Philippine Cuisine a Hit at 2017 Embassy Chef Challenge
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Food critics and Washingtonians were introduced to Philippine binalot at Embassy Chef Challenge 2017, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on 24 May 2017.
Chef Red Garcia, owner and executive chef of Kalye DC, represented the Philippine Embassy, last year’s People’s Choice winner, in Washington’s top culinary competition, making over 800 pieces of binalot or Filipino-style pork barbecue with quail egg and cherry tomato wrapped in banana leaf.
“The competition brought me back to my roots. It was an amazing experience to show our culture through food by bringing the classic binalot to the table, to relive our culture and to share it with people from all over the world. My crew and I are so very proud to be able to carry the Philippine flag for the Embassy Chef Challenge,” Chef Red Garcia remarked. “I believe that food has no color. There are no boundaries, there are no walls, so when you break bread with other nations it brings back the camaraderie and bonding,” he added.
Drawing on a distinctly Filipino style and using Philippine ingredients, Chef Red infused the pork meat in a mixture that included Datu Puti soy sauce, vinegar, UFC Hot and Spicy banana ketchup.
Mr. Jojo Valenzuela, a renowned Filipino bartender/mixologist in the Metro DC area, complemented the binalot with his award-winning cocktail, called a “Rizal.” Made primarily from gin and spiced guavamansi soda, the Rizal complemented the sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors of the barbecue.
“The Embassy Chef Challenge is a fun and engaging way for different countries to promote their cuisines, cultures, and products to a truly global audience. What the Philippines offers tonight is the experience of unwrapping the ‘Filipino lunchbox’ – the binalot-and discovering and enjoying the scrumptious pork barbecue inside, then washing it down with a refreshing cocktail,” said Mr. Patrick A. Chuasoto, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Embassy.
US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson noted the long line waiting to test Chef Red’s dish. “I think you could see from the lines here how much people are really attracted to Philippine food. This is just demonstrating tonight some of the best things about the Philippines are its warmth, its food, and its people,” – Hendrickson remarked.
Chef Moha Fedal of Morocco won the Judges’ Choice Award, while Chef Cynthia Verna of Haiti took home the People’s Choice Award at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017.
“Although we did not get the golden pineapple award this year, I am still so happy and proud to represent the Philippines. It was a huge honor and I would love to do it again should the opportunity present itself,” said Chef Red.
The Philippine Embassy’s participation in the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017 was spearheaded by the Philippine Embassy, Philippine Trade and Investment Center, and Office of the Agriculture Attaché in Washington, D.C.; and supported by the US-Philippines Society, Tito Al’s Choice, Seafood City Supermarket, Datu Puti, and UFC Banana Catsup.