Women of Washington

2p.m. Saturday

Join local craftswomen who busted through the boys’ club to learn where the food and spirits industry is heading. Listen to a local female distiller, brewer, bartender and chef spill the secrets behind their burgeoning businesses, and be blown away by the ambrosial flavors infused into their signature fare.

Rachel Sergi, Mixologist


Bartending for 18 years, Rachel is respected in the industry and well-loved by clientele for her ability to continually create cocktail menus that wow patrons. Her ability to serve as a mentor to aspiring cocktail artisans has earned her much recognition. Last year she was named among the Top 10 DC Craft Cocktail Bartenders by Scofflaw’s Den.

Julie Verratti, Director of Business Development

Denizens Brewing Company

Julie Verratti is a co-founder and co-owner of Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, which is the first large scale production brewery in Montgomery County and the only majority female-owned and operated brewery in Maryland. She sits on the Board of Directors at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, is on the Montgomery County Food Council where she co-chairs the Food Economy Working Group, and serves as the treasurer for the Brewer’s Association of Maryland PAC. Julie is also an active member of the DC chapter of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the Pink Boots Society. Prior to founding Denizens Brewing Co, she worked in state legislative politics and more recently served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the US Small Business Administration where she focused on the Affordable Care Act, Veterans Entrepreneurship, and local economic development policies.

In 2016 Julie was named to the Washington Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” for her advocacy in expanding the beer industry in Maryland and her business leadership in Montgomery County. She has testified before Congress, the Maryland State Legislature, and the Montgomery County Council on issues impacting the beer industry and small businesses generally. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and her JD from the George Washington University Law School. Julie directs all business development and distribution sales for Denizens Brewing Co. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, listening to C-SPAN, playing soccer, and of course, having beers with friends.

Jennifer Lopez, Executive Sous Chef

Paolo’s Ristorante

Jennifer has made her career working her way up through the ranks at Capital Restaurant Concept’s variety of restaurants by showcasing her versatility and adaptability. Starting out as a waitress, Jennifer soon became a Line Cook at Old Glory BBQ in 2011 before she became the Sous Chef at Paolo’s Ristorante. Jennifer is completely self-taught and loves to cook…every day of her life. Jennifer thinks of cooking as an art form, “…after all people eat with their eyes first,” says Jennifer, therefore I not only make my plates beautiful, but they are delicious as well.”

Jennifer has done some exciting projects with Food Network. Her goal is to be a Famous Chef, and publish a book to showcase the exciting nature of the restaurant industry and pass on her knowledge to a future generation of self-taught chefs. “I would like to give new chefs the comfort in knowing if you work hard, you can achieve what seems impossible with focus and drive.”

Pia Carusone, Co-owner

Republic Restoratives

Pia heads up The Campaign Group’s Washington, D.C. office.

After years of winning tough campaigns, Pia met U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords and they quickly bonded over being former republicans. Pia was the youngest female chief of staff in the house when she joined Gabby’s team. After the stunning and horrific shooting that left 6 dead and 13 injured, including Gabby, Pia was recognized on the floor of Congress for her leadership role in the aftermath.

When Gabby resigned, Pia joined the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. In that role she advised the Secretary on all public affairs matters, served as lead US Government federal communicator during crisis’, managed hundreds of staff and coordinated all press, strategic and internal communications at the seven operational components of DHS: FEMA, US Coast Guard, US Secret Service, TSA, Customs and Border Patrol, Citizenship Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Pia couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and watch gun violence ravage this country. She joined her friends Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly in forming the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions and served as it’s first Executive Director.

Pia has given hundreds of TV, radio, and print interviews. She was recently named one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch.” Originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, Pia is a graduate of Bard College and now resides in Washington, DC with her partner Leanne and their two dachshunds Sauce and Magoo. Ask Pia what her favorite bourbon is- she’s the co-founder of Republic Restoratives Distillery.

Rachel Mastandrea, Owner


Rachel started The Fetching Foodie as a collection of recipes 8 years ago and has since grown the company into a bakery business and food blog. Rachel is known for her clever ingredient combinations and boozy baked goods. When she’s not making cupcakes for a wedding or creating a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, she can be found at the newest restaurant opening or the latest food and drink festival. Thefetchingfoodie.com is comprised of innovative recipes; restaurant reviews; and festival coverage. Whether you’re looking for a new recipe to try or want to place cookie or cupcake order, check out thefetchingfoodie.com.

Shuckin’ Shots

4p.m. Saturday

Sip spirits and savor oysters paired to entice your palate. Under the guidance of a mixologist, learn how cocktails can complement the ocean’s aphrodisiac and bring out its flavorful notes. By the end of this mini mollusk masterclass, you’re sure to be in high spirits.

Larry Davis, Executive Chef

J. Paul’s

Since Larry was eight years old, he always knew that he wanted to be a Chef when he grew up. Starting out as a dishwasher and working his way up through the ranks, Capital Restaurant Concepts’ then Corporate Chef Bryan Yealy offered Larry the opportunity to showcase his creations. Larry started out as a line cook at Old Glory BBQ where he fine-tuned his trade. As the Executive Sous Chef of J. Paul’s, Larry’s unique recipes can be found on the J. Paul’s menu for its reopening in October. One day Larry hopes to open his own restaurant to be named after his first Mentor and Chef, his mother, Sidnice.

Mick Perrigo, Mixologist

Left Door

Mick Perrigo brings several years of experience at D.C. craft cocktail bars and a love of cocktails both classic and forward-thinking to Left Door. Previously, Perrigo could be found behind the stick at El Camino, as well as Left Door owner Tom Brown’s other bars, The Passenger and Hogo.

50 Shades of Rosé

6p.m. Saturday

Give in to temptation and feast upon a decadent spread of mouth-watering aphrodisiacs. Irresistible couplings of oysters, chocolate and a crisp flirty rose make for the perfect romantic pregame that will bring pleasure to both couples and singles alike. We’ll arouse your senses — what happens next is up to you.

Neal Langermann, Corporate and Executive Chef

Georgia Brown’s

Chef Langermann moved to the East Coast in 1990, where he became the Executive Sous Chef at the Red Sage Restaurant and won Best New Restaurant Award by Food and Wine Magazine. He first came to Capital Restaurant Concepts in 1997 as the Executive Chef at Paolo’s Ristorante in Georgetown and then moved to Executive Chef at Georgia Brown’s where he remained for the next eight years and became winner of the 2001 RAMMY AWARDS, Chef of the Year in DC. Neal is now Corporate Chef for all Capital Restaurant Concepts restaurants which includes: Executive Chef at Georgia Brown’s as well as Corporate Chef at J. Paul’s Saloon, Old Glory BBQ, Paolo’s Ristorante and the newly opened Neyla ain Reston, VA as well as Ovations, Wolf Trap’s on site restaurant. Neal loves to create modern interpretations of classic dishes.

Scott Perry, Chef de Cuisine


Chef de Cuisine Scott Perrry’s award-winning ability to create fabuilous dishes is the newest secret ingredient in the kitchen at Occidental, where Perry joined the team in spring 2015. Perry, who hails from Charleston, South Carolina, brought his southern charm and his affinity for southern cuisine with him when he arrived on the DC restaurant scene a few years ago, and since then they have both been in high demand. Perry started his culinary career at the tender age of 16, honing his skills as a line cook at restaurateur Sal Parco’s Mustard Seed group in Charleston. Here he sliced, diced, chopped and stirred for eight years, working alongside great talent and all the while perfecting his craft. He was lured to DC in 2012, taking the job as Executive Chef at Floriana, a respected four-star Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle. In a review of Floriana, The Washington Post lauded Perry’s veal sweetbreads as “a dish reminiscent of his southern upbringing.” Perry was chef at Pulpo, the sister restaurant to Floriana, when he was named a 2013 Best Chef of America from Best Chefs, an organization that bills itself as “the ultimate guide to chefs,” and relies on chefs, culinary professionals and food enthusiasts to nominate candidates for this top honor.

Tristan Holley, Production Manager

The Capital Candy Jar

Tristan’s interest in candy and wine have a unique and unlikely origin. His initial education in wine came while consulting for the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium where he used his wine education to host events promoting party platforms and causes. When work brought him to DC, he soon left politics to pursue wine full time, consulting for several restaurant groups around DC and earning certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. While working with restaurants, he developed an interest in sweets and chocolate, which drove him to join Capital Candy Jar in 2015. Why choose between wine and chocolate when you can have both!


1p.m. Sunday

Throw down for an all American bash of beer and BBQ in the heart of the Nation’s capital. Gather your crew to go whole hog with a local smokehouse and enjoy local brews while watching grill masters prep and cook an entire pig in a barbecue lover’s paradise.

Melanie Kurtz, Executive Sous Chef

Old Glory BBQ

Melanie is a graduate from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, 2014, earning an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. It is then when she first began working with Capital Restaurant Concepts as an intern, starting as a line cook and working her way therough the kitchen at Paolo’s Ristorante in Georgetown where she became the Sous Chef in 2008. Melanie also had the opportunity to work as the Chef at Ovations, the on-site restaurant at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts during the summers of 2009 and 2010. Melanie then came back to Paolo’s Ristorante in Georgetown as the Executive Sous Chef. Melanie was recently promoted to be the Executive Chef at Old Glory BBQ. Melanie credits her father for her love of learning the culinary arts.

Matt Lang, Head Chef

Texas Jack’s

Matt began his cooking career way back in 2004 at the much lauded Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village of Manhattan. It was here that Matt’s love of delicious yet simply prepared food was birthed. Matt then took his experience from Pearl and applied it to his new position as pit master/chef of Fette Sau in Brooklyn, New York. Soon after opening, Fette Sau was praised as the best barbecue in New York City by numerous media outlets. In the summer of 2010 Matt participated in the Food Network 4-episode series, Best In Smoke. Competing against the top pit masters in the country Matt came out on top, winning $50,000, most of which was not spent wisely. After a brief stint at Hill Country in Washington D.C., Matt happily accepted the position of head chef at Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Arlington, Virginia. 8 months in, Texas Jack’s was named the best barbecue in the D.C. metro area by the Washington Post.

David James, Owner

Jammin’ Island BBQ

David James was born in Hamilton, Canada with Jamaican heritage. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University (International Business, BA), David has an extensive F&B background garnered from various entrepreneurial endeavors. David’s has worked with restaurants such as Houston’s, Benihana’s, Ortanique, Piola, Club Med, Sodexo and Levy Restaurants. David is reputable for successfully opening and managing the Lexus President’s Club during the 2008 inaugural season at the Washington National’s Ballpark.

Sheilah O. James, Owner

Jammin’ Island BBQ

Chef Sheilah O. James was born in the Southern Leyte, Philippines and is a graduate of Hotel and Restaurant Management at The Leyte Normal University in Tacloban. After 10 years of teaching Culinary Arts at the College of Maasin, Philippines, it was Sheilah’s experience with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Washington DC that has most influenced her cooking style and technique used to create the Jammin’ Island’s trade sauces and prepared foods.

District Distilled

3p.m. Sunday

Drink in the spirits of The District with a special session dedicated to local distilleries. From craft to couture, you’ll sip, savor and celebrate the intoxicating flavors of Washington D.C.’s homegrown elixirs. Peek behind the barrel of this burgeoning industry through an interactive liquor lecture and a one-of-a-kind tasting that features gin, whiskey, and vodka.

Jonathan Fasano, Assistente del Maestro

Don Ciccio & Figli

Jonathan is a Colorado native who’s been in DC for about 2 and 1/2 years. He graduated from Kenyon College in 2011 and began chasing creative and inspiring job opportunities until he was introduced to Francesco Amodeo. With my background in Fine Arts and the distillation of plants for their essential oils, it turned out to be a proper fit for both of us. Jonathan has been with Don Ciccio for 1 and 1/2 years, contributing to everything from production to sales and marketing.

Michael Lowe, Co-owner

New Columbia Distillers

Michael Lowe is a founding Co-Owner and Distiller at New Columbia Distillers, the first distillery in DC in a century and the makers of DC’s Green Hat Gin. Michael founded New Columbia with his son-in-law, John Uselton, in 2011. They went into production in October 2012, making a distilled gin named in honor of DC’s most famous Prohibition bootlegger, “The Man in the Green Hat,” bootlegger to Congress. Michael was a retired lawyer when he and John decided that DC sorely needed a gin distillery. Before the law, Michael was a Naval officer and submariner.

Rachel Cole Gardner, Co-owner

Republic Restoratives

Rachel Gardner brings more than a decade of experience in integrated natural resource management and stewardship of family enterprise. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco.

Formerly an advocate for abandoned mine reclamation in California, Rachel works to improve waste management practices in the extractive industries. She co-founded a Minnesota-based mine waste diversion brokerage as well as a pilot project for carbon capture solutions in underground mines. Her commitment to building strategic partnerships led to a US-Canadian byproduct synergy program in the refractory industry and she has over nine years of experience working with indigenous communities affected by mining in both the US and Canada.

Rachel’s most recent initiative, Republic Restoratives, is DC’s newest distillery and the home of CIVIC Vodka.