Ellen Kassoff

ellen kassoff

Equinox Restaurant, Washington D.C.


Born and raised in Washington, DC, Kassoff earned an economics degree from the University of Maryland and augmented her studies abroad at The University of London. She lived in Israel spending her time between farming on a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights and in Elat working as a cook for a scuba charter company. Eventually, she moved back home to DC to begin her career in food distribution, where she met her husband Chef Todd Gray in 1993. Together Ellen and Todd opened their first restaurant, Equinox in 1999. For over 21 years Ellen has been a fierce trailblazer in D.C.’s hospitality industry and continues to forge modernist visions of hospitality, forever reinventing its role in America. Ellen has closely aligned herself and worked energetically with humane causes for animals and the environment.


818 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C


Story Plate: What are your top three go-to restaurants in your hometown (Washington DC)? 
Ellen Kassoff: Spices Asian Cafe, Marcels, The Alibi

SP: What’s a must-have or your favorite kitchen item and why? 
EK: Airfryer – I’m obsessed – it’s taken the place of my oven! It’s versatile and I’m experimenting with it every time I cook! Can make crispy food without all the oil – I’m one of those gals who loves fried food!

SP: Who/what inspired you to get into the culinary industry? 
EK: Honestly –  love of the social aspect of it – making people happy gives me a lot of satisfaction. Especially these days where going out to dinner has never been so appreciated by our guests.

SP: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? 
EK: Legumes – they check so many boxes and can go in just about anything. Nutritionally a powerhouse too and easy to store and keep – I used dried beans only

SP: Is there another female within the culinary industry that inspires/influences your work? 
EK: Alice Waters – everything she does is simply great

SP: What are your top five favorite foods/dishes of all time? 
EK: Pan-Fried Oysters with Pineapple, Butternut squash Ravioli, McDonald’s Fries, 7-11 Coke Slurpee, white truffle risotto

SP: How do you manage stress, what advice can you give your fellow girl bosses? 
EK: YOGA, hiking, dogs, meditation, surround yourself with gratitude and positive energy – Marie Kondo your mind!

SP: What piece of advice would you give to other women that are looking to venture into the culinary industry? 
EK: Go for it – excitement is always around the corner of each day – never the same day and everything is always changing – it’s like fashion and art – there is the nuevo and the classics – I love to blend 🙂


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