Todd Gray

Chef/Co-owner of Equinox and Executive Chef of Market Salamander.

"I have used Cervena Venison for over 15 years.  My wife and I were first introduced to it when we visited New Zealand.  We saw first hand their farming methods.  The care and attention these animals receive is what makes the meat so immaculate.  Cervena is what made us realize that humane care and handling really does affect the product.  All this combined with the healthful benefits of venison make Cervena a natural, humane & healthy choice."  

Chef Todd Gray Talking about Cervena Venison

Since opening Equinox in 1999 to universal acclaim, Todd Gray has emerged as one of the surest culinary talents in the nation’s capital, as well as a tireless champion of sustainable farming and fishing practices, and a leader in promoting Certified Humane meat and poultry products. Gray practices what he preaches every day, and Equinox is widely acclaimed as an oasis of sophisticated yet unpretentious seasonal cuisine.

Gray’s cooking has earned him five nominations for the prestigious Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic award from the James Beard Foundation. He also is a four-time nominee for Chef of the Year from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.  Equinox has consistently been rated one of the city’s top restaurants by The Washington Post and Washingtonian, and has appeared on numerous “best of” lists in national epicurean magazines. Equinox has achieved Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence six years in a row, and was recently recognized with the Award of Excellence from the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNa).

With his wife and business partner, Ellen Kassoff Gray, Gray co-chaired Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation fundraiser to fight hunger in Washington, DC for four years, increasing the event’s public profile and galvanizing the support of a broad range of local restaurants. They designed A Sugar & Champagne Affair which has raised funds in Washington, DC and New York for humane law enforcement. They are leading advocates for sustainable fisheries management as well as humane treatment of farm animals, and were among the first restaurateurs to commit to the use of Certified Humane meats. The Grays are especially proud of their son Harrison, born shortly after the restaurant opened. He has admirable kitchen skills for a six-year-old and has been the inspiration for Equinox’s cooking classes for kids. Gray regularly offers hands-on cooking classes for all ages, and is a guest instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine, the Washington area’s premier professional cooking school.

Gray has served as culinary consultant to several outside organizations, including the United States Supreme Court, the International Trade Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, and the Sports Club, LA - Washington, DC. Gray is working with entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Sheila Johnson in Middleburg, Virginia as executive chef of Market Salamander and culinary director for Salamander Inn & Spa, which is currently under development.

As a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Gray’s culinary sensibilities owe much to the foods of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the Blue Ridge valleys. While waiting tables as an undergraduate art student at the University of Richmond, Gray decided to shift his career focus to the culinary arts. He didn’t have to go far from home to begin his classical European training, working under Christian Renault at La Petite Auberge, a landmark restaurant in Fredericksburg. He completed his formal education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, then interned in some of the country's best kitchens including L’Orangerie, Citrus, and Patina.

In Washington, Gray spent four years with Master Chef Robert Greault at the legendary French restaurant, La Colline. Seven years with Chef Roberto Donna at the city’s premier Italian restaurant, Galileo, gave Gray a solid grounding in the traditions of the Italian Piedmont. Gray eventually became Galileo's first and only American chef de cuisine. While he held that position, Galileo won the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant, Mid-Atlantic.

Introductions from Donna opened the doors to stages, or culinary apprenticeships, in the same Northern Italian restaurants where Donna himself had trained. Gray also had the privilege to be one of the last chefs to stage in the kitchen of the late Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate. Even today, Gray continues his culinary development through stages with this country’s greatest contemporary chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

Favorite Cervena Preparations:

Grilled Cervena Salad with Young Romaine, Cherokee Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette… Cervena Venison Quesadilla with Monterey Jack, Avocado and Backyard Salsa … Seared Loin of Cervena with Meadow Rub, Roasted Summer Corm and Sugar Snap Peas

For some of Todd's best recipes, click here.

Chef Todd Gray