Recognition & Awards

  • James Beard Foundation: Five times nominated for Best Chef Mid Atlantic
  • Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s RAMMY Award for Best Fine Dining Restaurant & Chef of the Year
  • Washingtonian magazine’s 100 Very Best Restaurants
  • DiRoNA Award for Fine Dining
  • Washington Post top 50 restaurants
  • Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
  • Town & Country magazine’s Best Restaurant in Washington, DC
  • Conde Nast magazine’s 60 Hot Tables
  • Bon Appetit magazine’s Top Tables
  • Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants
  • Gourmet magazine’s America’s Top Tables: Newcomer
 

Our Story
 

Chef Todd C. Gray & Ellen Kassoff Gray opened Equinox in 1999 to showcase their shared passion for food and hospitality that truly makes a difference within Washington D.C.’s vibrant culinary community. While focusing on innovative interpretations of classic American cuisine, Todd and Ellen have shaped as much as they have embraced a distinctly Mid-Atlantic cuisine in the last two decades. Every plate coming from Todd’s kitchen tells a story of place, celebrating mid-Atlantic cuisine through sophisticated seasonal dishes.

Combining their restaurant expertise with philanthropy has also been a cornerstone of Todd and Ellen’s philosophy. Dedicated and active advocates for sustainable agriculture, fisheries and humanely raised animals; they also support numerous charities such as Children's Hospital, The EDCJCC (Jewish Community Center of DC), The National Zoo.  They created A Sugar & Champagne Affair, a distinct event that united pastry chefs and champagne producers for a dog-friendly evening that benefited the Washington Humane Society, which raised some $800,000 in its  14 year history. 

The two were uniquely involved with shaping the food policies of the Obama White House. They worked closely First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor Sam Kass to help develop and launch what would become the most significant movement for Chefs all over the world: “Chefs Move to Schools.” It had had the greatest impact on affecting change in our nation's schools and began the dialogue between chefs, our country's students, and their families. A conversation which continues today. 

Todd and Ellen’s first cookbook, The New Jewish Table (St. Martin’s Press, 2013), tells the story of how the couple melded their culinary and personal lives to create new and meaningful family traditions. They live with their son in Washington, DC and can often be seen commuting three miles to the restaurant on their bicycles.

Chef Todd Gray
Owner

Chef Todd Gray: Raised in Virginia, Chef Gray studied at the University of Richmond and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. As a five-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Award, Todd’s background in classical French and Italian techniques, proclivity for invention, and unflappable kitchen leadership has made him a sought-after culinary mentor and an influential leader in the world of D.C. gastronomy.  Celebrating eighteen years  at Equinox, Gray has won top awards for his culinary excellence.

 Upon graduation from the CIA, he worked with a number of fine dining restaurants on the East & West Coasts, where he honed his craft, philosophy and grounding in classical French and Italians techniques making him one of the nation’s top chefs.

Todd Gray's cooking style is reflective of his roots in the mid-Atlantic region. A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Gray is renown for his inventive interpretations of American cuisine infused with the flavors of the Eastern Seaboard.  As one of DC's leading advocates for sustainable agriculture, fisheries and humanely raised animals, he is committed to using local foods and seasonal ingredients, supporting regional growers and producers that champion sustainable farming practices.

In 1999, he and his wife, Ellen Kassoff Gray, opened their own restaurant, Equinox, which quickly caught the attention of the city's gourmands. That year, it received Esquire magazine's Best New Restaurants (East) award and was chosen by the readers of Gourmet Magazine as one of America's Top Tables.  Since then, it has been recognized for its excellence by Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Town & Country, to name just a few. Chef Gray was awarded the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington's (RAMW) 2008 award for Best Fine Dining. He has been nominated for five James Beard Foundation's Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic, received eight nominations for RAMW's Chef of the Year, winning that honor in 2011. Collectively, he and Ellen were recognized as the 2011 Foodservice Leaders of the year by Food Service Monthly.

 Back in 2010 Todd was called on by First Lady Michelle Obama to kick off the nations first Chefs to Schools program. He had the opportunity to be the first chef ever to be invited to speak in the White House Rose Garden to chefs who gathered from all over the country to take part in the new movements kick off. He thereafter  remained close with The White House food initiatives.

Chef Gray was appointed in 2012 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve as one of the inaugural State Department Chefs. He also joined the board of the Norwegian Seafood Council, a promoter of healthy, sustainable fishing methods. 

Todd has developed many projects from  opening up Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, to opening Watershed, a casual seafood concept in North East DC. In 2011, Todd and Ellen createda museum cafe and catering service for the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Embracing the challenge of adding vegan cuisine to his menu at the urging of his wife and partner Ellen, Todd has also garnered critical acclaim for developing innovative vegan fine dining brunch and dinner menus. In late 2017, Todd and Ellen embark on opening two foodservice concepts in the new Museum of the Bible in South West Washington.

 

Ellen Kassoff Gray
Owner

Ellen Kassoff Gray is the co-owner of Equinox Restaurant, one of DC’s most lauded and respected fine dining establishments. A consummate manager and marketing professional, Kassoff Gray is a trailblazer among Washington, D.C.’s hospitality movers and shakers.

Groomed for success via years of experience in gourmet food sales, economics, and program management, Kassoff Gray manages operations and community involvement for all the Harvest Moon Hospitality Group enterprises. She was named Manager of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2007, and in 2009 she received the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) Golden Fork Award for Front-of-the-House Excellence. A longtime mentor for Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Kassoff Gray is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. 

Working side-by-side with husband and co-owner, Chef Todd Gray, Ellen is the driving force behind the restaurant’s critically acclaimed vegan fine dining offerings, including Equinox’s famous Vegan Brunch.

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Kassoff Gray earned an economics degree from the University of Maryland and studied abroad at the University of London, which led her to work on Wall Street for several years. She lived in Israel for two years spending her time between a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights and in Elat working on a scuba diving boat.  Eventually she moved back home to DC to take a job with Sysco, the largest food purveyor in the United States. The most productive sales call she ever made was to a young chef named Todd Gray.

Among her many accomplishments, Kassoff Gray is the co-author of the New Jewish Table (St. Martin’s Press, 2013) and is working with Chef Gray to open and run two dining destinations at the new Bible Museum, which will be opening in Washington, DC in fall 2017.

Kassoff Gray is an avid activist and leader in DC’s philanthropy world. A passionate animal welfare advocate, she was on the board of the Washington Humane Society for many years and founded the organization’s Sugar & Champagne Gala, helping to raise nearly a million dollars in its first 13 years. Kassoff Gray is on the board of the Washington Jewish Community Center and supports numerous charitable events including the Human Rights Campaign’s Chefs for Equality, Zoofari, and Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation fundraiser to fight hunger. For the past five years, the Grays have been involved with DC Public School’s and various local independent schools to mentor young students and she has created an accredited internship program for high school and college students.

Ellen Kassoff Gray lives with her husband, Chef Todd Gray, their son Harrison, and a variety of four-legged companions in Washington, DC. 

Colin McClimans
Chef dE Cuisine

Native Washingtonian Colin McClimans is a true competitor; and in the kitchen, that’s a good thing to be. It takes stamina. It takes tenacity and the ability to work under the heat of pressure; and of course, it takes talent. So it’s not surprising that this former college Lacrosse champion took his inspiration to one of the District’s finest restaurants, Equinox.

McClimans brings his passion for the personal touch, love of everything from breakfast foods (and even the occasional Oreo) to sweetbreads and thirst for reaching an even higher level in his craft to Equinox’s team where he now serves as sous chef.

Colin began what would be his future vocation at a tender age at the family’s stove with his parents—both good home cooks. He became interested not only in the food, but in restaurants—how they worked; the comradery of the kitchen; the team effort—ever the consummate sportsman. While coaching sailing in Ohio at the age of 12, he began working in a kitchen of a local eatery in the evening—and a career was born.

He has worked in some larger kitchens, but it was the call back home to his favorite city, Washington, DC and the thought of a more focused kitchen and accomplished Executive Chef which brought him to the acclaimed restaurant—and his philosophy fits right in:

“Work hard and take pride in your work. Your reputation and the quality of your work will always be looked at by customers and chefs. Never give anyone a reason to question your work. Hold yourself to the highest standards and you will succeed.”

CHELSEA ZINKGRAF
DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL EVENTS

Started as an intern coordinating Chef Demos at CHoP Farmers Market. Worked on the floor as a hostess where I was able to familiarize myself with our clientele. I started doing events in April of 2011. As the Director of Special Events I manage all private dining and in-house special events such as wedding receptions, business lunches/dinners and other social events for parties ranging from eight to 110 people. I also help with catering proposals and contracts.