Todd and Ellen Gray of Equinox and Watershed Dish About Their Upcoming Cookbook

In a little over a year, the Grays will put out their first cookbook with recipes that are a reflection of their different heritages.

By: Anna Spiegel

Todd and Ellen Gray with their son, Harrison. Photograph courtesy of Equinox restaurant
Home cooks, make more room on your bookshelves. Chef Todd Gray and his wife and business partner, Ellen, are joining the growing ranks of local writers and chefs who have cookbooks in the works (you can get a sneak peak of the others here). The couple, who owns Equinox in downtown DC and the newly opened Watershed in DC’s NoMa neighborhood, have chosen Kitchen Conversions as the working title of the book. It’s set to be published by St. Martin’s Press in Fall 2012.

The recipes will have a historical bent, with Todd’s translations of food from his and Ellen’s ancestors: his were Germans who settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the Northern Chesapeake Bay region at the beginning of the 20th century; and hers were eastern-European Jews who immigrated to New York around the same time.

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“The theme is basically ‘I say knish, you say potato,’ ” says Ellen.

The recipes will be organized by season. Items such as borscht with blood oranges and roasted golden beets, and citrus blintzes with stewed winter fruit speak to Ellen’s heritage, while lamb chops with mint jam and schnitz un knepp—a traditional Pennsylvanian Dutch preparation of sliced apples, ham, and dumplings—come from Todd’s upbringing. There will also be recipes inspired by the couple’s travels; the falafel with shredded vegetables, pickled cucumbers, and garlic tahini is a combination that Ellen helped recreate after spending time in Israel. And recipes will have separate instructions for kosher preparation.

While the Grays have contributed many interviews and recipes to other publications, this is their first cookbook.

“It takes time to build a culinary repertoire,” says Ellen about why they chose to publish a book now versus years ago. “It’s easier when you have a lot to choose from.”

When Kitchen Conversions comes out, it will be around Equinox’s 14th anniversary.

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