Recipe for a racial tiff: Take a gregarious, fearless chef who’s proven that a fine restaurant can succeed in black Washington, add a healthy portion of wit with a soupcon of in-your-face attitude, shake briskly in front of an oversensitive city, and voila, it’s da storm over Da Sto.
Gillian Clark is creator and chef of Colorado Kitchen, the most ambitious restaurant in Ward 4, just east of Rock Creek Park. On a retail strip of Colorado Avenue that features the usual iron-grated liquor shop, laundromat and corner store stocked with everything bad for you, Clark has drawn a delightfully mixed crowd to a place she calls “Aunt Jemima’s bandana in three dimensions.”
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But some of the food sophisticates of egullet.com, an online community for people who live to eat, were blind to Clark’s wink when they heard she was opening a “little foodie retail store” a couple of doors from her restaurant and that the place would be called Da Sto. As in, “I’m goin’ down to da sto.”
The foodies lit into the chef.
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Then Clark joined the fray. She didn’t mince words. “I’m always interested to see a bunch of over-educated white people ‘dissing’ an over-educated black chef for calling her store (very tongue-in-cheek, I might add) a word she hears every day. None of my customers or employees who often say they’re going to ‘da sto’ are ashamed of how they talk. It seems that only a small group of snooty white people attempting to be politically correct find fault with their pronunciation.”