Last Thursday evening the 10th annual Embassy Chef Challenge took place in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The event was a culinary explosion of flavors and a chance for even the most seasoned foodie to expand her gastronomic boundaries.
Globally minded foodies gathered to sample bites, drinks, and desserts from the 28 participating nations. The event floor was abuzz with DC’s most culturally-minded, culinary aficionados who made their way through as many of the 28 food stations as they had room for. Although all of the dishes were sample size, it was definitely a challenge to hit all of the highlights on this international tour-de-food!
A popular evening out for members of the diplomatic community, young professionals dedicated to DC’s trendiest events, and date-nighters, the Embassy Chef Challenge was in full swing shortly after it began at 6:30. Guests didn’t waste any time making their way through the rooms of food stations. The energy in the building was palpable as reporters interviewed the chefs, and guests tasted the food, snapped pictures of the delightful displays, and voted for their favorite fare on social media.
A panel of 10 judges, influential members of DC’s diplomatic, cultural, and culinary circles, assessed the dishes. The judging panel included the Washington Post‘s food and culture reporter, Maura Judkis, Chef Tim Ma of DC’s award-winning Asian and French fusion restaurant, the Kyirisan, and last year’s winning chefs, Chef Cynthia Verna representing Haiti, and Chef Moja Fedal representing Morocco.
Guests at the Embassy Chef Challenge could also vote on the “People’s Choice” winner by casting their votes on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and using the designated hashtag for each country.
Chef Abigail “Abie” Sincioco-Mateo representing the Embassy of the Philippines was selected as the People’s Choice Champion and well as the Judges’ Choice Champion for her plate of Pork Sisig.
Embassy of Ghana Chef, Francis Otoo won the second-place prize for his Lamb Jollof Rice for both the People’s Choice and the Judge’s category.
Chef Jouvens Jean from the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti took third-place prize in the Judges’ Choice category for his Kabrit Kreyol served with Haitian Cinnamon Water.
Embassy of Colombia Chef, Alex Salgado won the third-place People’s Choice prize for his Coconut Shrimp with Pancetta and Heart of Palm Ceviche.
As a special surprise, Nelson Mandela’s grandson appeared onstage before the award ceremony. He spoke about the importance of coming together as an international community and finding ways to build connections with different cultures, an objective that the Embassy Chef Challenge facilitates. It was such an inspiring speech that nicely summarized the greater purpose of the Chef Challenge: an appreciation for other worlds that sneaks its way into our consciousness between bites of too much good food.
What was your favorite part of the Embassy Chef Challenge? Do you plan to attend next year?
– la fille americaine