If you can’t stand the heat, you’ll definitely want to stay out of this kitchen!
The 5th annual Embassy Chef Challenge, hosted by Cultural Tourism DC, got started at Occasions Caterers this weekend. The private event — which continues with a finale in March — featured embassy chefs from El Salvador, Jamaica, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, and Trinidad & Tobago, pitted against each other to determine which country has the top chef.
Last year’s winner, Hungary’s Chef Viktor Merényi, was on hand as part of the panel of judges alongside The Washington Post’s Tim Carman, Hello Cupcakes’ Penny Karas, Ronald Regan Building’s Executive Chef Xavier Deshayes, and Occasions’ very own Chef Sina Molavi.
Together they tasted and discussed the merits and flaws of all of the dishes, which had to feature three of the four ingredients chosen by Chef Merényi: rainbow trout, sour cream, Hungarian paprika, and tomatoes.
Though none of the chefs chose to utilize the sour cream, they all brought their “A” game to the table, using the typically Hungarian ingredients in ways that reflected their own cultures. While New Zealand’s dish was “bursting with flavor,” according to Chef Karas, all of the judges agreed that El Salvador’s dish was a great plate of comfort food. The Russian chef, who chose to roll up his pieces of trout, gained praise across the board for his presentation. The Jamaican chef — the only woman in the competition — impressed the judges with her “brilliant” use of tomatoes in a chutney. Norway’s chef had everyone in awe just for deciding to compete as the youngest chef — At 22 years old, his drive definitely blew everyone at the event away.
The main Gala event, which takes place March 14th at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, is set to feature even more embassy chefs alongside Bravo star Chef Carla Hall.