Drink Your Dinner

Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:02am

A handful of renowned D.C. chefs, including two Capitol Hill tastemakers, will vie for the “Hop Chef” crown April 28 during Brewery Ommegang’s inaugural beer-cooking competition, a barley-and-hops-fueled fete coming to the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE).

Those savvy enough to sign on as guest tasters — attendance is being capped at 200; reserve your spot ($75 per person) here — will have the opportunity to sample custom beer-spiked dishes prepared by several area chefs.

They include Michael E. Bonk, executive chef at Capitol Hill’s Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar; Brad Walker, chef/co-founder at the President Barack Obama-approved Boundary Road on H Street; Jamie Leeds, chef and co-owner of Hank’s Oyster Bar (new location is opening soon on Capitol Hill!); Nicholas Stefanelli, executive chef at Bibiana; Will Artley, executive chef at Pizzeria Orso; Mark Marrocco, executive chef at Magnolias at the Mill; and Jeff Eng, executive chef at Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge. Proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s effort to fight childhood hunger.

Teddy Folkman, chef and co-owner at the H Street hot spot Granville Moore’s, told HOH he used his pull as Brewery Ommegang’s national culinary ambassador to bring the nascent cooking contest to the nation’s capital. “The competition has been in the mill for about two years,” Folkman said, adding that a cadre of passionate food lovers (such as high-end gourmet magazine Saveur) handpicked the participating chefs.

Though his restaurant is better known for its wine program, Bonk said he and Folkman — “He’s a regular at Sonoma,” Bonk asserted — have long kicked around plans to collaborate on beer dinners. Bonk said the Hop Chef challenge has provided the perfect excuse to fully “research” the broader Ommegang catalog.

Bonk declined to give too much of his strategy away but suggested that he’ll focus primarily on savory dishes and will definitely be incorporating Ommegang’s award-winning Three Philosophers ale into his recipes. And he hinted that a variation on one of his Hop Chef dishes might grace the Sonoma carte come summer.