With bites and beverages prepared by 28 nations, the chefs and guests of Events DC’s 10th Anniversary Embassy Chef Challenge embarked on a culinary journey around the world as they entered the doors of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, on the evening of May 17.
Embassy chefs began preparing and serving their creations in hopes of coming away with the coveted Pineapple Trophy; while the guests set off on a taste-testing global tour before casting votes for The People’s Choice Award. International foodies were joined by a panel of judges who nominated the winner of the prestigious Judges’ Choice Award. Celebrity chefs, food critics, and influential members of DC’s culinary community made up the panel of judges nominating the winner of the prestigious Judges’ Choice Award.
The sold-out event offered guests a rare opportunity to experience specially curated dishes, breathtaking presentations, and diverse tastes. Chefs who normally work behind closed doors, were able to interact with guests as they prepared and served authentic regional menu items. Dishes ranged from Jamaica’s Oxtail and Butterbean over four play mac’n’cheese, and El Salvador’s Pupusa Loca Nibble, Panama’s Thick Smoked Pork Soup, to Georgia’s Chanakhi, Morocco’s Chicken with spices from the earth and sea, and so many more!
Judges panel included:
- Andy Shallal, Busboys & Poets
- Major Garrett & Arden Farhi, CBS News
- Lauren Bernstein, The Culinary Diplomacy Project
- Chef Tim Ma, Kyirisan
- Nycci Nellis, The List Are You On It
- Executive Chef Xavier Deshayes, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
- Daniel Nasaw, The Wall Street Journal
- Maura Judkis, The Washington Post
- Chef Cynthia Verna, 2017 People’s Choice Champion representing the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
- Chef Moja Fedal, 2017 Judge’s Choice Champion representing the Embassy of Morocco
The energy in the Atrium and Atrium Hall was upbeat, energetic, and flavorful as guests celebrated culinary excellence, culture, and entertainment. Performers impressed the event-goers as one moment the crowd was watching a traditional Panamanian dance sequence and the next they were on their feet grooving to the acoustic sounds of Brooklyn-based City of the Sun.
As the performances came to a close and the final votes were cast, a very special guest kicked off the award ceremony. Siyabulela Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, offered some words of wisdom, emphasizing the importance of cultural understanding and events like Embassy Chef Challenge that promote culinary diplomacy. The Atrium was packed with guests, participants and photographers and as the winners were announced cameras flashed and the crowd roared in celebration.
2018 Embassy Chef Challenge Winners:
- Judges’ Choice Award Winner, 1st Place AND People’s Choice Award Winner, 1st Place:
- Chef Abigail “Abie” Sincioco-Mateo representing the Embassy of the Philippines
- Dish: Pork Sisig
- Judges’ Choice Award Winner, 2nd Place AND People’s Choice Award Winner, 2nd Place:
- Chef Francis Otoo representing Embassy of Ghana
- Dish: Lamb Jollof Rice
- Judges’ Choice Award Winner, 3rd Place:
- Chef Jouvens Jean from the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
- Dish: Kabrit Kreyol served with Haitian Cinnamon Water
- People’s Choice Award Winner, 3rd Place:
- Chef Alex Salgado representing the Embassy of Colombia
- Dish: Coconut Shrimp with Pancetta and Heart of Palm Ceviche
Two new awards were added to the ceremony this year, The Best Beverage presented by Pepsi and The Best Dressed Embassy presented by Macy’s . The Embassy of Barbados was awarded the Best Beverage trophy for their Drunken Bajan Lemonade developed by mixologist Philip Antoine and Chef Creig Greenidge. Guests loved the cocktail’s purple, fruity, and fresh presentation as well as its remarkable flavor. The Best Dressed Embassy presented by Macy’s was earned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco with its colorful display that wowed guests.
A huge congratulations to all of the participating nations: Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Republic of Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Republic of Haiti, Republic of Iraq, Jamaica, Republic of Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Principality of Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Republic of Moldova, Kingdom of Morocco, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines and Slovak Republic.
Events DC senior vice president and managing director of sports, entertainment and special events, Erik Moses, said of the tenth anniversary event, “This year’s challenge was bigger and better than ever before. It was great to see so many embassies turn out with such pride for their native cuisine and culture. Congratulations to all the chefs who competed. Here’s to another decade of friendly and delicious competition.”