While the Obamas’ decision yesterday to celebrate the future First Lady’s birthday at Equinox may have been just a matter of convenience—-the restaurant, after all, is not far from the family’s temporary residence at the Blair House—I tend to think it was also symbolic. Barack and Michelle Obama had to know their first visit to a white-tablecloth restaurant in D.C. would generate a lot of media publicity, which is why I think they chose Todd and Ellen Gray‘s place on Connecticut Avenue NW.

Gray is one of D.C.’s pioneers in local, regional, sustainable cooking. The dude is so serious about sourcing his ingredients he raises his own line of Black Angus cattle. If you need a refresher course, or just an education, on Gray’s career, read Missy Frederick‘s interview last year with the chef for Washington Business Journal.

Of course, as he proved with Young & Hungry’s Shelf Reliance challenge last year, Gray can also make something out of nothing.