Chefs become designers for chocolate fashion show

The District’s top chefs stepped out of their culinary element Friday to create fashion designs so good you could taste them.

The Heart of America Foundation transformed the Mandarin Oriental Hotel into a chocolate wonderland Friday night for its annual Charity in Chocolate fundraiser. The event challenged chefs from restaurants like La Tasca, SEI, Béarnaise and Café Milano to create looks with confections for a chocolate fashion show.

Literary characters inspired all the designs on the runway. Chefs paid homage to “Hunger Games” protagonist Katniss Everdeen, Pocahontas, the Mad Hatter and the Ugly Duckling, all dripping in chocolate and sparkling with sugar.

Caitlin Dysart, pastry chef at 2941 Restaurant, took home the top honor with her masterpiece “Snow Queen,” constructed almost entirely of shaped, hardened sugar.

“It’s really, really exciting because as pastry chefs we get to use special techniques and then just do something out of the box that we don’t get to do in our daily job,” Dysart said.

The show was judged by local D.C. tastemakers, including Michael McCarthy, editor-in-chief of D.C. Magazine, Heather Roth, 2008 RAMW Pastry Chef of the Year, and Kate Michael of K Street Magazine.

Event proceeds went to The Heart of America Foundation, which has worked with over 200 libraries and educational spaces, and provided more than 3 million books to children since its 1997 founding.

“It’s just a wonderful way for people to come together, to really celebrate not only the great chefs that are donating so much to make a difference in this community, but also just to come together to celebrate our children and celebrate our schools in the District of Columbia,” said Angie Halamandaris, The Heart of America Foundation co-founder and president.

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