inventive cuisine and culture collide at embassy chef challenge

In case you missed it, the Embassy Chef Challenge took place this past Wednesday, at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. It was an exquisite evening of cuisine that managed to both represent cultural mainstays, and wow local foodies, and dining enthusiasts with inspiring new twists.

An amalgamate of unique cultural performances, and entertainment complemented a night of unparalleled food tastings.

We kicked off the evening with some drink tastings. My friend, Scott, was kind enough to come along and help me document SO MUCH food. We started with Singapore Slings. I learned that this drink, the national drink of Singapore, originated at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in 1915.

We tasted finger food from Nepal, shrimp ceviche from Haiti, beef and potato enchiladas from Honduras, a “southern salmon duo” (salmon with quinoa, apples, seaweed and salsa verde) from Chilé, pinoy grilled pork with quail egg wrapped in banana leaves from the Philippines, Chipa Guazú (a corn casserole with cheese, fresh corn, and eggs) from Peru, and lamb shoulder sealed in a clay jar called tangia (preserved lemon, saffron, tumeric, garlic, aged butter and olive oil) from Morocco.

Dancer at the Embassy Chef Challenge, credit: Ronald Reagan Building

What did people love about the event? “That it’s so full of culture,” said Lauren Stamps, who came to the Chef Challenge for the first time this year, “Not only did I enjoy tasting the food, but seeing the dances and performances from a lot of different countries was really unique.”

“It gives me the opportunity to taste different food that I never would have otherwise tried,” said Crystal B, who also attended the Embassy Chef Challenge for the first time this year.


Tasting food from the Philippines. image credit: Ronald Reagan Building

I did some perfunctory research to improve my food photography skills before the Chef Challenge, and came across this helpful article. I’m testing out the new techniques I learned in the photo to the left while tasting samples from the Philippines.

Winners were announced after more entertainment, and a performance from Brooklyn band, City of the Sun. The people’s choice award went to Chef Cynthia Verna from Haiti for her shrimp ceviche with plantain chips. This was the first dish I tried, and I can attest to it being very flavorful, and inventive, with a hint of fine herb aioli. The judges’ choice award went to Chef Moha Fedal of Morocco for his lamb shoulder, which was delectable, artistically presented below.


Morocco's Winning Dish
the winning lamb shoulder dish, credit: Ronald Reagan building
IMG_2515 (1)
Chef Moha Fedal after winning the judge’s prize

What a night of culture, music and exquisite food! I’ll definitely be back next year.

xxx lafilleamericane


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