|Chef Ángel López|
By Contributor Donna Shor
When emcee Barbara Harrison called on DC Mayor Vincent Gray in the Ronald Reagan building the night after his arrest during a peaceful protest on the Congressional grounds, he called out to the audience “Would you like to come along with me to jail? Then stand with me to demand the right to vote in the District of Columbia.”
The applause was long, even though the listeners’ minds were on neither home rule nor home cooking. Not with small plates of delicacies from twelve of Washington’s embassy chefs before them. It was the 2011 Embassy Chef Challenge staged by CulturalTourismDC.. The chefs, eleven men and one woman in this year’s group, cook daily for their respective ambassadors.
The panel of judges was led by JoeYonan, the Washington Post’s food and travel editor.In a preliminary contest last month, each chef was asked to prepare a dish from a bag of mystery ingredients going mano-a-mano against the other eleven. Chef Lars Reese of the Royal Danish Embassy won.
At the Challenge, where guests voted on the People’s Choice award, the winner was Peru’s Chef Jose Luis Fernandez, who produced an ocean-fresh Ceviche, while the Judges Choice went to Denmark’s Lars Beese for his Duck Breast with Apple and Plum Chutney.