Cultural Cuisine Reigns Supreme

Written by Anita
April 11, 2010

DC may be currently abuzz with the whereabouts of Bravo’s Top Chef DC competitors, but we recently caught up with DC’s own top chefs at Cultural Tourism DC's Embassy Chef Challenge (featured on GregsListDC). Now in its second year (click here for last year’s coverage), the competition lets embassy chefs showcase their skills and cuisines for those beyond traditional diplomatic circles. This year’s event, hosted by the House of Sweden, included a preliminary competition, Safeway’s Challenge Sweden at Occasions Caterers, which required chefs to use the same basket of ingredients (salmon, mussels, elderflower liqueur, horseradish, and other items drawn from Swedish cuisine) to prepare an entrée for the judges in two hours. Hungary Chef Viktor Merényi took top honors in that heat with his olive-oil poached salmon fillets with garlic-flavored foam. At the main event, ten competing chefs prepared an assortment of hors d’oeuvres for guests and a panel of distinguished judges (including the likes of former Top Chef contestant and Alchemy Caterers owner Carla Hall, chef extraordinaire Michel Richard of Central/Citronelle, and Blue Ridge chef and sustainable seafood advocate Barton Seaver). We fell for Israeli Embassy chef Einat Admony’s creamy, nutty concoction—Jerusalem artichoke and chestnut soup garnished with spicy whipped cream and nigella seeds—which garnered the evening’s People’s Choice Award. Other standout offerings included Serbian Ambassador His Excellency Vladimir Petrovic’s meaty tripe served Serbian style with a hearty venison ragout and Belgian Embassy chef Jan Van Haute’s hearty pork with tender brussel sprouts, mustard, Belgian endive, and Leffe brown beer. In fact, chef Van Haute’s combined score in the two events won him the evening’s title, Embassy Chef 2010. Hello Cupcake and House of Sweden’s own chef, Martin Johansson, provided sweet endings to the event that could be paired with coffee from local company M.E. Swing Co. In addition to the evening’s stellar cuisine, guests could bid on a variety of silent auction items, including lunch for four prepared by the Washington Post‘s Joe Yonan, dinner for two at Restaurant Nora, or an around-the-world restaurant tour with gift certificates from J. Paul’s Restaurant, Neyla, il Canale, and Bangkok Joe’s. Missed this chance to try some international flavor? Don’t despair, because Cultural Tourism DC is serving up some more great events in the month to come, including Passport DC, which includes the Around the World Embassy Tour on May 1, the Shortcut to Europe tour of the EU embassies on May 8, and the Asian Heritage Festival’s Fiesta Asia Street Fair on May 22.
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