The Week in Food Events: Inaugural Chef Ball, King Cake Season, and More to Look Forward to

Plus: Get your tickets now for Pigs and Pinot at Jackson 20.

Assaggi Mozzarella Bar welcomes a famous Italian chef this month. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user ehpien.

Happy New Year, food people. We trust you’ve recovered from all the holiday cookies and open bars and are ready to bring your A-game to inaugural events and other food-focused activities on the horizon. Here’s a look at the best food events on tap this week and beyond.

In the next seven days:

King cake season: January 6 marks the Epiphany—the celebration of the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus. And you know what that means: king cake. Bayou Bakery begins selling its sought-after version of the tricolored NOLA confection on Sunday. Head to the Arlington bakery or order one in advance online. They’re $39.95 each.

Party with the pros: This month, Graffiato kicks off its industry takeover series—your chance to mingle with the men and women behind the lines at your favorite restaurants and bars. Open to the public but designed to show appreciation for restaurant employees, the events take place the first Monday of every month from 10 PM to 1 AM. First up on Monday, January 7: the staff from Range, Bryan Voltaggio’s shiny new stop atop the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Look out for Owen Thomson behind the bar with drink specials. There will also be free snacks.

On sale now:

Nick Balenger Benefit: Sunday, January 13, head to the National Cathedral School (3612 Woodley Road, Northwest) for a benefit for 17-year-old Nick Balenger. Balenger, the son of the director of training at the Four Seasons hotels in Washington, suffered a severe spinal cord injury this summer, and chefs from Bourbon Steak, the Source by Wolfgang Puck, Bibiana, Rogue 24, Graffiato, Proof and Estadio, and Wit & Wisdom are rallying to help offset the cost of his rehabilitation via the $200-per-person dinner. All proceeds from the event, which begins at 6 PM, will go to the Balenger family. To reserve email

Another one from Graffiato: Chef Mike Isabella will be kicking off a series of “gem dinners”—showcasing rare and interesting ingredients like tuna marrow or pig snout—on Sundays and Mondays beginning January 13, the 12-course meals will be prepared by sous chef Adam Brick and cost $85. The meals happen on the restaurant’s second floor and must be reserved a month in advance by e-mailing

Try food from an Italian master: From 4 to 10 PM on Monday, January 14, Bethesda Italian restaurant Assaggi Mozarella Bar hosts Simone Proietti-Pesci, chef and owner of Le Delizie del Borgo in Bevagna,
Italy. The five-course tasting menu costs $58 and includes dishes like eggplant Parmesan and homemade tagliatelle pasta with white beef ragu. Reserve by calling 301-951-1988.

Pork with your Pinot Noir: Pigs and Pinot returns to Alexandria’s Jackson 20
restaurant in the Hotel Monaco. Held on Wednesday, January 16, the five-course
dinner—featuring piggy dishes paired with Pinots from Oregon,
California, and New Zealand—costs $85 per person. Get tickets through CityEats.

Inaugural party for a cause: Now is also the time to get tickets to Art and Soul’s late-night chef’s ball
in honor of the inauguration. Support charities while feasting on
treats from Mike Isabella, Scott Drewno, and more. The event takes place on Saturday, January 19.