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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.

  • NameRyan Fichter
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Thunder Burger
  • Twitter: @Thunderburger
  • Cooking Since: I’ve been cooking pretty much since I was four and helping out with family dinners. Some people watch cartoons, I was watching cooking shows: Yan Can Cook and Julia Child. But professionally [cooking] since I was 16.
  • Random Fact: I’m an avid fisherman. In Hawaii, I used to kayak fish and row out into the Pacific and try to catch big. The largest was a 45-pound amberjack. Big-game fishing on a little boat is quite a thrill.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Zucchini. Growing up, my mom used to make these zucchini coins: brush them with butter and put some Parmesan, paprika, salt and pepper. It’s versatile.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Okra. It’s slimy. It’s just a funky vegetable.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: Moussaka, that a dear friend of mine used to make. The flavors, and the fact that I didn’t have to cook it [made it the most memorable meal.]
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Thunder Burger: Portobella mushroom sandwich that is marinated in Chardonnay wine, balsamic vinegar and  fresh herbs. It’s topped with Swiss cheese and walnut pesto.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: Take an angel hair pasta. Saute garlic in extra virgin olive oil until browned. Throw in red chili flakes, a white onion, zucchini and, at the very last second, I hit it with fresh chopped tomatoes and white wine. Then I throw the pasta in. Finish it with a shave of parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery