Capital Food Fight 2019: A Win for All

Chef Marcelle Afram took home the top honor on November 6 at the DC Central Kitchen’s signature fundraising event, Capital Food Fight. Battle # 1 featured a cook off between Kyoo Eom of Dirty Habit against Afram, in which Aram took the round. Battle #2 featured Adam Greenberg of Coconut Club going head-to head with Johanna Hellrigl of Mercy Me , which Hellrigl won. In the end, Afram took home the title.

This year’s Capital Food Fight brought together over 2,000 guests at The Anthem, with 80 tasting restaurants and live on-stage entertainment. Battling chefs were asked to create dishes using secret ingredients ranging from Simply Seasoned Plant-Based Protein Starters presented by Pure Farmland, a Smithfield Foods brand, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, presented by Keany Produce and Gourmet and Frieda’s Specialty Produce, and Global Animal Partnership Rated Dry Aged Tomahawk Steak presented by Whole Foods Market.

DC Capital Food Fight 2019 Winner, Chef Marcelle Afram
DC Food Fight Winner, Chef Marcelle Afram
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen)
DC Capital Food Fight 2019 finalists Chef Johanna Hellrigl and Chef Marcelle Afram
Food Fight finalists Chef Johanna Hellrigl and Chef Marcelle Afram

Guests voted in the People’s Choice Mixology Competition, sponsored by Beam Suntory. Six mixologists poured specialty cocktails before Sophie Szych of Quill was named the 2019 People’s Choice winner for her creation, “Knobbing for Apples” prepared with Knob Creek Rye.

Nationally recognized celebrities came out in full force for the 16th year of Capital Food Fight. This year’s judges included Tom Colicchio (Bravo’s “Top Chef”), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington Nationals), Andrew Zimmern (“Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern), and Maneet Chauhan (celebrity chef and restaurateur). José Andrés, Carla Hall, and Spike Mendelsohn co-hosted the annual event, with DC radio personality Tommy McFly (“The Tommy Show”) serving as emcee alongside his show co-host Kelly Collis.

DC Capital Food Fight 2019 judges
DC Capital Food Fight 2019 judges

What distinguishes this event from many other DC fundraisers are the onstage antics from the co-hosts. On the heels of the Nationals World Series win and with Ryan Zimmerman as a judge, there were plenty of baseball related quips and the tossing of food items into the crowd. It’s one of DC’s most raucous events to be sure.

DC Capital Food Fight 2019 Carla Hall and Jose Andres
DC Capital Food Fight 2019 Carla Hall and Jose Andres
DC Capital Food Fight 2019  Jose Andres and Spike Mendolsohn
DC Capital Food Fight 2019 Jose Andres and Spike Mendolsohn

Capital Food Fight raised over $815,000 for DC Central Kitchen to continue its work fighting hunger differently in the nation’s capital, including generous donations made during the event and a special matching challenge from Stand Together Foundation.

Smithfield Foods was the presenting sponsor for the event. Smithfield Foods honors its responsibility to help families in need, and is well-placed to make a unique impact. Hunger relief is the cornerstone of the company’s social purpose. Through their support for food banks, disaster relief efforts, and community outreach programs, Smithfield helps raise both funding for, and public awareness of, food insecurity in the communities where their employees live and work. Since 2008, Smithfield has provided more than 140 million servings of protein to food banks, disaster relief efforts, and community outreach programs nationwide.

DC Central Kitchen earns more than half of its annual budget through social enterprise ventures that are powered and led by graduates of the organization’s acclaimed Culinary Job Training program for adults who have faced barriers to employment. The rest of DC Central Kitchen’s budget is secured through charitable fundraising efforts including the Capital Food Fight.

For a full listing of all Capital Food Fight tasting restaurants, competitors, hosts and judges, please visit

About DC Central Kitchen

DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) is an iconic nonprofit and social enterprise that combats hunger and poverty through job training and job creation. The organization provides hands-on culinary job training for individuals facing high barriers to employment while creating living wage jobs and bringing nutritious, dignified food where it is most needed. DCCK’s social ventures include serving scratch-cooked farm-to-school meals in DC schools, delivering fresh, affordable produce to corner stores in neighborhoods without supermarkets, and operating a fast-casual cafe. DCCK has been featured in national media including The Washington PostThe AtlanticNational GeographicPBS NewsHour, and more. To learn more, visit or follow @dccentralkitchen on Instagram.

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