportunites: @shopvioletdc joins #allinservicedc, supporting #NStreetVillage!

A photo posted by All In Service DC (@allinservicedc) on

Funds from this event will support Planned Parenthood, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and other local organizations that aim to serve the homeless, provide healthcare and social services, assist low-income families, and advocate for Women's, LGBTQ, and immigrant lives.

"The events of the inauguration present a vital opportunity to serve our nation's capital by creating inclusive spaces, in service not only to our guests, but also to our community. These are the fundamentals of hospitality, and it is in this spirit that we invite you to join us," the website states. "We are a team of people from the hospitality community, service workers, and restaurateurs who are making a statement of inclusion and love for community. As a service industry — like a gracious host — we welcome all."

The roster of restaurants is impressive, including Momofuku CCDC, Bourbon, Café Saint-Ex, The Diner, Tryst, Bad Saint, The Coupe, Graffiato and more. All participating businesses and their causes can be found by neighborhood here.

“We know that tens of thousands of people are coming into the District for that weekend. There are going to be Trump supporters coming into town, and there are going to be protestors,” All in Service PR representative Sarah Massey said. “What this can do is show everyone that Washington, D.C.’s, service industry cares about our community.” Read More

Cava Grill Shows Off Its Chops with Tasty Lamb Meatballs

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Video Produced by Denise Toledo

The idea for Cava Grill stemmed from the full-service restaurant Cava Mezze, which was founded by three childhood friends aiming to provide high-quality Greek and Mediterranean cuisine to the modern consumer. Cava Grill, the fast-casual spinoff of Cava Mezze, has since exploded. Growing to over 25 units, Cava Grill is primed to be a breakout brand in fast casual. Chef Dimitri Moshovitis shared with us some of the tricks to Cava’s success.

“I think that we kinda hit on every demographic. We can be in the city, we can be in the suburb. We can be in a mall or airport. We have that ‘make you feel good’ kinda food. We like to go out there and find people that we can partner up with; local farmers, local producers. And I think people see that. That does break that $8 barrier when you are part of the community,” he said.

Lamb is a central ingredient to Greek and Mediterranean flavors, and as such, Chef Dimitri wants to be sure he does it right. Keeping in line with his community focus, Dimitri knew sourcing lamb for the restaurant locally was a must. That’s why he reached out to American shepherd Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm to supply the lamb for Cava Grill’s spicy lamb meatballs.

As Rogers says, a big part of the flavor for the meatballs comes from how the lamb is grown. Rogers creates a sweet fat on his lamb by starting at the bottom of the food chain.

“We have to spend a little more effort on nurturing our grasses and pastures to create high sugar grasses, that’s then going to create really sweet meat flavors and fat flavors,” Rogers explained.

This care translates into perfectly charred meatballs on your choice of a pita, grains, or greens. Watch how much care goes into delivering tasty, local lamb to your plate on this episode of Fast Casual Nation.