Robert Aikens, chef at Shaw’s Oaxacan-style Espita Mezcaleria, appeared on last night’s episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” and won — a rare feat for a guest chef competing against Flay on his Food Network show.
For his timed cooking challenge, both chefs put their spin on the classic British dish dubbed “bubble and squeak” in front of a TV audience. Aikens had a bit of an upper hand; he grew up in Cringleford, a small village in Norfolk, England, and defeated the celebrity chef (Bobby’s Burger Palace) with a dish he re-created from his homeland.
The episode can be viewed online here and is also available On Demand.
Aikens, Espita owner Josh Phillips’s brother-in-law, was hired last summer from the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. Aikens recently rolled out a Tostada Tuesdays special for the summer, with a rotating dish every week (two for $11).
Phillips is currently weighing whether to add a second Mexican restaurant in D.C. This spring he told Eater if the hotly debated Initiative 77 measure passed, which it did, the no-tipping model would be a blow to the restaurant world and could cause Espita to rethink their expansion plans because of uncertainty about future payroll costs.
“No word either way yet,” Phillips told Eater on Monday, regarding restaurant No. 2.