Recognition & Awards

  • James Beard Foundation: 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 inventive interpretations of classic American cuisine, Todd and Ellen have embraced a concept known in Japan as “putting the farmer’s face on the food” — and, indeed, you’ll find farm trucks chugging down Connecticut Avenue to bring the freshest local produce, seafood and meats to Equinox each day. 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, advocating for sustainable agriculture and fisheries and for humanely raised animals, while also supporting numerous charitable events such as the Human Rights Campaign’s Chefs for Equality and creating Sugar & Champagne (now PawFest) to benefit the Washington Humane Society to the tune of some $800,000 in its first 13 years. The two also expect their staff — over 120 employees, many who have been with them since the beginning — to make a difference in the community and choose to lead by example, including being recognized by the White House for their dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles for elementary students and their families as a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program.

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 to the restaurant by bicycle.

Chef Todd Gray

Raised in Virginia, Chef Gray studied at the University of Richmond and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America, honing his craft in the kitchens of chefs Roberto Donna and Jean-Louis Palladin; he recently joined the board of the Norwegian Seafood Council, a promoter of healthy, sustainable fishing methods.

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 menus. 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.

In 2008, Equinox Restaurant received a RAMMY Award for Best Fine Dining Restaurant from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2011, Chef Gray received a RAMMY Award for Chef of the Year. That same year, Chef Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray were named Foodservice Leaders of the Year by Food Service Monthly.


Ellen Kassoff Gray

A Washington, D.C. native, Ellen 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 before she moved back home 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.

Ellen manages operations and community involvement for all of the Harvest Moon Hospitality Group enterprises, receiving the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) Golden Fork Award for Front-of-the-House Excellence in 2009 after being named Manager of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2007. A longtime mentor for women chefs and restaurateurs, she is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

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.”

Cynthia Ruane
Pastry Chef

Equinox’s Executive Pastry Chef Cynthia Ruane is best known for her modern flavor profiles and innovative techniques. Most recently, Cynthia worked as Executive Pastry Chef at PRG Hospitality designing and executing seasonal menus for three locations.

Prior to that, she was a pastry chef with Ridgewells Catering, leading a 10 member team on the PGA US Open and House of Representatives accounts. Cynthia has also worked at Cork Market and Tasting Room, Chef Geoff’s Restaurant Group, and Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Cynthia received her culinary training at the Institute for Culinary Education and the Baltimore International Academy.



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.