Judges declared Pastry Chef Caitlin Dysart of 2941 restaurant and her model Anastasia Matsiushenka winners of the best chocolate fashion costume at the Heart of America Foundation’s Charity In Chocolate gala at the Oriental Mandarin Hotel Friday night.
Dysart is no stranger to honors. In April, she was one of the 50 pastry chefs in the U.S. nominated for FOOD & WINE Magazine’s The People’s Best New Pastry Chef Award.
Thirteen restaurant chefs and models participated in the runway competition. Dysart won with her costume creation of a Snow Queen made with chocolate. Her restaurant is in Falls Church.
More than 800 guests attended Charity In Chocolate, where booth after booth showcased the offerings of more than 56 restaurants, which included chocolate desserts, entrees of every kind, specialty liquors and other culinary items.
There was a distinct display of food from Italy to celebrate 2013 -- the official Year of Italian Culture in the United States. Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and Mrs. Bisogniero were honorary co-chairs of the gala.
The Heart of America Foundation is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington and promotes volunteer service and literacy.
The special displays of Italian-themed food were huge hits at the event. Participating were Café Milano’s pastry chef Antonio Lisbino; Dolcezza gelateria; Graffiatos’ executive chef/owner Mike Isabella; and Sapore Oil & Vinegar.
One over-the-top happy attendee was Sicily-born Joe Farruggio, owner of il Canale Ristorante and Pizzeria Napoletana in Georgetown, whose lucky ticket won him a Tuscany vacation to the quaint Italian villa of La Bandita Townhouse in Pienza, a town in central Italy. In the winning package, Farruggio also gets a chance to visit the Perugina Chocolate School to acquire some hands-on knowledge of how those master chocolatiers create their incomparable sweets.
In a draw viewed by the 800 guests, the Italian Ambassador picked the winning ticket from a revolving cage on stage that contained several hundred raffle stubs. Also included in the prize was six bottles of wine chosen by the Italian ambassador himself.
Imagine a world-class destination resort an hour from Georgetown. Sheila C. Johnson did. The long-anticipated Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg opens Thursday, August 29, 2013.
The 340 acre property was designed to blend into the surrounding rolling countryside and respect the traditions of Johnson’s own nearby Virginia farm, which served as architectural inspiration. Salamander Resort & Spa features 168 rooms and suites originally fashioned by renowned designer Thomas Pheasant.
“From the moment I stepped foot on this serene land 10 years ago, I fell in love with it and envisaged creating an iconic retreat – one where guests would enjoy life-changing experiences complemented with exceptional service,” said Johnson, whose vision and unfailing persistence has endured. “As the resort approaches completion, I am extraordinarily proud of what we have created. It will serve several purposes to many, including a gathering point for the community, a political retreat for Washington, D.C., and an exciting new destination for travelers from all over the world.”
In 2005, Johnson founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts to manage the development of the project. But it's been over 50 years ago that Middleburg captured the nation’s attention. Already the nation’s unofficial equestrian capital and a town that played prominent roles in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, it was then-President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy who drew the media in. The world followed Jackie, an avid equestrian, as she spent hours riding – including on the Salamander property – while the President even held press conferences in the village.
Today, Middleburg still remains a one-stoplight-village with quaint stores and historic sites. And now, at the end of a winding, half-mile driveway, there's Salamander Resort & Spa. Their culinary program is overseen by award-winning Chef Todd Gray of Equinox restaurant in Washington, D.C. And the Gold Cup Wine Bar is designed like a winery tasting room with flites of wine from around the world and a creative menu that offers small plates inspired by the Italian Piedmont.
Speaking of wine, Salamander Resort is positioned at the center of Northern Virginia’s emerging wine country. The area’s winemakers will regularly offer tastings at the resort.
“Salamander Resort & Spa may be in one of the most exclusive locations in the country, but its access from major cities around the world is unparalleled,” said Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “In addition to the close proximity to Dulles, it is only 60 minutes from Reagan National Airport and 90 minutes from Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The resort’s geography, facilities and setting complement each other beautifully, and there is now an exciting new option for meeting or wedding planners seeking a one-of-kind, undiscovered destination.”
Rates during peak season at Salamander Resort & Spa range from $425 to $575 per night and non-peak season rates begin at $275 per night. Suite pricing ranges from $775 to $3,500 per night. Special group rates, pre-opening packages and creative teambuilding options are also available.
The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is sponsoring Summer Restaurant Week 2013 from August 19th through August 25th. Enjoy prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner at many of your favorite Washington, DC restaurants.
Check out the complete list of participating restaurants here, and note that Georgetown has 14 including the new Capella Hotel's Grill Room.