Back in January, women [yet again] made history by organizing the largest peaceful demonstration ever to take place after a U.S. Presidential inauguration. Actually, it's very safe to say that the Women's March on Washington was the most attended peaceful demonstration that ever occurred not only in the United States, but around the world. Women are pretty freakin' awesome, huh?
Since November 9th, a sense of fear, feelings of hopelessness, and a desperation to "do more" have consumed and distracted me; feelings I'm sure I share with many of my peers. As someone who firmly believes that the best way to connect with people is through food, I've turned to the D.C. food community to relieve my angst, uncertainty, and anger. As a result, I have found myself surrounded by some seriously talented, intelligent, creative, and powerful women who are making their own political statements through food. I'm collaborating with, learning from, and growing with these women, and every day I'm inspired by their warmth and success. Below is a list of 8 (out of countless) women in the D.C. food scene who are radically changing and improving the culinary experience in the District.
By now, most of you have either heard of or have eaten at Chaia. For those of you just learning about the charming Georgetown restaurant, you're in for a treat. Chaia is a women-owned restaurant that has perfected the art of taco-making...vegetarian tacos, that is. Chaia's flavorful and colorful tacos are always made with fresh, locally sourced, and seasonal vegetables. Founders Suzanne Simon and Bettina Sterns' dedication to a better food system, good food, local farms, and sustainability are highlighted in the restaurant's aesthetic and especially in its tacos.
Well known for her first culinary success in 1999, Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats, Doron Petersan embarked on another adventure last year by opening Fare Well. This time, however, she's not only offering sweet treats, but also complete lunch, dinner, brunch and drink menus. Fare Well boasts a busy menu of flavorful and colorful vegan dishes. They even offer uniquely flavored dairy-free milkshakes such as Neapolitan or Lemon and Ginger. This H Street hot spot is a must-visit, regardless of your dietary preferences. For carnivores and cheese lovers alike, I promise you'll find something meatless and dairy-free, but equally delicious at Fare Well.
For those of you with an undeniable sweet tooth – if you haven’t been to Rare Sweets, you are seriously missing out. Owner Meredith Tomason has perfected the art of baking, and the result is a bakeshop featuring decadent and delicious cakes, cookies and ice creams. With a rotating list of seasonal sweet treats, Meredith keeps Rare Sweets both current and exciting.
If you want to support some seriously talented and bad-ass women, grab a drink at the all-women owned distillery, Republic Restoratives. Last year, owners Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner successfully opened their crowd-funded distillery in Ivy City, D.C. Their two main products, Civic Vodka and Borough Bourbon have become local favorites among district dwellers and drinkers. As both best friends and business partners, Pia and Rachel have forever made their unique mark in the Ivy City neighborhood and more broadly, the D.C. beverage scene.
As a women-owned restaurant and the first ever certified organic restaurant in the country, Restaurant Nora is a renowned restaurant, both locally and nationally. Sadly, it officially closed its doors in 2017. Nora Pouillon founded Restaurant Nora in 1979 with the hopes of providing healthy, organic, and seasonal dishes to the District's capital. After opening Restaurant Nora, Nora also helped provide opportunities for other D.C. chefs and restaurateurs to learn about the environmental and health benefits of cooking with local, organic ingredients. She began offering bus tours to local farms in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, helping to launch the growing farm-to-table movement in D.C. Nora also helped launch FRESHFARM Markets, a producer-only farmers market serving communities across D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.
As the first women-owned Falooda shop in D.C., Toli Moli is making a lasting impression on the dessert-obsessed in the community. Falooda is a popular dessert throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Served cold, Falooda is a sweet medley primarily made of ice cream, basil seeds, and vermicelli noodles. Co-owners Jocelyn Law-Yone and Simone Jacobson put a unique spin on their Burmese style Falooda by adding flavored jellies, spices, and an assortment of nuts and seeds like pistachios, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Located at Union Market, the mother-daughter duo serves up these refreshing desserts alongside a variety of savory noodle salads.
Contrary to its name, Little Wild Things City Farm is doing big things in the urban agriculture movement. Little Wild Things is an urban farm in D.C. that specializes in organic-soil grown microgreens, salad greens, and edible flowers. In less than a quarter acre of land in the Edgewood neighborhood, Founder and "Chief Veggie Officer" Mary Ackley and Farm Manager Chelsea Barker dedicate their time to growing organic, seasonal, and local produce for their community. As a bonus, the women of Little Wild Things also create beautiful and natural microgreen and edible flower centerpieces for weddings and other events.
Did you know that a pineapple is a sign of hospitality? The women-run community and hospitality group, pineapple collaborative, is a “a community for women in food that seeks to connect the good food movement with the foodie movement to create a better food system." Founder Ariel Pasternak, along with her team members, Raisa, Ann, Maddie, Atara, and Jordan [that's me!] have hosted over 30 successful events since the launch of the group in 2015. Whether it is a cookbook signing, a wine tasting, a bread baking class, or a D.C. food policy conversation, pineapple provides a critical outlet for women in the District to expand their knowledge of food and celebrate each other’s successes in a collaborative and supportive environment.