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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.

  • Name: Mark Henry
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Railstop Gastropub
  • Twitter: @RLSTPGastropub
  • Cooking Since: Over 20 years. I started in Jamaica and moved here in 1995, first Maine, New York, then D.C. I’ve cooked Italian, Persian, South American, French, European and a little bit of Asian.
  • Random Fact: I like playing golf. I’m still searching for that hole in one.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Chayote. Even though it’s a neutral in flavor, it can be adapted in different dishes. Growing up, my mom used to put it in soups. You can bake with it, using it like a mock apple.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Susumba. It’s a relative of the eggplant. It’s a small version, almost like a peach. You usually cook it with seafood or with starch to make a stewed rice. That’s what they cook at home with in Jamaica. It has a bitter taste to it and I just never acquired a taste. Although I love eggplant, it’s just ugh. Indescribable.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: Stir fry. My mom used to do this with chayote, julienned carrots, peppers and onions. Heat a little garlic, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. I could eat this all day.
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Railstop: Strudel, which has juliened mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and squash. Sautee with garlic, hit it with Marsala wine, add garam masala and Boursin cheese. Allow it to cool and then wrap it in puff pastry into a strudel shape, like a log, and brush with butter, then bake.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: Cabbage. Chop it up and cook in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and a little water, [serve] over jasmine or basmati rice. Sometimes I’ll add curry. My wife isn’t a big fan of Jamaican curry, so I’m the only one eating that. But my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter will eat it, too.

Photo Courtesy of Railstop Gastropub