Imagine classed-up street food and drinks from over 30 different countries all in one place on the same night. That’s the 2017 Embassy Chef Challenge.
Last week we joined over 1,000 attendees for the event held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Hosted by Events DC there were 27 embassy chefs representing their respective countries and showcasing their own unique culinary perspective. Food and drink from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan was available for all to taste.
I’d be lying if I said we were able to try all the food and drink at the Embassy Chef Challenge but we certainly gave it our best shot. We weaved our way through the event and around to see all the various international options before digging in.
Some of the highlights included:
The ceviche peruaña, cousa de pollo and avocado mousse from Peru. We loved the various textures, and the little potato cake that looked just like a Twinkie.
The shrimp served with plantain chips and a dot of fine herbs aioli from Haiti. These were getting rave reviews from many of the other attendees we spoke with, and we couldn’t agree more.
The Binalot, which is Filipino for “lunchbox”, was Pinoy grilled pork with quail egg and cherry tomatoes wrapped in banana leaves from the Philippines. Kacy and my opinion on these differed (I liked it, she was neutral), but we both loved the presentation and the refreshing mint and gin cocktail they were serving as well.
The kibbeh over crusted lamb chop and cilantro mechouia lamb jou from Iraq. This dish took a lot of guts, but it was executed very well and the lamb chop was cooked to perfection – one of Kacy’s top favorites of the night.The “Textures of the Belgian North Sea”- cod sous vide, mussel veloute, Belgian wafel crouton from Belgium was my personal favorite. You may have heard that I have an affinity for waffles.
The grilled beef and chicken served with chapati from Kenya. This was one of our first bites of the night and set an excellent tone for the evening, it was deliciously spicy.
The chat mari, which means for “finger food”, from Nepal. Along with Kenya, Iraq and Haiti we enjoyed trying dishes from countries whose cuisines we had never previously tasted. Nepal’s offerings were light, fun and had a great, spicy kick.
Last but not least, we enjoyed a variety of sweet treats from Ecuador before waving the white flag for the night.
Throughout the evening, attendees could cast a vote through social media for the People’s choice award. Chef Cynthia Verna from Haiti took home this prize with her shrimp ceviche and plantain chips dish.
Along with that award, seven judges voted on the coveted Judges’ Choice, which was awarded to Chef Moha Fedal of Morocco with his Marrakech tangia made with lamb shoulder, preserved lemon, saffron, turmeric, garlic, aged butter and olive oil sealed in a clay jar.
We weren’t able to taste Morocco, as they never had available samples when we stopped by their table. But it definitely looked great!
As lovers of both food and travel, the 2017 Embassy Chef Challenge was an incredible night that left us both stuffed and eager to see more of what our world has to offer. We can’t wait for next year’s event to sample even more cuisine from around the globe.