Chef Devin E. Johnson, executive chef at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort , walked away with the People’s Choice Award at the Fifth Embassy Chef Challenge held at the Ronald Reagan Building and Inter- national Trade Center in Washington D.C., on March 8th, 2012—the Bahamas Weekly reports.
With the win, Chef Johnson made history by becoming the first Caribbean participant to capture one of the competition’s three major awards . The Bahamas was also the first Caribbean country to participate in the event since its inception.
Chef Johnson’s “Bahamian Seafood Duo ,” a mixture of island conch, mango, crawfish and avocado salad topped with a fresh thyme and curry-scented Johnny cake stick , was an instant hit with those in attendance. An hour prior to the announcement of the winners, the 800 prepared servings were already consumed by guests. The Bahamas ’ booth also served Bush Crack, Sands and High Rock beers. In addition , The Bahamas also contributed to the event’s silent auction in the form of donating a Bahamian sampler basket, a Sands Beer native basket sampler, an Androsia table cloth from Bahama Sol and a Bahamian Escape travel package at the Bimini Bay Resort, Bimini.
Organized by Cultural Tourism DC, the Embassy Chef Challenge celebrates the culinary talents of chefs representing embassies accredited to the United States of America, affording them the opportunity , in a friendly, yet competitive setting, to present a favorite hors d’oeurve to event guests and an illustrious panel of celebrity judges. The judges select their favorite chef, and the invited guests vote for the People’s Choice Award. The results of the preliminary competition, Challenge Denmark, a head-to-head private cook-off held at the kitchens of the Occasions Caters on February 12 , also determine which chef is awarded the Judge’s Choice award, the competition’s top honor.
In addition to Chef Johnson, The Bahamas’ contingent included Assistant Chef Jamal Small and Mrs. DeAnne Gibson, Cultural Tourism Division, Ministry of Tourism. The Diplomatic Staff of the Embassy of The Bahamas, Washington, D.C. provided technical and other support to the delegation during their time in the District, and at the event.
The Bahamas, China, Hungary, Republic of Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Morocco, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka , Republic of Kazakhstan, and Switzerland were among the countries participating in this year’s event. Hungary was the winner of the Judges Award and Norway won the Denmark Challenge Award.
The esteemed judg ng panel included: Tim Carman, food reporter for The Washington Post; Chef Lars Beese, executive chef, Embassy of Denmark and 2011 overall winner; Chef Carla Hall , co-host, The Chew, Top Chef finalist; Warren Brown , Founder and Owner of CakeLove; Chef Xavier Deshayes, executive chef, Ronald Re agan Building and International Trade Center; Chef Sina Molavi, executive chef, Occasions Caterers; Chef Maziar Farivar, executive chef and co-owner, Peacock Café; and Missy Fredrick, columnist for Top Shelf in the Washington Business Journal.