- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

It was hardly surprising that the capital area's inventive chefs would try to mix as many food groups as possible (vegetable, grain, dairy, fruit, fish, meat) in the specialties they served at Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation benefit last Thursday night.
So, let it be reported in the annals of gastronomy that chef Bill Eder of the District's Maggiano Restaurant successfully combined five of the six in the wee portions of chicken-and-mushroom rigatoni in Marsala wine cream sauce that he served to budding epicures at his ballroom station in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Teatro Goldoni co-owner Ingrid Aielli had just three in the delicious smoked salmon rotolino with goat cheese, leek and red beet emulsion that attracted hungry tasters to her table near the bandstand, where Ed Hahn and his quartet kept things lively with blues and jazz throughout the night.
"Hopefully people will try something they like and then come to the restaurant," said Mrs. Aielli, one of 50 restaurateurs and 30 vintners who participated in the event.
Few among the 700 guests seemed to be counting ingredients, much less calories.
"I have to have another of these just to make sure it was as good as the first," lawyer David Harrison said as he helped himself to a second (or was it a third?) foie gras popper at the Ritz's booth in the nearby VIP Room, where special gastronomic treats and Veuve Clicquot were on offer for $200 contributors.
"We were scared there would be less of a turnout this time, but, moneywise, we're probably neck-and-neck with last year," said event co-chairwoman Ellen Gray, who estimated that the 16th annual event would raise about $70,000, after expenses, for Share Our Strength's local efforts to end hunger.
Local restaurant business is down because of the economy, but evidently there is no problem getting participants to book return engagements.
"Everyone wants to be here, and we have to turn people away," Mrs. Gray, the general manager of Washington's Equinox Restaurant, said after noting that 15 of the top 40 restaurants cited in the current Zagat survey took part this year.

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