Culinary diplomacy and international travel were at the forefront of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center during Events DC’s 11th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge. Presented by TCMA (A Drew Company), this unique event brings together embassy chefs from all over the world under one roof– a unique opportunity for guests to interact with the diplomatic community and for embassy chefs to showcase their culinary talents to the public.
The moment the doors opened, guests were eager to embark on a world tasting tour, stamping their passports at each participating embassy’s station. Embassy chefs brought their A-game for a chance to win one of the coveted Pineapple Trophies in three separate categories: Judges' Choice, People’s Choice and Best Beverage. This year, the embassies pulled out all the stops preparing delicious bites and beverages including Spicy Sizzled Grilled Lamb Rack with Jollof Rice from Ghana; the original Pain Killer rum cocktail prepared by the British Virgin Islands; Elarji with cornmeal and cheese croquettes, walnut sauce, and an authentic spice glaze from Georgia; traditional Sri Lankan Milk Rice with onion paste and chicken curry and a “Surf and Turf” Pumpkin Soup prepared by Haiti.
Travel-inspired décor elevated this year’s event with passport stamp gobos illuminating the Atrium ceiling and clustered furniture seating representing different countries scattered throughout the event spaces: Japanese-inspired low tables and screens; vibrant poufs from India and colorfully patterned tablecloths from Bolivia were some of the communal seating options.
In the Atrium, guests mingled with one another while listening to live music from Aaron Myers & Co., Quiet Storm Trio, Nathan Pryce and Dreams from Ghana. Guests had the opportunity to challenge their geography and world history knowledge by playing a Jeopardy-esque Global Guessing Game with members of Team TCMA while enjoying Caribbean Meat Pies, Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls and Chimichurri Marinated Fish Tacos prepared by TCMA’s culinary team.
After taste testing all of the spices, sweets and authentic flavors, the panel of food critics and guests casted their votes for what they believe was the best dish and overall favorite experience (each guest was given one token to cast their vote).
This year’s Judges Panel included:
- Executive Chef Xavier Deshayes, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
- Maria Godoy, Senior Editor, NPR Science Desk, and Host, The Salt
- Rose Previte, Owner, Maydan and Compass Rose
- Ashley Rose Young, Food Historian, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
The Atrium and Atrium Hall were buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the announcement of the 2019 award winning chefs. In the meantime, live performances from the Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe captivated the crowd with their whimsical movements and unique style.
Once the votes were tallied, Ed Henry, FOX News Channel anchor and Chief National Correspondent, kicked off the awards ceremony with opening remarks. In addition to the Pineapple Trophies, Macy’s presented a Best Dressed Embassy award. The recipient of this award was Ethiopia thanks to their ornate table display and enthusiasm for their country.
2019 Embassy Chef Challenge Winners:
- Best Beverage (presented by Pepsi):
- Judges' Choice:
- 1ST Place: Barbados
- 2nd Place: Morocco
- 3rd Place: Belgium
- People’s Choice:
- 1st Place: Haiti
- 2nd Place: Sri Lanka
- 3rd Place: Bahamas
A huge congratulations to all of the participating nations: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
“Every year the Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge grows bigger, better and even more delicious! Barbados and Haiti may have gone home with the Golden Pineapples, but with amazing food, drinks, music, dancing, and such celebration of diplomacy everyone can go home feeling like a winner said Events DC president and CEO, Gregory A O’Dell. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s 12th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge!