Interview with Chef Todd Gray of Equinox – Washington, DC

November 2010

Francoise Villeneuve: Tell me about your restaurant renovation, and how it all came together.

Todd Gray: We had an unfortunate fire on December 17th of last year. We changed the overall feel of the restaurant to be more contemporary to compliment the modern direction of our menu. We are really happy with how everything turned out and it seems to be well received.

FV: Congratulations, it’s a beautiful restaurant. And the dinner was seamless. How did you pull it off? What are your tricks?

TG: As we all know, seamless food and service does not happen without a great staff. Not only was our kitchen staff on point but also our front of the house team paid attention to every detail from start to finish.

FV: How many covers do you do at Equinox? Can you manage the same number of covers post-renovation?

TG: We are now able to seat a little over 90. So I am comfortable with numbers between 100 and 125. I don’t like doing big volume as it becomes a strain on quality detail. I designed the post-renovation menu to be a little bit more speed effective. That has helped us push up volume slightly.

FV: What about all the various ingredients—how did you conceive the menu?

TG: I chose the menu item based on product availability from my ever-so-wonderful friends and suppliers. I tried to do something in keeping with my Equinox style, yet integrating a bit of modern culinary technology [such as] using the cumin protein cracker.

FV: When you redid the restaurant, did you splurge and take the opportunity to upgrade anything in the kitchen? I notice you have new refrigerated drawers.

TG: I did as much as was possible in the kitchen. My space is only 700 square feet. We put in new ranges, new refrigeration, and designed the space with more effective flow. We are still figuring out our new space. But we love it!