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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: Michael Fusano
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Cities Restaurant and Lounge
  • Cooking Since: Twelve years professionally, but pretty much my whole life. I grew up in a strong Italian family and I always enjoyed cooking.
  • Random Fact: I used to race on a cycling team, XXX Racing, in Chicago. It’s one of my escapes and freedoms. There’s not many times that you have for yourself with no cell phone. I’m just alone with my thoughts. I find that kind of relaxing.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Spinach. I’ve always loved spinach ever since I was a kid. There’s a lot of things you can do with it professionally. Personally, I love the taste and it’s one of the healthiest vegetables out there.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Bitter melon. It’s gross. Just gross. It looks like a cucumber, but it tastes like rubber bands. Not that I’ve eaten rubber bands…
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: There’s a vegan restaurant in Evanston (Illinois) and they have this simple dish: seitan Thai stir fry with Thai chillies. Seitan is one of my favorite foods, although it doesn’t sound like it’s very good. It has good flavor and a lot of body to it.
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Cities: Caprese with yellow tomatoes, which tend to be more consistent and a bit sweeter. I prefer them over red. I think it’s a classic dish and it’s refreshing and perfect for spring time. Our presentation is wonderful: we give it a little bit of “food-itecture.”
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: A dish that I used to cook for my mom and we would eat three to four times a week. Bread tofu with brown rice flower, pan fry it in olive oil and serve it with couscous and put a ton of vegetables in with it with lime juice and soy. It’s light and refreshing and still healthy.

Photo Courtesy of Cities