By Melvin Felix
It’s Rosa’s, said chef Spike Mendelsohn, owner of the Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza restaurants on Capitol Hill, during a panel Wednesday. He explained that to eat at Rosa’s, you must find and call a secret phone number. The mysterious Rosa, a resident of Columbia Heights, answers and makes sure you’re downstairs before throwing a set of keys out her window. Once you let yourself into her apartment on the second floor of a residential building, you can feast on what Mendelsohn says are the best tacos he’s had.
The former Top Chef contestant joined the “Big Night, Big Jobs” panel at George Washington University, a discussion about the food business also featuring chefs Todd Gray of Equinox, Jose Andres of Jaleo and Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora. The panel was presented by GWU’s Urban Food Task Force and moderated by food writer Jane Black.
The chefs spoke of the sustainable ways they run their restaurants, although they didn’t always agree on methods. Andres, for example, is not a strong proponent of buying from local farmers as Pouillon has long done. “Our world is based on international commerce,” he said.
Pouillon told the story of how she made sure ducks she bought from a farmer were actually swimming in a pond by going to the farm and driving them to the water. She joked that now she gets complaints that the duck breasts are “too tough.”
Gray, whose Equinox restaurant sets customers back an average $80 each, said the word “sustainability” is abused. He said he worries about the life of his restaurant – from the wages he pays busboys to the profit he makes at the end of the day – just as much as he does about the raw food ingredients he buys.