Little Bites: Todd Gray of Equinox’s Obama Family Chili

Watershed_April 23, 2011_145By Nevin Martell

This week we hit up Equinox’s chef-owner Todd Gray, who is in the midst of planning a special Inauguration brunch. The meal celebrates President Obama’s second-term win, as well as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. To honor these events, Gray has composed a menu of dishes well loved by Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, including this chili recipe adapted from the president’s family archives. The three-course brunch is available from 11am to 3pm on Sunday, January 20 for $35 per person, not including tax or tip.


Obama Family Chili


  • 2 ½ pounds ground lean chuck
  • 1 pound ground lean pork
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Scallions, for garnish
  • Smoked cheddar cheese, for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan brown 1 ¾ pounds of the ground meat (an even mix of the beef and pork), then drain the fat.
  2. Remove this batch of meat. Brown the rest of the ground meat, drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.
  3. Add the garlic, onions, and peppers. Cook and stir until tender.
  4. Add the other half of the meat and the tomato paste, black beans, water, beer, chili powder, stock, cumin, paprika, oregano, sugar, coriander, and Tabasco sauce. Mix well.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
  6. Top with with grated smoked cheddar cheese, sour cream and chopped scallion rounds.