News & Politics

Equinox Restaurant Celebrates Its Executive Chef

Karen Nicolas, new to DC last fall, was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2012.

Equinox executive chef Karen Nicolas with owners Todd and Ellen Gray. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Like proud parents, Equinox owners
Ellen and Todd Gray threw a party Sunday evening on behalf of
Karen Nicolas, the restaurant’s executive chef and one of
Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs of 2012.”
She is on a list of ten chefs from across the country, and the only one
from Washington.
The heat and a sudden rainstorm did not deter the fun—or the
food and wine—for the guests, who were treated to a buffet of
salads, roasted and grilled meat and fish, and an endless
supply of Chef Gray’s remarkable pan-cooked cornbread.

Nicolas, a native of Philadelphia, came to Equinox
last fall with an impressive résumé that included stints at Dry Creek
in Healdsburg, California, and Gramercy Tavern in New York
City. She studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence,
Rhode Island, and shared her favorite DC “cheap eat” (ramen at

and her current food obsession (sorrel).

Gray, one of Washington’s most lauded and popular chefs, has his own
obsession at the moment: the opening next month of Sheila
Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia,
where he is overseeing the food program, including an equestrian-themed
restaurant and a “cooking studio” for culinary classes. The
resort has been in the works for years but was temporarily stalled
by the recession. Johnson owns three other resorts, located in
the Dominican Republic, Florida, and South Carolina.