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.

  • Name: Quanta Robinson
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • RestaurantBlack’s Bar & Kitchen
  • Cooking Since: Eleven years. My first job after school was McCormick and Schmick’s, diagonal to Black’s. I feel like I’ve been on this block for ten years.
  • Random Fact: (aka Do you have any hobbies?) I’m a workaholic.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Haricot Vert. I’ve always liked green beans. When I was younger green beans were really big for me. But haricot vert’s taste is a bit more refined and they present nicely in dishes. They’re good raw and cooked.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Carrots, because they were sweet. It was the only vegetable I liked when I was younger and I ate too much. My mom would cook it with brown sugar and butter, maybe nutmeg, and it’d be a sweet, sweet dish.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: My favorite vegetable dish was corn pudding that my mom used to make. It was just delicious. It was a custard dish with corn and cream. It was a request at every holiday. Everybody loved my mother’s cooking.
  • Best Off-the-Menu Vegetable Dish at Black’s: Pasta entree with vegetables, oil, pasta and vincotto. But we ask the customer exactly what they want.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: She’s (8-year-old daughter, Celeste) big on salads. She’s really big on vegetables, which surprises me. I make her basic Greek salads with olives, peppers, raw onion, capers, cucumbers (she’s big on cucumbers) and sometimes I’ll throw in raw spinach. I try to stay away from the cheese because it’s already too salty. I like to make them for her because it’s not a heavy dressing. Creamy dressings cover the flavor where oil and vinegar accentuate the actual dish.

Photo by Andrew Lightman