Food Network Star Keeps Bumping Into Politics in Eat Tour of D.C.
With Mardi Gras quickly approaching, celebrity chef Jay Ducote, the self-proclaimed “food ambassador for South Louisiana,” spent a week eating his way through Washington and shared his thoughts on how hard it is to get away from politics in D.C., even when you try.
His main event was dinner at Acadiana on Feb. 2, which he hosted with the National Beer Wholesalers Association. He led the 20-person event through a Louisiana-themed beer-pairing dinner. “For the record, I feel like Acadiana did a remarkable job with the food,” he said. “Several of those dishes could have served at any restaurant in Louisiana without anyone blinking and eye.” Ducote studied economics and political science at Louisiana State University. “[College] taught me that I didn’t want to be a politician or even involved in politics for the rest of my life,” he said. “So of course we did a Mardi Gras-themed beer dinner in D.C. the day after the Iowa Caucus. I can’t go anywhere in this town without politics coming up.”
Ducote, a finalist on season 11 of “Food Network Star” had started off his food odyssey on Feb. 1 at Graffiato, fellow chef celebrity Mike Isabella’s restaurant.
For dinner that night he met up with fellow Food Network Star contestants Alex McCoy and Emilia Cirker, who both live in D.C., for dinner at Izakaya in Chinatown. “We had a six-course meal that was pretty freaking awesome,” he said of the Japanese restaurant.
For lunch Tuesday, Ducote went to a mainstay of D.C.’s political food ground, Old Ebbitt Grill, right next door to the White House.
“I had the steak frites. I could have missed it. But I’m still glad I crossed it off my list,” he said. More memorable than the food was “political conversations echoed throughout the restaurant,” he said. “The caucus results couldn’t be overlooked.”
For happy hour he veered back to Chinatown and to Poste and The Partisan. “I felt right at home,” he said of The Partisan.
The next day, Ducote braved another institution, Occidental Grill & Seafood, to try its crab cake. “The crab cake indeed proved to be legit,” he said. “I’d go back.”
He went back to the Partisan for a pre-Happy Hour drink, than was picked up by the beer wholesalers again to tour their Alexandria office, following that up with the Old Town speakeasy, PX. “I really dug the atmosphere,” he said. “So hipster, but also enjoyable.” Also in Old Town, he went to the Virtue Feed and Grain and enjoyed its braised pork shank and Daniel O’Connell’s for a night cap.
For lunch on Feb. 3, he went to Raskia in Chinatown, which he said was amazing. “I’d go back there in a heartbeat,” he said.
He stopped to work on his food and drink blog at the Peregrine Espresso on 14th Street and for dinner he tried McCoy’s new Thai restaurant, Alfie’s, near Petworth.
For coffee the next day, he enjoyed the “cool communal space” of the 14th Street coffee shop, the Wydown, then went to happy hour at nearby ChurchKey.
For dinner, he went to ChurchKey’s sister establishment BlueJacket in Navy Yard to sample the food, adding, “The beers were all super on-point as well.”
He then left right in time to enjoy the lead-up to Mardi Gras back home in Louisiana.
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