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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: Byron Brown
  • Title: Executive Chef and Producer
  • Restaurant: Sensorium, “A 12-course meal interwoven with vinettes which are prodcued to heighten the culinary senses.”
  • Twitter: @DCSupperClub
  • Cooking Career: Professionally for 4 years. “I worked at Jaleo, Rustico and staged at Cork and Minibar, which taught me showmanship and molecular gastronomy.”
  • Random Fact: “I used to work for an association doing advocacy for higher education. It was right before the economic downturn and I had a narcissistic boss. I had an opportunity to bow out and I did. I changed careers and it’s been a radical sabatical for me.”
  • Favorite Vegetable: Artichokes. “The artichoke is one of those ingredients that is so mythical. The thing about this flower is it’s so versatile. It’s the marker for the spring—it sparks culinary inspiration after a hard, cold winter. My favorite way to cook it is steam it and make some butter-lemon sauce. It’s like opening up this present that gives you a little taste. And then you get to the heart, it’s like you get to eat this love. The leaves are a good crumb along the way. Follow the yellow brick road.”

  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Endive. “My least favorite vegetables are the ones that are more challenging to display in cuisines, such as the sort of bitter vegetables, like endives. It’s challenging to highlight it because it’s so bitter. You put salt and oil on a regular vegetable and they could rock it. Endives need a partner.”
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: “Me and my wife went to India and went down the Kerala. It’s a region that has the largest amount of rivers and streams and in the olden days they used the water for moving things across the country. When the industrial age hit, these ships didn’t have a use so they were converted to house boats. If you go there for vacation you could rent them out: they have kitchens, TVs, beds, baths and sometimes private chefs. The best food I had on the boat house was ivly. It’s like a fluffy dumpling—a small, little thing with rice flour dough consistency. They give you lentil-based sauces to eat it up with certain vegetables, like cabbage. It’s the Indian version of dim sum. I don’t know what the hell was in them, but they were spiced heavily. In Europe we highlight vegetables; in India they highlight spices.”
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Sensorium: “Cauliflower trio, utilizing four different colors of cauliflower with four different methods.”
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: “My wife is Indian (and a vegetarian) and I make her chana masala. Take garbonza beans from the can, add masala spices, onions, turmeric and tamarind sauce. You can even cheat sometimes and get store-made biscuits and dip them into the sauce.”

Photo Courtesy of Stacey Viera