People standing in stair with group for photoshoot
Photography by Clay Williams

Picture, for a moment, a Marvel Universe-sized group of characters but make them chefs. While each has a unique culinary style and background, they all unite (in identical aprons) in cities across the country to pull off multi-course dinners where they playfully balance, one-up, and assist each other to the delight of local food fans. This is Indie Chefs Week. 

Part of Indie Chefs Community, ICC bills Indie Chefs as an “anti-food festival” — the communal dinners support chefs, champion social justice, and address systemic issues facing the hospitality industry.  They also introduce guests to creations as varied as Dirty Rice Arancini with XO Sauce Aioli (from Indie Chef Armani Johnson of ABC Pony in Washington, DC) to Scallop Tartare with North Carolina Passion Fruit and Fancy Saltines (from Indie Chef Annie Pettry of Fairview, NC.)

ICC came to the LINE DC this month with more than 20 chefs for a week hosted by our own Opie Crooks. To get to know the chefs better we sprang up in the kitchen and asked for an off-the-cuff response to an age-old question for cooks and diners: What are the most overrated and underrated ingredients? 

Mavis-Jay Sanders, Drive Change, Brooklyn, NYIndie Chefs Week DC Dish: Collards, Pecans, Pig Ear

Underrated: Mushrooms. It’s been a great year with the weather on the East Coast. Our foragers are really bringing in great ones, with great flavor. Overrated: Cooked strawberries. They come out of the ground perfect! Why are you messing with God’s creations?

Tim Ma, Lucky Danger, Washington DCIndie Chefs Week DC Dish: Sichuan Congee, Fried Dace, Chinese Sate, Thousand Year Old Egg

Overrated: Squash. Underrated: Lime. People don’t realize how many things you can do with it—like dehydrate it—and how much it changes a dish.

Jamilka Borges, Pittsburgh, PAIndie Chefs Week DC Dish: Yellowfin Tuna Aquachile, Crispy Batata, Coconut, Pickled Jalapeño, Mojo

Overrated: Truffles, caviar. They’re good, but not all the time. Sometimes they mask flavors. Underrated: Mustard greens, radish tops. We don’t use these a lot because they have a bitterness, but they are great sautéed with pasta and rice.

Aisha Momaney, Gravitas, Washington, DCIndie Chefs Week DC Dish: Rootbeer Birch Foam, Rootbeer Three Ways, Sarsaparilla Ice Cream. 

Since I’m doing dessert, I’m going with spices. Overrated: Cinnamon. Underrated: Cardamom.

For your own serving of Indie Chefs, follow ICC for upcoming dinners in a city near you. 

a lady and a guy arranging food in the bowls
People talking to waiter and laughing
two ladies sitting with drinks and clapping
many plates of food on the table
Manpeople serving food into the plates
Man hand serving food in many plates
Snack food with design on table

Photos by Clay Williams

Washington, DC / Food & Drink
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