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Versatile Toques Aim to Tantalize Seafood Fans

Profish has reeled in a who’s who of award-winning local chefs for its fourth annual “Charity Off the Hook” event, a gourmet dine-around designed to net much needed funds for food- and education-related charitable organizations.

This year’s tasting bonanza is scheduled to take place on April 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place (3000 K St. NW). Tickets for the all-inclusive event are $125 per person; as a courtesy, the organizers have offered readers a discount for the dinner. Entering “ROLLCALL” in the promo code spot will shave $25 off the price of admission. (Roll Call has no business relationship with the event.)

According to Profish Director of Sustainability John Rorapaugh, the evening is all about sensational nosh, good fun and supporting the patchwork of charities that strive to assist those most in need across the region.

Beneficiaries of the fundraising gala include: Educated Eats, Seafood Nutrition Partnership, Wish-A-Fish Foundation, National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Mammovan, Miriam’s Kitchen and MicroGreens.

“With so many competition-based events, we wanted the focus of ours to be giving back to the community. So I guess the community is the winner!​” Rorapaugh told CQ Roll Call about the collegial format.

Rather than face off against one another, the participating chefs — Tony and Joe’s toque David Stein is expected to resume the role of host — will be tasked with working their respective magic on select proteins.

The anticipated crop of fresh-caught comestibles includes:

In addition to those signature creations, Rorapaugh said guests should expect to feast on invasive species-related hors d’oeuvres (think: blue catfish and Northern snakehead), freshly shucked oysters and wood-fired nibbles furnished by Profish spin-off, Ivy City Smokehouse.

“The smoked fish table is always a favorite!” he said of the perennial draw. Rorapaugh listed a Spanish mackerel crudo and Maryland crab dish floating around last year as personal favorites.

First-timer Crump may have quite the challenge ahead of her, given her aversion to certain oceanic spoils.

“I really don’t like working with lobster,” she confessed to CQ Roll Call. “People love them, but they really disgust me. The whole idea of cracking open the claws and digging the meat out just seems really yucky.”

Those not fully sold on sustainable dining ought to maybe consider easing into it, Crump suggested.

“Make your goal 80 percent organic,” she said of the admittedly pricey shopping tweak. “Every week, replace one thing that you usually buy packaged in the local or organic form and in a year’s time you will have hit 80 percent, which is a great place to be.” Starting with “anything you eat the skin of — apples, zucchini, peppers, etc.” is a good way to go, she counseled.

Fellow neophyte King is hoping to make a big splash with his take on halibut, offering up plans for a ramp juice-cured, lime-and-mirin soaked, Surryano ham-bolstered dish projected to be “chilled, rich and refreshing.”

The farm-to-table evangelist urges everyone to eat as locally as possible. “Joining a CSA is a great thing to do,” he said, billing the home-delivered goods as “the most affordable way to eat” next to visiting neighboring farmers markets.

“Being conscious of our environment is a very big deal. We all have to share this planet,” King said.

Those hoping to walk away away from the evening with more than just a bulging waistline are welcome to peruse the ephemera up for grabs as part of the silent auction. Per Rorapaugh, bids will be accepted on the donated goods and services from 6 to 9 p.m.

Featured items include: assorted restaurant dining experience packages; cookbooks signed by chefs Mendelsohn, Voltaggio, Mike Isabella and Sherry Yard; tickets to Washington Nationals games; a Nats jersey autographed by pitcher Stephen Strasburg; local brewery tours, and golf packages at Lansdowne Resort and Congressional Country Club.

As far as lobbying goes, Rorapaugh said he is actively working to lure D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to the event. And he, naturally, left the door open to welcoming any Capitol Hill types interested in joining the festivities.

“We have not targeted that audience, but it would make perfect sense that a politician would want to surround themselves with so many local charities under one roof,” he estimated.

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