Our Story
 

EQUINOX ORIGINS

Every plate coming from Equinox’s kitchen tells a story of place, and celebrates organic, mid-Atlantic root-to-stem cuisine through sophisticated, seasonal dishes.

Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray opened Equinox in 1999 to showcase innovative interpretations of classic American cooking. It has been recognized for excellence by Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Esquire, Gourmet, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and Town & Country.

Todd and Ellen’s cookbook, The New Jewish Table (St. Martin’s Press, 2013), tells the story of how they partnered to create new and meaningful family traditions.

Experience and philanthropy has been a cornerstone of Todd and Ellen’s philosophy, and they have worked closely with various organizations and leaders, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools,” which has had the greatest impact on affecting change in our nation's schools. The dialogue that began between chefs, students, and their families still continues today.


RECOGNITION & AWARDS

  • James Beard Foundation, five nominations for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic

  • Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s RAMMY Award for Best Fine Dining Restaurant & Chef of the Year

  • Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants

  • DiRoNA Award for Fine Dining

  • Washington Post’s Top 50 restaurants

  • Wine Spectator Award of Excellence

  • Town & Country’s Best Restaurant in Washington, DC

  • Conde Nast’s 60 Hot Tables

  • Bon Appetit’s Top Tables

  • Esquire’s Best New Restaurants

  • Gourmet’s America’s Top Tables, Newcomer

 
 
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Culinary Team

 

Chef Todd Gray

Chef/Owner

A leading advocate for sustainable farming, Todd Gray is committed to using only seasonal ingredients and supporting regional producers that champion sustainable farming practices.

Todd studied at the University of Richmond and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America, earning five nominations for James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” Award. He was the first chef to be invited to speak in the White House Rose Garden and was appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve as one of the inaugural State Department Chefs.

Along with his wife Ellen, Todd has developed many projects including Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, Watershed, and Muse at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Todd’s background in classical French and Italian techniques, proclivity for invention, and unflappable kitchen leadership has made him a sought-after mentor and influential leader in the world of gastronomy.

 

Ellen Kassoff Gray

Owner

Born and raised in D.C., Ellen Kassoff Gray earned an economics degree from the University of Maryland and studied at the University of London. After working in a kibbutz and a scuba diving boat in Israel, she moved home to work at Sysco, the largest food purveyor in the U.S. The most productive sales call she ever made was to a young chef named Todd Gray.

A trailblazer among D.C.’s influential community, Ellen has been named Manager of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), and received the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) Golden Fork Award for Front-of-the-House Excellence. A longtime mentor for WCR, Ellen is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

A passionate animal welfare advocate, Ellen founded the Washington Humane Society’s Sugar & Champagne Gala, raising $1M in its first 13 years. She is on the board of the Washington Jewish Community Center, and supports charitable events including Chefs for Equality, Zoofari, and Taste of the Nation.

Ellen Kassoff Gray is the driving force behind Harvest Moon and Quince Hospitality enterprises, and Equinox’s critically-acclaimed, plant-based fine dining.

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Randy Cole

General Manager

Randy is one of Equinox’s longest employees. He began working at Equinox in 2003 as a host and has continued to manage the door ever since. He’s added quite a few responsibilities to his list including managing our reservations, the FOH staff, systems enhancement, and interior design. He is a consummate organizer and even has a side business called Uncluttered By Cole. He keeps us all pretty organized! Originally from Oil City Pennsylvania, he attended the University of Pittsburg and earned a degree in English - therefore he is always editing the menus. Before joining Equinox Randy worked at several DC restaurants including Palamino. Randy is an avid supporter of many charitable organizations including Walk to End Alzheimers and Chefs for Equality.

CHELSEA ZINKGRAF

Director of Special Events

Chelsea started as a hostess where she was able to familiarize herself with Equinox’s clientele. As the Director of Special Events, Chelsea manages 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.

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Peter Grimm

Beverage Director

Peter has worked in the hospitality industry for most of his life and currently manages the beverage program at Equinox. His life-long passion for food, beverage, and hospitality started at an early age. Born in the U.S. to Chilean parents, Peter also has German, Italian, and Basque roots. He has lived all over the world and been exposed to many different cultures. Before joining Equinox, Peter worked at Chef Geoff's Downtown. He also trained in the culinary arts in San Sebastian, Spain where he learned from Michelin starred chefs. He brings that experience and passion to Equinox’s bar program.

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Walter Silva

Chef D Cuisine

Silva previously held culinary positions at Vola’s Dockside, The Majestic, The Riggsby, and Rosa Mexicana. He received his culinary arts and chef’s training at Stratford University.