(Video by Cultural Tourism D.C.)
One year after sweeping the Embassy Chef Challenge with a smoky asparagus soup and roasted duck breast with plum chutney, Danish chef Lars Beese is back. But this time, don’t expect Beese to win accolades for his modern twist on Danish cuisine.
As the head judge at this year’s competition, Beese’s job is to pick apart the flavor and presentation of far-flung global specialities created by some of the world’s best chefs — the men and women who design menus for D.C.’s foreign dignitaries.
“I’m looking forward to tasting food I’ve never had from countries I’ve never been to,” Beese says.
The menu for the event, which will be held Thursday, includes Jamaican escoveitch fish, Iraqi kibbeh, and Georgian chvishtari, a pancake made of cornmeal and cheese.
“It’s fun to be a judge,” Beese says with a laugh.
Judging may be fun, but Beese admits the job isn’t without its own challenges.
Last week, Beese masterminded the first round of the competition, a private, Top Chef-style cook-off featuring a special ingredient — beets — and a basket of Danish components that chefs from China, Morocco, Sri Lanka and other un-Denmark-like nations were expected to incorporate.
Beese says that as he watched this year’s competitors handle ingredients from his homeland — he moved to D.C. in 2008 — it was all he could do to not run into the kitchen with them.
“I wanted to get up and cook, too,” Beese says. He says he was impressed by the chefs’ inventiveness, but refuses to say who his favorites are.
“I won’t mention any names,” he says, “but let’s say the food was very good.”
The Embassy Chefs Challenge, an annual fundraiser for Cultural Tourism D.C., will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building in Northwest. Tickets to the public are $250 each.
Here are the chefs who will be competing Thursday, and the dishes they’re planning to make:
· Chef Devin E. Johnson, Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas — Bahamian Seafood Duo
· Chef Sen Sun, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China — Presenting Shrimp and Cod Roll
· Chef Malkhaz Maisashvili, Embassy of Georgia — Satsivi and Chvishtari
· Chef Viktor Merényi, Embassy of Hungary — slow-cooked beef served with traditional Hungarian accompaniments
· Chef Djamel Amroune, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq — Kibbeh garnished with Tomato, Chili, Olive Compote.
· Chef Sherene N. James, Embassy of Jamaica — Escoveitch fish on Bammie
· Chef Shogo Shimodaira, Embassy of Japan — Shrimp Kimisu
· Chef Yerlan Abdrakhmanov, Embassy of Kazakhstan — Tartlets with Shrimp Cream
· Chef Young A. Byeon Lee, Embassy of the Republic of Korea — Tteock Galbi Gujeolpan, Platter of Nine Delicacies
· Chef Nazha Kasraoui, Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco — Seafood Briwat with Charmoula Sauce
· Chef Sondre Bruvik Ellingstad, Royal Norwegian Embassy — Norwegian Salmon with Cauliflower and Capers
· Chef Channa Perera, Embassy of Sri Lanka — Fish Cutlet
· Chef Vincent Muia, Embassy of Switzerland — Smoked Veal Loin with Carrot Custard, Pickled Carrots, Carrot Chip, Micro Carrot Tops and Balsamic Beet Reduction
Share your food! Do you have a favorite dish from your own homeland? Tell us about it — and share a photo. Get started by clicking the image below.
GALLERY: Submit your favorite dishes by clicking the photo.