The Roots’ Questlove Holds Food Salon at F Street House

GW President Steven Knapp and Diane Robinson Knapp hosted the musician and several acclaimed chefs on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

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From left: Dr. Knapp, Diane Robinson Knapp, Kwame Onwuachi, Traci Des Jardins, Questlove, Tanya Holland, Anna McGorman, a guest and Rob Donis. (Courtesy F Street House)
April 25, 2017

By Ruth Steinhardt

Musician and activist Questlove presented a vegan meal and conversation with George Washington President Steven Knapp and his wife, Diane Robinson Knapp, at the university’s historic F Street House on Earth Day.

Questlove, the drummer and bandleader of the Roots—now Jimmy Fallon’s house band on the Tonight Show—was in Washington, D.C., to speak at Saturday’s March for Science and made the visit to GW as part of his ongoing food salon series, Quest Loves Food.

Dr. Knapp, himself a musician, took time out from the event for an impromptu jam session with his fellow drummer.

“At some point someone mentioned to Questlove that I had some percussion instruments collected on the third floor, and he expressed interest,” Dr. Knapp said. “So I showed him a djembe—a hand drum from Senegal that was actually a gift from a former staff member—and when I started playing that, he started accompanying me on the conga drums.”

On Instagram, Questlove referenced the F Street House’s history as a private clubhouse. “The Knapps host their own salon series, in the spirit of the ‘off the record’ conversations that were a hallmark of F Street Club,” he wrote. “This home has been a venue for conversations of social and cultural significance and on this night that tradition was continued with conversations that focused on our planet, science and food sustainability.”

Along with Questlove and the Knapps, guests included James Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco’s Jardinière; Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, Calif.; pastry chef Anna McGorman; and Top Chef’s Kwame Onwuachi. University Chef Rob Donis made hors d’oeurves.

“One of my favorite things about the Food Salons is watching the chefs work together,” Questlove wrote.

“These are chefs (who in most cases) have never met before until that night. And like walking into a late night jam session at the Blue Note, these chefs work in a foreign kitchen like a well-seasoned band or a beautifully choreographed dance. It is truly stunning to watch as one chef throws down a beat, and another plays a simple melody on top as if the entire show had been rehearsed for 1,000 hours. It is always a seamless performance amongst like-minded creatives that is a pleasure to witness.”