The 13th annual Embassy Chef Challenge, now a part of the larger International City Food Festival took place last Thursday at the @smithsonian American Art Museum.
In the Kogod Courtyard — and up on the 3rd floor amidst some stunning artwork — guests traveled the world with their taste buds, enjoying unique flavors and cultural performances as over 40 embassy chefs tried to win their votes in some friendly competition.
Chefs competed to win the coveted People’s Choice Award, chosen by guests’ votes, as well as the Judges’ Choice Award, selected by a panel of influential members of the cultural and culinary communities.
Judges chose Chefs Xianlong Yang, Yuechao Zhao, and Song Lin representing the Embassy of China for first place with their fish-flavored shrimp balls and mapo tofu. Chef Alam Mendez representing the Embassy of Mexico took second place with pork belly “tamalitos” with guajillo salsa and nopal (cactus) salad. Placing third, Chef Trevon Stoute representing the Embassy of Barbados, served a popular plate of crispy pork mille-feuille.
Mixologist AJ Johnson representing The Dominican Republic took home the Best Beverage Award, presented by LIFEWTR, with a cocktail featuring Brugal Extra Viejo, Chinola liqueur, sherry, orange, mint syrup, and cinnamon.
And the night’s attendees also had a voice, choosing People’s Choice via digital voting. Chef Erwin Villarias representing the Embassy of The Philippines took home first place with chicken inasal and majin ube. Chef Muhammad Asghar and Cultural Attache Maliha Shahid from the Embassy of Pakistan took second place with chicken tikka and gulab jamun. And Chef Boris Ghazarian representing the Embassy of Armenia placed third with seasoned lamb and vegetables over rice, pomegranate sorbet, and labneh ice cream with saffron.