Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn has spent much of his time on Capitol Hill lately, lobbying Congress. But that's not why he's scheduled a few games of beer pong for Thursday night. Coincidence, he says.
The Washington, D.C.-based Mendelsohn will be in South Florida to show off his skills during the new bi-weekly beer pong league at Campton Yard, the backyard bar he opened recently at the Hall, a property operated by the Joie de Vivre boutique hotel chain.
The "Top Chef" alum learned the game where most of the best players did: in school. Mendelsohn did not matriculate at one of the national beer-pong powerhouses — attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America — but he and other CIA students did not let that keep them from becoming top players.
"I did not play on the serious circuit of beer pong, but let's put it this way: I am definitely not unfamiliar with the game," Mendelsohn says. "There are definitely no losers at beer pong. Everybody wins at the end of the day."
The matches at Campton Yard take place 7 p.m. every other Thursday, with participation free on a first-come, first-served basis. Each team receives a complimentary pitcher of beer to get the game going, with food and beer specials from Mendelsohn's Caribbean-inspired menu available at special prices.
Even if you don't play, Campton Yard is one of the more picturesque spots to relax on South Beach, with a scattering of tables and lounging spots arranged under a giant banyan tree, which provided the inspiration for Mendelsohn's locals-oriented, "après-sea" escape.
"The tree's the whole thing. It's all lit up. It's a throwback. It dates back to when they were filming 'Ace Ventura' over there," says Mendelsohn, a native of Montreal.
Campton Yard will be a welcome antidote for the stress of walking the halls of Congress, where Mendelsohn and other chefs, led by Tom Colicchio, have spent several weeks lobbying for food-waste initiatives to be included in the next farm bill.
"It's been a big couple of weeks in D.C. as far as food policy is concerned," Mendelsohn says by phone from Washington. "Food waste is such a huge issue right now. The big fact is that we waste about 40 percent of the food that we produce. When you're looking at a number like that, it's pretty astronomical."
Campton Yard is at the Hall, 1500 Collins Ave., in Miami Beach. Call 305-531-1251 or go to JDVHotels.com.