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Short ribs and baby octopus may dominate many menus in the city, but that doesn’t mean local chefs can’t find love in an acorn squash. In our ongoing series, Chefs Veg Out, we’ll prove D.C.’s chefs can play with more than just meat.

  • NameAri Gejdenson
  • Title: Chef/Owner
  • Restaurant: Acqua Al 2
  • Twitter@Acquaal2dc
  • Cooking Since: Seriously, about ten years ago. I’ve always cooked, but it’s been about 10 years non-stop of my life.
  • Random Fact: I collect a lot of old industrial stuff from 1920s through the 1940s. I got this factory tool cart that I use as my bookshelf and another one that I use as a weight station on the patio. It’s made out of steel and it’s just a solid piece of machine.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Zucchini. A grilled zucchini would be my favorite thing.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Radicchio. It’s very bitter and it has its place, but it’s not my favorite taste. But I use it a lot.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: falafel. The first time I had it was in Florence, for sure, and I was introduced to it as a late night food.  It’s a good, cheap way to go in traveling. Amsterdam Falafel is my go-to [in D.C.] and Cava’s fast-new casual concept [Cava Grill].
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Acqua Al 2: The cannelloni with ricotta and spinach. It’s a fresh pasta sheet and we roll with fresh ricotta and spinach and then we bake it in the oven with house-made tomato sauce and bechamel.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: I take eggplant, onions, zucchini and bell peppers, slice them thinly, mix around with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and grill them.

Photo by Llanco Talamantes