Through the years, Chef Todd Gray has had an undeniable influence on the city’s palate.

Situated on Connecticut Avenue, his Equinox restaurant goes where so few ever do– utilizing bold seasonal flavors to create lively new healthy vegan recipes for vegan and “vegan-curious” communities. Along with his wife and business partner, Ellen Kassoff Gray, Todd is changing the perception of veganism by creating crave-worthy gourmet dishes that are as appealing to those who adhere to the vegetable-based lifestyle to those who occasionally enjoy a juicy steak.

This season, Chef Gray is doing some especially intriguing things with exotic mushrooms. Lobster Mushrooms, Cauliflower Mushrooms, Oyster Mushrooms and Chanterelles are just a few of the varieties he is working with to create dishes like Paella Stuffed Northern Neck Poblano Peppers with Saffron Rice, Forest Mushrooms and Path Valley Sunchoke Cream and Housemade Spaghetti with White Truffled Cream, Pioppini Mushrooms, Brussels Petals and Aged Cashew Cheese.

One particularly palatable mushroom-based dish is Chef Gray’s Papillote of Cauliflower and Mushrooms, which is made with Kabocha Squash, Artichoke Hearts and Quince Vinegar. Get the recipe below.

Chef Todd Gray’s Healthy Vegan Recipe: Papillote of Cauliflower and Mushrooms

Serves 6


6 pieces of aluminum foil approximately 10’’ by 10’’
6 tbsp. Earth Balance, margarine or butter substitute
3 shallots finely chopped
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 lb. cauliflower and mushrooms, or oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp. of quince vinegar or rich apple cider vinegar
4 artichoke hearts–poached and sliced
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 oz. Riesling wine or other slightly sweet white wine
2 tbsp. kabocha squash purée or spiced pumpkin purée
6 pieces of grilled sour-dough bread
Salt & pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably convection
Take aluminum foil sheets and rub center 3 inches with butter substitute
Sprinkle with shallots and garlic
Top with mushrooms and artichoke hearts
Drizzle with olive oil and white wine
Season with salt & pepper
Lightly place small droplets of pumpkin puree on top of mushrooms
Bring the edges of foil up into a pouch-like shape, being sure to roll edges
Place packets into oven and cook for 4-5 minutes
Remove Papillote from oven
Open carefully so as to release steam
Pour contents of foil Papillote into a shallow rim bowl
Drizzle with quince vinegar and garnish with grilled sourdough

Serve immediately.

Equinox restaurant is located on 818 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006. View Map. Reservations can be made online or by calling 202-331-8118.

Photo courtesy of Equinox Restaurant