Washington, D.C. had a taste of the Vineyard last month when three Island chefs traveled to the nation’s capital to participate in Sips and Suppers. The annual fundraiser brings together the country’s top chefs for Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen, two soup kitchens in the area.
Vineyard chefs Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch Catering in Edgartown, Teddy Diggs of the Home Port in Menemsha and Regina Stanley of the ArtCliff Diner in Vineyard Haven brought Vineyard-raised shellfish, meat and vegetables to the Jan. 22 event. Each chef was paired with other chefs to prepare a multi-course dinner for 20 people at various homes throughout the D.C. area. Tickets started at $550 a plate, and the event raised close to $300,000.
Martha’s Table provides food and clothing programs, and DC Central Kitchen provides job training and meal distribution to homeless and unemployed adults with histories of addiction and incarceration.
Ms. Buhrman, whose diners included acclaimed farm-to-table chef Alice Waters and White House chef Sam Kass, served Katama oysters and bay scallops as her first course. She worked alongside Rob Weyland of Cork in Washington, DC.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet and connect with people who are trying to make a difference in the food world,” she said, adding she’d like to see a similarly styled event on the Vineyard in the near future.
Ms. Buhrman and Mr. Weyland also prepared a braised rabbit with leeks, cabbage warmed with apples, market greens and a barley risotto.
Mr. Diggs, a former Washington, D.C. chef, said he was excited to return to his old stomping grounds for a good cause, and had the chance to work with some of the D.C. Central Kitchen graduates. Mr. Diggs has assisted chef friends in the past, but this was his first year being invited as a lead chef.
But the company wasn’t too unfamiliar – Mr. Diggs cooked at Sarah and Bob Nixon’s home in Georgetown. Mr. and Mrs. Nixon own the Home Port.
Mr. Diggs also brought scallops, oysters and some kelp from Menemsha Beach.
“It was terrific,” he said. “It was a whirlwind experience and I’m so glad I got to bring the scallops and signature oysters.”
Mr. Diggs was paired with KoJo Nnamdi, an NPR host, and Barton Seaver, a former chef who now is “on a mission to talk about restorative ecosystems” and how it applies to the food system, something Mr. Diggs and the Nixons are very focused on at the Home Port, he said.
Together they made a Vineyard bay scallop tartar, a roasted winter vegetable salad, Alaskan salmon, braised lamb shoulder and striped bass soaked in Menemsha kelp with water grilled over peach wood embers.
Todd Christy of Chilmark Coffee donated some grounds for Mr. Diggs’s dinner.
It was also a homecoming for Ms. Stanley, a former Blair House chef, who brought down Vineyard cranberries, Morning Glory Farm winter vegetables, Grey Barn pork and Nantucket blackberries.
Ms. Stanley, who cooked with Washington, D.C. Chefs Ruth Gresser of Pizza Paradiso and Douglas Singer of Pete’s New Haven Pizza, cooked at another Vineyard family’s home – Hank and Carol Goldberg. Together they made a cranberry chutney with potato pancakes and duck confit, Morning Glory Farm vegetable soup with Grey Barn Farm pork.
While the evening was an exciting event, it was the night before the fund-raiser, when Ms. Stanley had the opportunity to meet DC Central Kitchen participants who made an impact.
“I met a lot of people who were in homeless shelters and just out of prison going through the cooking program, and it was nice to meet people who had opportunity to work in the trade,” she said. “They were really interested in what they were doing . . . I even got a couple phone numbers for people to come up and work for me.”