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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: Robert Gadsby
  • Title: Corporate Chef
  • Restaurant: Ridgewells Catering
  • Twitter: No, no, no… (laughs).
  • Cooking Since: Twenty plus years. First Italy, then France, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. I’ve been in the U.S. since the late ’80s.
  • Random Fact: I was in MMA (mixed martial arts), but back then it was called kick boxing. I was the England, Scotland and Wales champion and then from there my highest category was European champion in feather weight for two and a half years. I still train everyday and do 100 push ups.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Butternut Squash. I grew up in a vegetarian house and I was a vegetarian until about 28 or 29. I’m more of a pescetarian now. My mother showed versatility with a simple thing like a gourd. My mother was ahead of her time.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Okra. Most people won’t eat it and just leave it on the plate. It’s too sticky. I don’t like the texture. (The English-born Gadsby pulls out a nasally American accent, mocking okra haters: “Nooo, I don’t like it.”)
  • Most Memorable Meatless Dish: My mother’s cooking. She made  butternut squash creme brulee (with cinnamon and nutmeg), pound cake, ice cream and spreads. It was unique.
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Ridgewells: Vietnamese rice paper rolls and filling it with asparagus, portobello mushrooms, cilantro stems and mint leaves and finishing with a spicy sauce, Sriracha. One, it’s vegan; two, it’s gluten free; and people think there’s meat in there. It fits anyone’s diet.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: Donburi: rice and fried vegetables. It’s Japanese and you can put anything on top, like bell peppers, avocado, tomato. While the rice is cooking, you quickly stir-fry the vegetables. You can add anything that’s left in the fridge and add a little soy sauce, water and Sriracha. It’s a quick toss and there you go.

Photo by Eli Turner Photography