DC residents have a lot of restaurants to choose from, but odds are… they have never tried Chilean cuisine.
Ambassador of Chile to the U.S., Juan Gabriel Valdés, called for this to be rectified last week at Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2nd Annual Chef Challenge! Food and Cocktail Battle, where Chilean ingredients were used to make mouth-watering drinks and dishes.
“Chilean food defines our country,” Valdés said, as food and beverage experts were provided with Chilean ingredients like salmon, mussels, extra virgin olive oil, merquen, pisco, and others to develop winning dishes and drinks.
Mixologists Tena Jahangosha from Del Campo, Michael Saccone from Hank’s Oyster Bar, Jonathan Fain from Bar Pilar, and Francesco Amodeo from Lupo Verde all created cocktails including pisco — a grape-based brandy. The result was four very different takes on the pisco… but made with delicate balance.
Restaurant chefs had a wider choice of items to choose from to make their dishes. For the protein, they could choose between Chilean salmon, mussels, and pork. They could also decide to include merquén, which is a smoked chili blend, ulmo honey, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, prunes, and/or avocado.
Competing chefs included Kaz Okochi from KAZ Sushi Bistro, Victor Albisu from Del Campo, Domenico Apollaro from Lupo Verde, Theary So from Hank’s Oyster Bar, Serge Devesa from Café du Parc, and George Rodrigues from Tico.
Guests had the chance to vote for their favorite chef and mixologist. The people’s choices were Jonathan Fain and Serge Devesa. However, the culinary judges, who included the Chilean ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés, Jessica Sidman from the Washington City Paper, Zena Polin from The Daily Dish, and National Restaurant Association’s Sue Hensley, chose Michael Saccone and Victor Albisu.
Winners at a glance:
Winning dish- Judge’s Choice: Victor Albisu of Del Campo
Winning dish- People’s Choice: Serge Devesa of Café du Parc
Winning cocktail- Judge’s Choice: Theary So of Hank‘s Oyster Bar
Winning cocktail- People’s Choice: Jonathan Fain of Bar Pilar
*Images courtesy ProChile