Embassy Chef Challenge Celebrates Food and Cultures from Across the Globe

One of the most fun aspects of living in Washington, DC is the international food scene. Not only do we have some amazing chefs across all the neighborhoods, but there are also amazing chefs at our embassies. On April 2nd, Events DC brought the executive chefs from many countries to compete in the Embassy Chef Challenge.

The challenge was judged by notable experts with diverse backgrounds including:

  • Executive Chef Xavier Deshayes, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
  • Maria Godoy, Senior Editor at NPR Science Desk and Host of The Salt
  • Rose Previte, Owner of Maydan and Compass Rose
  • Ashley Rose Young, Food Historian at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Stand Out Dishes

However, the most fun part of the event was that guests were able to try each dish. Guests visited each country’s booth where they were able to sample a dish or drink (or both!). Visiting the booths allowed guests to hear more about each dish and understand it’s importance to the country’s culture. Many of the embassy’s also decorated their booth to showcase the beauty of their country. After experiencing each dish, guests voted for their favorite for the People’s Choice award. This guest involvement seemed to encourage guests to discuss the dishes with each other. I thought this helped me slow down a little to truly appreciate the cultures we were all enjoying.

My favorite dish of the night was Chef Ron Johnson’s (Bahamas) Lobster and Coconut Soup with a Curry Cracker and Red Pepper Gel. The hollowed out plantain holding everything together was by far my favorite presentation of the night. This dish took home third prize for Judges’ Choice.

Haiti’s Chef Dimitri Lilavois presented a Surf and Turf Pumpkin Soup. This was a close second for my favorite dish of the night with perfectly cooked fish! This dish took home first prize for People’s Choice.

Chef Dries Molkens from Belgium presented 70% Cocoa Chocolate Desserts. These sweet little truffles took home third prize for People’s Choice!

Chef Santos Fuentes from El Salvador presented crispy yucca topped with dry fish and cream of loroco. I loved how crispy this dish stayed even against the fish and sauce.

Kenya’s Chef Carolyne Crosby presented a mini Kenyan taco with Nyama Choma (grilled beef) and kachumbari (salsa). I loved how tender the beef was in this little guy.

Full List of Winners

Judges’ Choice

  1. Barbados, Chef Javon Cummings, Guava Brûlée Pork Belly
  2. Sri Lanka, Chef Anuradha Wijesinghe, Milk Rice with Onion Paste and Chicken Curry
  3. Bahamas, Chef Ron Johnson, Lobster and Coconut Soup with a Curry Cracker and Red Pepper Gel

People’s Choice

  1. Haiti, Chef Javon Cummings, Surf and Turf Pumpkin Soup
  2. Morocco, Chef Faycal Zahraoui, Seafood Pastila with Smoked Potatoes
  3. Belgium, Chef Dries Molkens, 70% Cocoa Chocolate Desserts

Look out for the Embassy Chef Challenge again next year. General admission tickets were $75 for early bird and $95 for regular sale. Follow
@EventsDC on Instagram for future events including the Embassy Open House on in May. Admission is free but get there early!

About Kelley Smith 69 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.

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