Ellen Kassoff Gray’s Story

I am spilling over with excitement to share with you April’s featured significant other, Ellen Kassoff Gray from Equinox Restaurant (and beyond!) in Washington, DC. This woman wears so many hats! As a native Washingtonian, from the start she positioned herself a trailblazer in the restaurant community, as a woman with a strong environmental and hometown message; spearheading eco-friendly concepts such as DC’s Capitol Harvest on the Plaza Farmer’s Market to help promote the First Lady’s Healthy School Food Initative. As an avid activist, she regularly supports local and international causes  which keeps her calendar very busy! As both the co-owner and manager of husband and Executive Chef Todd Gray’s award-winning Equinox Restaurant, she is dedicated not just to tantalizing the masses but also to educating the next generation of culinary experts. Last, but certainly not least, as wife and mother she has such an optimistic and light-hearted attitude about taking it all in stride. I still don’t know how she does it all! Let’s hear it for Ellen!

What were your first impressions when you first realized that by being with your restaurant man/woman, that you have become a part of the restaurant world?

Well, since I was already in the business ~ my first impression was – double trouble!

When did you know that you had what it took, within the parameters of his/her career, to find success in your relationship?

Ha ha I’ve always been a fiercely independent personality – it’s due to the fact that I was raised in a family with three brothers – I say I was raised by wolves. :) It taught me to be very independent and not to be the whinny/needy/high maintained type of spouse! That’s what you need to be in this type scenario.

What is the BEST part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry?

I’d have to say that’s pretty obvious – the food and wine. But, on a more serious note, it’s great to be in an industry where the main goal is to help people have a good time!

How do you handle the holidays knowing you are both going to be so busy at work?

We don’t do “holidays”. Everyday is a holiday for us.  We don’t focus on those [traditional holidays] – we focus on working through them and enjoying downtime afterwards…our families come to us for the holidays usually.

How has achieving acclaim and success, within the restaurant industry, changed your relationship?

Its certainly made things more hectic, fun, and deepened the common goal we work towards everyday. “Achieving success”, and its definition varies depending who you talk to – we both agree we have a long way to go before we stop striving for success. We haven’t reached our pinnacle yet – I’m expecting that to happen around 80….we’ve been married 16 years this April.