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Todd and Ellen Gray Work With a Local TV Producer to Pitch a Reality Show

The program would challenge upcoming interior designers to revamp restaurants in need of some polish.

The judges, from left to right: Jason Reaves, Roberto Donna, Nycci Nellis, Fred Bollerer, Doron Petersan, and Todd Gray. Photographs by Jeff Martin.

Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff-Gray—the husband-and-wife team behind Equinox and Watershed restaurants—are working with a local television producer on a reality-show concept with the working title Re-cre-ate. The idea for the Project Runway-style show (Kassoff-Gray’s) was born out of a class this summer at the Corcoran. 

The Grays, who also own Muse at the Corcoran, a sort of permanent pop-up cafe on the main floor of the gallery, challenged a group of Corcoran College of Art and Design students with revamping the concept for a better customer experience and overall look. Working with their teacher Darlene Molnar, the budding designers tweaked the cafe layout and created new logos and other branded items like aprons and to-go containers to go with Muse’s rustic-but-modern aesthetic.

The winning team of Whitney Hansen and Michelle Kenderish.

The eight students in the class, working in pairs, presented their final projects last week to a panel of judges that included the Grays, food writer and Foodie and the Beast cohost Nycci Nellis, chef Roberto Donna, Doron Petersan of Sticky Fingers Bakery, Corcoran president and director Fred Bollerer, and Jason Reaves of Market Salamander in Middleburg. DC on Heels blogger Vanessa Camozzi was on hand shooting intro and outro segments for cameras. Producer Michael Holstein (he also owns Quench in Rockville) said the reel for the show will feature Camozzi as a sort of emcee, and that he is in talks with radio deejay Tommy McFLY to be the host. If picked up, Re-cre-ate would team competing designers with restaurants around the country in need of a revamp. While the network that picked up the show would have the final say on casting—along with just about everything else—Kassoff-Gray says she selected the judges with the program in mind.

The winning team from the Corcoran, Whitney Hansen and Michelle Kenderish, presented a polished, detailed project. The judges lauded their creative solutions to problems such as paper menus that get dirty throughout the day (the team affixed them to clipboards crafted from old wine crates), and innovations like durable table covers that feature photos of popular food items as well as art from the gallery—the table wraps will be visible from the gallery’s mezzanine level. Their ideas should be fully implemented at Muse in about four weeks. Along with the prize of having their design come to life at Muse, they were awarded gift certificates to local businesses. Should Re-cre-ate get picked up, they may end up on TV, too. 

  • Guestguest

    They might be able to sell the show but pretty much the entire judging panel would need to be recast. Not ready for television, and Donna's stink shouldn't even be allowed to funk up a pilot. At least they got some free consulting for their own joint either way.

  • Betkav

    This endeavor is absolutely wonderful!!! Congratulations to all involved! The entire concept displays
    heartfelt generosity in giving talented designers the ability to showcase their work and ideas.
    Absolutely grand! Good luck to all!

  • Goodweatherfamily


  • Guest

    Congratulations to the Whitney and Michelle! Not an easy task to impress such a panel. TV show or not you did it and it will be implemented for all to see and enjoy! Great job!

  • Aoui

    Love Muse, great ambiance and food and love the fact that the owners gave students the opportunity for a job that will get their young names out. they're quiet inspirational...whenever I'm in town I try to have dinner at Equinox or a little snack at the Muse..

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