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all photos: Chris Chen, all post-food-coma words: Svetlana

So, you are a major real estate owner and developer and your next big move is to reboot a historic DC market into a world class, indoor food retail operation featuring 40+ of the area’s best food vendors. What do you do to make sure EVERYONE is talking about it?


Well, if you are EDENS, and the market in question is the soon-to-open UNION MARKET on 1309 5th street NE, you do this (and you do it well):

  • you throw a massive, family style dinner for all of DC’s most enthusiastic food fans and press
  • you make the dinner the first official James Beard foundation dinner benefit in DC
  • you bring in as many of the food royalty you can find in the DC area (the culinary roster for the evening included:  James Beard Foundation award winners R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24 and Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola, as well as Bryan Voltaggio, VOLT, Frederick, MD; Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar; Mike Isabella, Graffiato; Katsuya Fukushima, Daikaya; Nora Pouillon with Todd Woods, Restaurant Nora; Robert Weland, Cork Wine Bar; Nate Anda, Red Apron Butchery; Robb Duncan, Dolcezza; Warren Brown, Cake Love; Scott Drewno, The Source by Wolfgang Puck; Nicholas Stefanelli, Bibiana Osteria; Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve and Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac, Neighborhood Restaurant Group.


  • throw in cocktails by Derek Brown of The Columbia Room and Gina Chersevani + Chocolate city beer and Boxwood winery wines
  • invite a fine balance of food dignitaries (Susan Ungaro, the president of the James Beard foundation) to mix in with the local power (yes, Vince Gray was there)
  • establish strong partnerships with the likes of Roadside Food Projects, FOOD CORPS and Edible DC
  • raise over $100,000 for charity in the process
  • make it all happen without a hitch
  • and yes, you bet EVERYONE there WILL BE talking about it.

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Now that we got that out of the way-lets talk about the food. The evening kicked off with cocktail hour by (BYT Drink Diary alums) Derek Brown (a great gin based punch, perfect for summer) and Gina Chersevani (who will be one of the vendors at the Market, once it opens with a homemade soda shop)

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and a bites selection from some of DC’s favorite food purveyors like Rappahannock Oysters and Red Apron (Nate Anda’s dates wrapped in lardo with honey were a favorite)


Then, a few speeches and ceremonials later-it was time to sit down in front of a four course (+a palate cleanser) menu which really was a twelve course experience since each section of the menu showcased three of the chefs.  Now, this may seem like an intimidating proposal to some but thankfully, the room was filled with no one but the most enthusiastic (and pro and semi-pro) eaters around.


The first course featured pig trotters with soft boiled egg with Nick Stefanelli, a beautiful salad by Nora Pouillon and, what our table called “Stupid Good” (and make no mistake, that is VERY high praise) rose veal by RJ Cooper. Was that our belt that just left our outfit? Is there really 3 more courses to go?

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The seafood heavy second course ahead featured Scott Drewno’s angry sauce soft-shell crabs, grilled summer vegetables by Mike Isabella and absolutely OUTSTANDING scallops with a thyme and aged sherry butter emulsion by Robert Wiedmaier (probably the overall dinner favorite of our table, though with 23 other tables in the house, I am sure we could get into a fairly spirited compare-and-contrast discussion here if we decided to go the polling route)


the meat course featured a duck confit by Chatal Armstrong, a terrific shitake mushroom casserole by Fabio Trabbochi and a pumpernickel radiatore pasta with veal tongue by Bryan Voltaggio.

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a much needed palate cleanser of lemon and opal basil gelato, courtesy of Dolcezza followed and we closed the evening out with a goat cheese milk cheesecake by Tiffany MacIsaac and a selection of chocolates from Co Co Sala. If it sounds like it was a great meal-it is because it was.

Hopefully we have a new DC food tradition on our hands.

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