On the Town: StarChefs Rising Stars Revue

The foodie site names 15 chefs, pastry chefs, and sommeliers to watch.

From left, Restaurant Nora chef/owner Nora Pouillon, Cafe Atlantico’s Katsuya Fukushima with mentor Jose Andres, and editor Antoinette Bruno.

What: Rising Stars Revue

Where: National Housing Center Atrium

When: Wednesday, December 13

Who: Culinary site recognized 15 area chefs, pastry chefs, and sommeliers as up-and-coming food industry stars, including Restaurant Eve chef Cathal Armstrong and sommelier Todd Thrasher, Café Atlantico's Katsuya Fukushima and CityZen’s Eric Ziebold. Each award recipient was there to dish up treats and pour cocktails.

Drink of Choice: Guests sampled Thrasher’s signature cocktails – a cranberry flavored drink made with his homemade cranberry juice and Eamonn’s Cocktail made with Irish whisky. Others sipped on champagne through a straw, a sometimes messy process due to the laws of physics, and a collection of wines chosen by Charlie Palmer Steak sommelier Nadine Brown.

CityZen’s Eric Ziebold made a tartiflette–a Yukon gold millefeuille with Brillat-Savarin cheese, shoat confit, and frisee.

Food: Each of the honorees served up two small samplings for guests who milled around the atrium. Noshes included roasted baby beets with passion fruit gelee from the Oval Room’s Tony Conte and a tartiflette from CityZen's Ziebold. Unlike many of the larger food events (Taste of the Nation say, or Capitol Food Fight), there were no long lines at any of the food stations. In fact, the biggest challenge might have been wading through the gaggle of girls surrounding easy-on-the-eyes Barton Seaver. But snagging a bite of the Café Saint-Ex chef's jalapeno-crusted waloo with a sweet potato puree was definitely worth it.

Notti Bianche and Dish chef Anthony Chittum passed out porcini-stuffed malfatti–an Italian dumpling.

A true culinary power couple, Notti Bianche and Dish Chef Tony Chittum and his wife, pastry chef Heather Chittum, heated things up with two of the best and most popular dishes. Tony served up a rich, porcini-stuffed malfatti while Heather put an elegant spin on a campfire classic with a big city s’more.

Some of the other mmmm, mmmm good dishes included Vidalia chef RJ Cooper’s truffled heirloom potatoes with crispy pork belly, Perry's chef Noriaki Yasutake’s sushi-version of fish and chips, and Belga Cafe chef Bart Vandaele’s venison and couscous waffles. Kinkead’s pastry chef Hichem Lahreche and Maestro pastry chef Tom Wellings rounded out dessert – and guests bellies – with respectively, a pineapple tatin and milk chocolate crema with chicory. It was worth the extra mileage on the treadmill.

Restaurant publicist Amber Pfau, rising star chef Barton Seaver, and writer Amanda McClements.

Culinary Circles: Also there were Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington president Lynne Breaux dashed, and such bloggers and writers as The List's Nycci Nellis and's Amanda McClements. Mark Kuller, the incredibly tall owner of the new wine-centric restaurant Proof, towered over the crowds, winning the best views and keeping his friends' wine glasses full. Restaurant owner Ashok Bajaj, there to support Oval Room Chef Tony Conte, beamed at the number of Rising Stars who used to work in his restaurants: Barton Seaver and Todd Thrasher spent time at Ardeo, RJ Cooper worked at Oval Room, and Nadine Brown came from 701.

Big Winner
: Photographer Len DePas scored big when he won the raffle, a jade range stove worth over $3,000.

Two restaurateurs: Ashok Bajoj, who owns Ardeo, Rasika, and the Oval Room (among others), with Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Michael Babin, who owns Tallula, Evening Star Cafe, Vermillion, and Rustico.
Another rising star: Restaurant Eve’s Cathal Armstrong (right).