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As part of CBS’ Washington Unplugged, Under 40, segment, Kaylee Hartung asked WaPo’s Ezra Klein, the paper’s blogger on economic and domestic policy and part-time food writer, five rapid-fire questions. Among them: What’s his favorite restaurant? His favorite place for happy hour? And his “favorite person to watch under 40 in D.C. right now”?

Klein’s answers:

  • Favorite restaurant: Palena for a regular Wednesday night dinner but Komi if you have “money to burn.”
  • Favorite place for happy hour: Bar Pilar
  • Favorite person to watch under 40 in D.C. right now: “I think Johnny Monis, the chef at Komi, is probably America’s greatest genius currently living.”

No matter how off the cuff, Klein’s last comment is a bold, strong endorsement of Monis, a chef who, despite his tremendous talent, has not won the Rising Star category at the James Beard Awards the past two years. Regardless, I didn’t find Klein’s choice questionable…until Hartung ended her segment by saying that the blogger is a vegetarian.

Come again?

How then could Klein call Monis a genius — or any chef who works with meats — if he hasn’t sampled a large portion of Monis’ creations? I e-mailed Klein for some clarification.

Klein wrote this in response:

I haven’t actually watched the CBS thing as I’m, err, embarrassed, but if they said I’m a vegetarian, they’re wrong. I just don’t eat much meat. I’ve written this publicly in the Post, but my thing is I give myself 5 meat meals (including fish) a month. Sort of strange, I grant you, but it works for me. One month, one of those meals was Komi. And it blew me away.