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You guys…the Capital Food Fight is the best D.C. food event of the year.

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Listen, I know you’re here for pictures, and there are loads of them from stud photographer Franz Mahr below.

Crucial details: this was the event’s 15th year (and its first at The Anthem, which was awesome, but bump up the lights a bit next year, organizers); there were a ton of local and national (food and non-food) celebrities; O.A.R. performed for some reason (?); secret ingredients in the Chef Battle included white acorn squash, shoulder bacon from the event’s main sponsor (BRAND AWARENESS), and Swapples (MORE BRAND AWARENESS); Rappahannock Oyster Bar’s Autumn Cline beat out Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns, and Kevin Tien of Himitsu in the night’s signature cooking competition; and I got to meet Ryan Zimmerman.

Best drink of the night was Trevor Frye’s “Love is Alive” take on an old-fashioned; best bite of the night (among many, many stellar bites) was the Voltaggio brothers’ masa calamari with fennel pollen and togarashi mayo (and keep an eye out for their new restaurant, Estuary, coming soon to the Conrad Hilton!).

José Andrés was, as always, a charming and boisterous host (with an assist from Spike Mendelsohn) and again rocked an “I Stand With Immigrants” shirt (IMPECCABLE TIMING). You guys know how I feel about the current President of the United States (and if not: he’s a terrible, atrocious human being) – one of my biggest beefs is his utter failure to recognize the contributions (and the basic human dignity) of non-white Americans and non-citizens. Events like this remind us that, without immigrants, without people to pick and clean and ship and unload and prep and cook our food, we aren’t eating. Chef Andrés and his crew have long highlighted the often-underseen and frequently-undervalued people behind the scenes, and I’ll support any event that continues to do so.

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The Capital Food Fight’s growing bigger and bigger, and yes, I like to tease and make fun of the blatant commercialization and branding of certain ingredients and the celebrification of the whole thing, but this truly is an incredible event that does so, so much good for the DC community.

What really matters is that the night raised over $770,000 for DC Central Kitchen, which serves more than 3 million meals to D.C.-area schools, homeless shelters, and partner nonprofits each year. That’s three-quarters of a million dollars, and that’s absolutely incredible. This is the most fun food-related event in D.C.

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