This was Legal Aid’s first chef competition, hosted by CulinAerie, the recreational cooking school co-founded by Susan Holt. Susan generously donated her space, time, and resources to host the event, in which more than 70 people from nine area law firms competed. The competition was judged by a panel of three celebrity judges: Bonnie Benwick, Food Editor of the Washington Post, Rock Harper, Season 3 Winner of Hell’s Kitchen, culinary instructor at D.C. Central Kitchen and chef and collaborator of Fat Shorty’s in Arlington, and Garret Fleming, owner and chef of the upcoming local restaurant, Gristle.
Each firm fielded a team of cooks, and had one hour to come up with a dish that incorporated the secret ingredient: tomatoes. This was one of the closest competitions, score-wise, according to the judges, who commended all teams on their efforts. Teams were scored on presentation, unique use of ingredients, and overall taste. In the end, however, the DLA Piper team emerged as the winner with their "de-constructed BLT" dish.
The event was thrown in gratitude for Legal Aid’s record-breaking Generous Associates Campaign this year, in which 68 area law firms raised more than $975,000 for the District's oldest and largest non-general civil legal services organization. Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Angel thanked Susan and the celebrity chefs but placed a special emphasis on thanking D.C.'s Generous Associates. "Tonight is all about fun, cooking, (and fierce competition), but I do hope you take a moment to take justified pride thinking about the daughter of a survivor of domestic violence who is sleeping safe in her home tonight because of what you accomplished this past summer. Thank you so much."
The nine participating firms were:
* Beveridge & Diamond, PC
* Dickstein Shapiro LLP
* DLA Piper
* Hunton & Williams LLP
* Kirkland & Ellis LLP
* McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
* Perkins Coie LLP
* Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
* Williams & Connolly LLP
DLA Piper’s Adam Van Alstyne said, “We were really excited to be selected to participate in such a fun event and so proud of the area’s associates who raised nearly a million dollars to support the great work Legal Aid does every day in the city. Like the judges, I also appreciated the deconstructed BLT plating created by "my" team. As team captain, I had the difficult role of drinking beer while they prepared it. All in attendance enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of CulinAerie and their staff (including the delicious appetizers and desserts that they had ready for us). Finally, thanks so much to the celebrity chefs!”
CulinAerie’s Co-Founder Susan Holt added: "Last night's competition proved that Washington attorneys are not only the best legal minds in the world, they also know a thing or two about cooking. I was very impressed with their camaraderie, enthusiasm and creativity, and the fact that the event was for the worthiest of causes made it that much better!"
Below are photos from the evening: