Chef Rock Harper of Queen's Mother gives out samples at the Taste of the Nation's event to benefit No Kid Hungry on May 15. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Chef Rock Harper of Queen's Mother gives out samples at the Taste of the Nation's event to benefit No Kid Hungry on May 15. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

It isn’t every day that can one find New Orleans chef Isaac Toups serving liver moose with red onion marmalade next to D.C. chef Reid Shilling who prepared deviled eggs that were as good as anything grandma could make.

But both executive chefs stood shoulder to shoulder under a tent in Franklin Square Sunday afternoon during the D.C. stop of the Taste of the Nation culinary event series in which hundreds spent $95 each to sample fine foods while helping to raise funds in the fight against childhood hunger.

Toups, owner of Toups’ Meatery in New Orleans, said coming to D.C. and taking part in Taste of the Nation was both special and much easier than competing on the Bravo TV show ‘Top Chef.”

“Here, children in the greatest country in the world are going without food — it’s a travesty and I won’t stand for it,” Toups said. “Back at Meatery, we feed everybody — we feed the kids, we feed the adults.”

Pamela Taylor, spokesperson for No Kid Hungry, which sponsored the event, said, “In D.C. as well as across the nation, one in six kids are facing hunger. It is so important that they start their day with a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch. That’s why these programs are so important.”

This year’s event was held in the newly renovated Franklin Park in downtown D.C. and featured culinary creations of bite-size fare, craft cocktails and delectable desserts created by celebrated chefs and mixologists.

Taste of the Nation No Kid Hungry, a national campaign with a $100 million budget, is supported by a number of organizations that include Citi, Sysco, Food Network, Kimpton and Open Table.

Guest chefs included: Matt Bell (Nashville), Timon Balloo (Miami), Brittanny Anderson (Richmond) and Gin Hall of Famed Mixologist Natasha Bahrami (St. Louis).

Featured restaurants included: All-Purpose, Bourbon Steak DC, Buffalo and Bergen, Captain Cookie, Cranes, Destino, Hiraya, Ice Cream Jubilee, Jackie, La Famosa, Metzger Bar & Butchery, Moon Rabbit, Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar, Preservation Biscuit Company, Queen Mother’s, Queen’s English, RASA, Ruthie’s All Day, Shilling Canning Company, Silver & Sons BBQ and Taco Bamba.

Shilling, owner of Shilling Canning Company at the Washington Navy Yard, said, “this event is great because it raises money for food desert awareness.”

“Kids don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” he said.

Chef Rock Harper, owner of Queen Mother’s Restaurant in Arlington, served fried chicken salad at the event. Harper, who specializes in fried chicken, talked about his business concept.

“Queen Mother’s was built on serving smiles, building community and honoring culture . . . to get people to empower themselves economically,” Harper said. “We hire people from the community exclusively.”

One of Harper’s employees, Alonzo Bradshaw, 28, said the event had a special meaning for him.

“I have been hungry,” Bradshaw said. “It was hard for my mother to raise two children as a single mother. We didn’t have a lot of lavish meals.”

Bradshaw now has his sights set on becoming a chef. 

“It means a lot because I love to create,” he said. “When you feed somebody and they have a smile on their face, it brings you joy.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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